As the Atlanta Braves battle to stay atop the NL East approaching the halfway point of the season, reinforcements are on the way with star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and top prospect Ian Anderson set to join the team on Tuesday.
Acuña Jr., who recently landed on the 10-day injured list, was activated off the IL and will return to Atlanta’s lineup as the team looks for a spark. Likewise, with a glaring need in the rotation, the club is bringing Anderson up to make his MLB debut.
Braves’ star Ronald Acuña Jr. activated off injured list
Acuña has been out of Atlanta’s lineup since Aug. 12 when discomfort in his wrist caused him to be a late scratch. When the pain didn’t go away, the Braves placed him on the injured list.
Fortunately, the 22-year-old outfielder was able to recover relatively quickly. After taking swings in batting practice on Sunday and not experiencing any soreness on Monday, the Braves cleared their star to return.
It’s fantastic news for a club that holds just a 1.5-game lead over the Miami Marlins in the NL East. The Braves have gone 5-5 in their past 10 games, struggling to find consistency from a lineup without Acuña, Nick Markakis and Ozzie Albies.
Acuña, a member of the 30-30 club and an All-Star selection in 2019, will return to the heart of Atlanta’s batting order. Sitting on a .887 OPS this season, the right-handed hitter will hope to heat up now that his wrist is healed.
Atlanta Braves call-up top prospect Ian Anderson
While fans will be elated to have Acuña back in the lineup, there might be even more excitement for Anderson’s debut. One of the top pitching prospects in baseball will finally get his chance to help a rotation that needs stability.
Atlanta’s pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries and poor performances during the 2020 season. The club lost ace Mike Soroka to a torn Achilles at the start of the month, while starters Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb were sent down after disastrous starts. Meanwhile, Cole Hamels is without a timetable to return from a triceps injury.
Fortunately, Anderson could fill the void in this rotation. The 22-year-old dominated at the Double-A level this past season, recording a 2.68 ERA with a 147-47 K-BB ratio in 111 innings.
The righty is ranked the No. 242 overall prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, drawing rave reviews for his fastball, changeup and curveball. He will make his MLB debut against the New York Yankees, without stars Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton.
Even if Anderson sticks in the rotation, the Braves will need to find more pitching at the MLB trade deadline. Atlanta’s starting pitchers entered Tuesday ranked 25th in ERA (5.37) and the organization is expected to be aggressive on the trade market.