Last night’s victory felt like an adventure. It was like a full length movie with surprises, plot twists and plenty of action. Thankfully, it ended in a victory for the Braves. Furthermore, it added validity to the fact that things will always be exciting with this group.
- The Josh Donaldson-Joe Musgrove theatrics from last night should not come as a complete surprise. Josh Donaldson is an emotional player, and he knows he has not been playing up to his potential as of late. He has not been shy to show his displeasure for being thrown at in the past, and he made it known again. It will be interesting to see how last night’s events will impact tonight with Chris Archer and Mike Foltynewicz on the bump.
- The Braves offense should simply be called Hydra. The old slogan “cut off one head, two shall rise” fits this offense quite well. With Austin Riley coming back down to earth (.542 OPS in June), both Ronald Acuna Jr. (.965 OPS in June) and Ozzie Albies (1.021 OPS in June) have combined to join Captain Consistency Freddie Freeman in leading the Braves offense. While it would be wonderful for everyone to be hitting well at the same time, this is a byproduct of having a deep lineup. Even when some struggle, others pick up the slack to help the Braves’ offense remain one of the best in the majors.
- Brian Snitker’s handling of Kevin Gausman seems to indicate that Gausman likely will be seeing a role change in the near future. With Dallas Keuchel dominating in his first minors appearance, there could be a lot of shifting amongst the Braves pitching options. With innings limitations and routines having to be considered, there are many different scenarios that could play out over the next month with the starters and relievers.
Of course, no matter how you look at the points above, the biggest takeaway is that the Braves are now tied with the Phillies at the top of the NL East. However, while Atlanta is 19-9 over their past 28 games, they must keep earning wins when it is expected. And tonight, the Braves can expect the Pirates will be fully engaged to ensure that does not happen.
Atlanta will send Mike Foltynewicz (5.89 ERA, 6.62. FIP, 4.91 xFIP) to the mound for his second straight start against the Pirates. The 2019 season has continued to be frustrating for Folty. After two stellar starts against Milwaukee and St. Louis, Foltynewicz was rocked by Detroit. His last time out against the Pirates was a classic pre 2018 Folty Start. Over six innings, he was good to dominant for five of them. But the ONE BAD INNING occurred in the second inning, and the Braves offense could not overcome it.
Overall, many factors are keeping Folty from being the quality talent he is. However, the one clear issue is his propensity to give up homeruns, which has now reached historic levels. Folty has allowed 15 homeruns in less than 45 innings pitched this season. He is one of only four starters who has accomplished that feat over the past 100 years. The crazy thing is, in a season where home runs are flying at record rates, Drew Smyly, Dan Straily, and Folty all have produced that statline this season. While the home runs should regress, the key to Folty’s success is that he must get back to limiting hard contact. An encouraging sign is that he has looked like the 2018 version of himself multiple times in three of his last four starts.
Chris Archer ( 5.20 ERA, 5.45 FIP, 4.91 xFIP) will man the bump for the Pirates. With the All-Star Break approaching, it has to be painful for Pirates fans to see Austin Meadows receive All- Star starter buzz in the American League. Simply put, the Chris Archer trade with the Rays looks like an absolute disaster for the Pirates. However, one would not know that based off Archer’s success against the Braves. In three career starts, Archer has a 1.69 ERA and the Braves have produced a meager .616 OPS against him. While Atlanta’s offense is producing right now, they must figure how to put some runs on the board if this turns into another slugfest.
The story of this game will likely come down to who can silence the top of the order in the opposing lineup. If Folty can build off how he ended his last start, it would help the Braves continue their winning ways with a chance to finish the night alone atop the NL East.
WPA-Mike Foltynewicz- The Braves could use another added layer of certainty to their rotation, and Folty seems primed to get it back on track soon.
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Atlanta Braves
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
7:20 pm EDT
SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, MLB.tv
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network
XM Radio: XM 187 (Streaming 841)