In the midst of a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night, the Atlanta Braves saw one of their offensive studs sustain another injury. Outfielder Justin Upton fouled a 4th-inning pitch from Tom Koehler off of his right knee, and while he finished the at-bat, he was quickly removed for a pinch-runner in the form of his brother, BJ.
Initial reports from the Braves are fairly positive for Justin, as he has been listed as “day to day” by the team. In post game, Upton was quoted as saying, “I’ll come in Wednesday, and if I can run, I’m going to play,” which would indicate that he feels reasonably well, but if we’ve learned anything about Fredi Gonzalez (in the Bobby Cox mold), it’s that Upton is very, very unlikely to play on Wednesday regardless of prognosis.
It’s been a bit of a strange season for Upton in more ways than one. The 26-year-old outfielder has appeared in 132 of the team’s 144 games, but various nagging injuries have plagued him, and as a result, his performance has been a mild disappointment. For the year, Upton is now sporting a .259/.353/.462 slash line with 24 home runs in 570 plate appearances, and while that is very good for a “normal” player, he’s been extremely streaky throughout. In addition, he has been the worst defender on the team according to various defensive metrics (-1.7 defensive WAR, tied with Dan Uggla for team worst), and because he’s been a solid defender for his entire career, this is a concern.
At any rate, it appears (for now) that Upton will be fine moving forward, and that is huge for the Braves. The team can’t afford another injury blow in the wake of Jason Heyward, Tim Hudson, and Brandon Beachy, and Upton’s power presence from the right side will be crucial if the Braves can make a run toward the World Series.