June 21, 2024

The previous season’s injuries befell the Atlanta Braves with considerable misfortune.

The group of Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, and Huascar Ynoa from 2022 saw their 453.2 innings cut down to just 108.2, with Fried accounting for the majority of that reduction. This was a particularly harsh blow to their rotation.

However, things ought to be improving in 2024 as Atlanta gets ready to welcome back Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa following Tommy John surgery.

Ynoa, who had surgery in September 2022, is the first pitcher scheduled to return to activity. He is now in camp and in good health. Pitchers often take 12 to 18 months to return to action.

He seems to be the underdog when it comes to starting pitching, as the only players mentioned while discussing the #5 place in the rotation are Hurston Waldrep, AJ Smith-Shawver, and free agency signing Reynaldo López.

However, Ynoa is in good health and is motivated to improve both as a player and a person from when Atlanta supporters last saw him.

The final memory most fans have of Ynoa is probably one he’d prefer to forget: on a May Sunday in Milwaukee, following a bad outing in which he gave up five runs on nine hits in just 4.1 innings, he punched a bullpen bench out of rage.
Pitching to an ERA above five and going 0–4 in ten starts, Ynoa, who was dominating a 4–1 record and 2.23 ERA at the time, lost three full months due to the injury and didn’t appear quite the same towards the end of the 2021 season. Atlanta went on to win the World Series, and Ynoa was left off the playoff roster.

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After just two starts in 2022, Ynoa was optioned to AAA Gwinnett, where he struggled the entire season (5.68 ERA) before ultimately undergoing Tommy John surgery following the season.

However, as he revealed to Justin Toscano of the AJC, he has since dedicated time to improving both his physical and emotional well-being: “I believe that I was taking certain things too personally, even off the field, like a remark or something,” Ynoa stated. “And just figuring out how to handle that.”

However, it is said that Ynoa is more resilient, self-assured, and capable of handling situations calmly. After a recent bullpen, Braves manager Brian Snitker said that he has apparently looked good in the spring.

Following Ynoa’s bullpen throw last week, Snitker told reporters, “I know he looks great.”

What matters to monitor in Grapefruit League action is whether or if his stuff performs better. Ynoa was primarily a two-pitch player in 2022, using his 97 mph fastball and 85 mph slider in equal measure with only a 6% usage of a changeup.

Although Spencer Strider typically uses that same mix of pitches, his individual pitches rank among the greatest in baseball in terms of both production and “stuff.”
Ynoa mentioned this at his media appearance, which was conducted in part in English. He acknowledged that he was trying to improve his hs changeup and bring his slider back to how it was before surgery.

Despite his expectation that by the end of spring, he would be stretched out and prepared for starts. With one minor league option year left, Ynoa could start the season in the minors, on the injured list or in the rehab system, or in a bullpen position for Atlanta.

Ian Anderson should return by midseason.
With his operation not performed until April of the previous season, Anderson had a little more time to get back into the game, aiming for “midseason” return.

After surgery, the right-hander, who was memorably lifted after 76 pitches on a rainy and chilly Atlanta night, five innings into a World Series no-hitter, worked hard on the fundamentals.
“I worked hard on my mechanics during the initial period following the surgery when I was unable to throw. “Everything feels good now that I’m throwing again,” Anderson said to the reporters during a team press conference at the North Port, Florida, facility.

He clarified that in addition, he somewhat relaxed his arm slot after delivering his wildly extravagant speech.

It will be intriguing to watch Anderson’s development during his minor league rehab stints as well. Unlike Ynoa, Anderson has three pitches that he uses at least 10% of the time, but he also works with less pure velocity and a less optimal pitch mix.

Pitching mostly fastballs and changeups, Anderson uses his 94 mph fastball nearly half the time (48%) and his 88 mph changeup (33%), along with a low-80s curveball, to support it.

With Anderson averaging roughly 50% groundballs and hard hit rates that are in line with the league average, the goal is more groundouts and weak contact than strikeouts.

However, the curveball alone doesn’t rate highly successful; according to Baseball Savant, it gave up a total of -5 run value in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

However, if Anderson is healthy and ready to go come summertime, it might have the same impact as Atlanta bringing in a starting pitcher at the trade deadline—someone who knows how to handle pressure and is eager to get back on the mound and shut down hitters.

Regarding the endeavor to come back, Anderson remarked, “It’s definitely been a long process,” but he has found benefits from it.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and I feel like I’ve been able to hone what I’m doing more.”

Ian Anderson out with strained oblique muscle, per report - Battery Power

 

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