David O’Brien of The Athletic has a slew of positive injury updates that could not have come at a better time following Brian McCann going to the IL earlier today. Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, and Darren O’Day will begin their rehab assignments on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, respectively. While no exact time frame has been given about their expected returns to Atlanta, it seems Swanson and Riley could be back before September, and O’Day sometime during September.
#Braves’ Dansby Swanson will begin a rehab assignment Thursday at Single-A Rome, will DH first and then work his way up with increasing innings in the field for a few games, could be activated after that. Riley will follow similar schedule beginning with DH’ing Friday at Rome.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) August 21, 2019
Here it is: Darren O’Day is scheduled to pitch in a Gulf Coast Rookie League game Saturday and could be added to #Braves’ expanded roster in September. Has been out all season with forearm injury after hamstring surgery in 2018.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) August 21, 2019
The biggest development here is obviously Swanson. Over the past few days, it has been reported that he was ramping up on-field activities in his return from a heel injury. Of these three, he should have the biggest immediate impact. Both his glove and his bat will upgrade Atlanta’s offense and defense significantly, which will be a welcome development before a 14-game stretch versus the Phillies and Nationals starting September 5th.
Austin Riley’s quick recovery is a wonderful turn of events. Initial reports seemed to indicate that Riley could be done for the year with a partial ligament tear, but further opinions brought better news. While Riley’s production had certainly decreased before his injury, it is hard to argue any outfielder not named Ronald Acuna Jr. offers more offensive potential than Riley. Hopefully, Riley will be able to get enough at-bats to find his groove again going into the postseason. The bats of Swanson and Riley being available in early September should inject a big boost of confidence into both the players and the fans that Atlanta will secure the division crown.
Finally, the legend of Darren O’Day’s ghost is a myth no more. He is alive, functioning, and apparently at a better level than he has previously in his time as a Brave. O’Day will begin in the Gulf Coast League and likely will need a few weeks before being available to return to the majors. It will be interesting to see how O’Day emerges as a candidate for a postseason bullpen spot. If he is anything close to his pre-injury form, he could make it very hard to leave him off the roster.
As mentioned with O’Day, since all three players are in the Braves organization before September 1st, they all will be eligible for the postseason. Each of these players has shown the ability to be a difference maker. The addition of these three could significantly raise the overall level of play for the Braves. After enduring a tough month of August due to injuries, that would be a very welcome development to help Atlanta achieve its lofty goals for 2019.