The Atlanta Braves march into Great American Ballpark this week representing 3rd place in the NL East with a record of 11-10. They’re a half game back in a division with the likes of Jacob Degrom, Bryce Harper, and Max Scherzer just to name a few. Much like the Reds, they’ve had some early tests against NL outperformers, but if you look back to the opening series against the Phillies or more recently the Mets, you will see they haven’t exactly gotten one up on the big boys in their division.
The Braves lineup shows few signs of weakness, and is going to prove tough for the Red’s slate of Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, and Anthony Desclafani. They have 7 everyday hitters smacking around .270, and lead the MLB in OBP. They haven’t been a team that’s going to knock the cover off the ball and tag you for a bunch of dingers this season, but they have consistently placed runners on the base-path.
Keep your eyes on: Nick Markakis (.338/.407/.500 16 RBI’s 25 Hits), Freddie Freeman (.316/.443/.481 16 RBI’s), Ronald Acuna Jr. (.307/.429/.600 6HR’s)
Atlanta’s pitching staff is a little banged up, but they still have some serious depth in their rotation. Fortunately, the Reds will avoid a showdown with MLB ERA leader Max Fried (1.38 ERA), but will still will face a solid bundle of righties in, heat seeking Kevin Gausman, the promising young Mike Soroka, and veteran Julio Teheran. Relievers haven’t been a positive talking point for the Braves this season, but the bullpen pitched well enough against the Indians over the weekend with 19 K’s and 4 ER.
Keep your eyes on: Kevin Gausman (2.75 ERA 0.76 WHIP 22K’s), rung up 10 in his last performance against the Diamondback. Mike Soroka (1.80 ERA 1.20 WHIP 6 K’s), he’s unproven, but the talent is there.
If the Reds offense finally decides to wake up and show signs of consistency, this can be a fun series. Our starting pitchers are going to need all the run support they can get. It’s a shame Castillo wont have the chance to showcase his greatness against the heavy hitters mentioned above, but if Gray, Roark, and Disco put in manageable performances and the offense holds up their end of the bargain, I’d look for us to take 2 of 3 from the Bravos.