The Braves have owned the Marlins in 2019, and nothing has changed in this series. Atlanta is now 14-4 against Miami this season, and has a chance to sweep the disgruntled bottom-dwellers as Mike Soroka takes the mound tonight.
Soroka enters play with a 10-2 record, a 2.41 ERA, a 191 ERA+, and 4.8 bWAR this season. He ranks near the top of the National League in every major pitching category outside of strikeouts, though he supplements those shortcomings with a 54% ground ball rate. Soroka has been especially dominant versus Miami, against whom he owns a 2-0 record with one earned run allowed across 22 innings in three starts.
Soroka has been among the best pitchers in the National League throughout the season, and has been especially impressive when pitted against other rookies around the league. The NL Rookie of the Year is likely to be awarded to Pete Alonso, but Soroka has kept himself firmly in the race with his steady production. The 22-year-old has allowed more than three runs just three times this season, which is outstanding given the proclivity of young starters to blow up when things seemingly go awry.
The Marlins will counter with Sandy Alcantara, whom the Braves have faced twice in 2019. The right-hander owns a 3.86 ERA in 112⁄3 innings pitched with six strikeouts. Alcantara is a hard-thrower, with a fastball that averages close to 96 MPH and a sinker that is only a tick slower. Those hard fastballs are complemented by a changeup, slider, and curveball, of which the curveball has been most effective with just a .233 xwOBA. Hard-hit percentage and average exit velocity suggest that Alcantara has been better than his 4.35 ERA might indicate, but with only 101 strikeouts in 1422⁄3 innings, the right-hander is susceptible to contact.
The Braves have seen very little of Alcantara to this point but Ozzie Albies has found success in limited opportunities, going 3-for-7 with a double, while Freedie Freeman is 2-for-5 with a double. Those two represent the only Braves with any notable statistics against Alcantara, so tonight should be interesting as Atlanta looks to solve the right-hander.
The Braves currently sit atop the NL East with a six-game lead, and have played well despite a rash of injuries over the past month. Despite the series victory, Atlanta needs to take advantage of favorable matchups like the one against Miami as they look to trim the magic number for the Nationals, which currently stands at 30 with a little over five weeks of regular season play remaining.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, August 22, 2019, 7:20 PM EST
Location: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network