Yes, that’s right — no Freddie Freeman for the Braves. Freeman will grab a bench spot for the second time this season, and first since May 12. Austin Riley will start in his place at first base. Josh Donaldson slides up to the third spot, and Adam Duvall will bat cleanup accordingly. Suffice to say, the Braves have never trotted out anything remotely like this lineup or defensive arrangement prior to today. Riley played first base in a few games at Triple-A Gwinnett earlier this year, his only official appearances at the position.
The Reds are also using a new-look lineup against Julio Teheran, with Derek Dietrich starting at the keystone and Josh VanMeter patrolling left field. They’ve used this arrangement once before in May, albeit with a different batting order.
Among the Braves, Donaldson, Brian McCann, and Matt Joyce have all seen Sonny Gray a fair bit, with McCann holding the roster’s only homer against the right-hander. Charlie Culberson and Riley are the only current Braves batters to have never faced Gray before.
A handful of Reds have seen Teheran a lot through the years: Tucker Barnhart, Derek Dietrich, Eugenio Suarez, and Joey Votto. Dietrich in particular is somewhat of a Teheran nemesis, having taken him deep twice in 25 at-bats across their respective careers. Among Reds in the lineup, neither Nick Senzel nor VanMeter have yet faced Teheran; any appearances by Aristides Aquino and Phillip Ervin against Teheran would also be their first
With a seven-game division lead, a quick turnaround Sunday matinee is exactly when you would expect the Braves to rest their stalwarts, and that appears to be what’s happening here. Let’s see if they can pull out a win anyway — and of course, just because Freddie Freeman is on the bench doesn’t mean he can’t have a big impact in this game anyway, as the Braves have the pseudo-luxury of deploying his bat in a key situation should one arise late in the game.