Shoulder ailment sidelines Braves’ pitcher Lee

Dinuba native made four appearances after a spending a three month stint on the injured list, then is placed on 60-day injured list as of Sept. 17

Atlanta, GA, USA: June 12,2021-An entrance to Truist Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The stadium is a ballpark and the home field of Major League Baseball team of Atlanta Braves. ( Rajesh on Adobe Stock)
Atlanta, GA, USA: June 12,2021-An entrance to Truist Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The stadium is a ballpark and the home field of Major League Baseball team of Atlanta Braves. ( Rajesh on Adobe Stock)
Jon Earnest
Published September 22, 2023  • 
11:00 am

ATLANTA – Recurring inflammation to his pitching shoulder has ended the season for Atlanta Braves lefthander and Dinuba native Dylan Lee.

The 29-year old returned to the team at the start of September, but after four appearances with the team he again experienced shoulder discomfort and was placed on the injured list on Sept. 12. Five days later, he was transferred to the 60-day injured list, ending his season and chance to contribute to the Braves’ bid for a second World Series championship in three seasons.

Lee’s final appearance of the season was Sept. 11 at Philadelphia, when he went just one-third inning allowing a hit, a walk and two earned runs. For the season, he appeared in 24 games with one start, working 23⅓ innings with 24 strikeouts, a 4.18 earned runs average and 1.35 walks/hits per inning pitched.

After a strong prep career for Dinuba High and college stops at College of the Sequoias and Fresno State, Lee was drafted in the 10th round by the Miami Marlins in 2016. After pitching four seasons in the minor leagues with the organization and then not pitching in 2020 with the cancellation of the minors season because of COVID-19, he was released and then signed with the Braves in March 2021.

The season was a milestone for Lee, who went 5-1 with the Triple A Gwinnett Stripers and was called up to the Braves in September. He made his big league debut on Oct. 1, recording his first MLB strikeout against the New York Mets and earning a spot on the team’s postseason roster.

After not pitching in a divisional series win over the Milwaukee Brewers, Lee initially was left off the roster for the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But an injury to Huascar Ynoa during that series put Lee back on the roster, and he remained with the team for the World Series against the Houston Astros.

Lee then lived out a dream scenario, when he was announced as the Game 4 starter against Zack Greinke and became the first player in MLB history to make his major league debut in the World Series. He faced four batters, giving up two walks and a hit allowing one run and getting one out before being relieved. However, the Braves managed to pull out the game by a 3-2 score and went on to win their first World Series title since 1995.

Lee then spent most of the 2022 season with Atlanta, after being called up early in the season and remaining with the big club from May on. He posted a 5-1 record and a 2.13 ERA. He started 2023 with the Braves working out of the bullpen before experiencing his first shoulder woes in May.

It has not been announced by the team what the rehabilitation plans are for Lee. The former Emperors star has mained ties with his home community, holding an annual baseball camp the past two years at the high school.

Sanger native has potential to step in

While Lee is finished for the 2023 season, the possibility remains that another local pitcher with Central Valley ties could be pitching in the postseason. Luis Ortiz, former Sanger High standout and a 2014 first round pick (30th overall) in the 2014 amateur draft, remains on the Philadelphia Phillies roster as the team currently holds the top wild card spot entering the final two weeks of the season.

The 28-year-old righthander has appeared in 13 games (all in relief) for the Phillies this season, posting a 3.50 ERA while working 18 innings with no decisions and 14 strikeouts and one save in a win at Arizona on June 13. He last pitched on Aug. 20, working a scoreless inning and finishing the game in a loss at Washington.

Ortiz was selected off waivers by the Phillies last November after pitching the 2022 season with the San Francisco Giants, where he appeared in six games and posted a 1.04 ERA. Despite pitching parts of four seasons (2018 and 2019 with Baltimore), Ortiz still is technically designated as a rookie.

The graduate of Hallmark Charter School in Sanger was drafted by the Texas Rangers, but never made a big league appearance with the organization. His career MLB numbers are an 0-2 record (both decisions with the Orioles), a 4.45 ERA and 1.670 WHIP with 23 strikeouts and 16 walks.

Jon Earnest