Many of us are probably on cloud nine after last night’s historic performance by the Braves offense against the Miami Marlins in a 29-9 preview of the NFL season’ which kicks off tonight. Many franchise records were set and some exclusive MLB records were matched or surpassed by Atlanta. To put it into perspective, Atlanta produced one of the best single game offensive performances in baseball history.
The crazy thing is that, by this point, this should come as no suprise. Over the past ten days, the Atlanta offense has had a player hit three home runs in the same day FOUR different times. This offense has certainly had a stretch of production that has rarely been seen in franchise history or in the history of the game of baseball in general.
For me, the most encouraging part of all this is that the main catalysts for this success have been from sources other than those you would expect. Marcell Ozuna was the most recent recepitent of NL Player of the Week award, Adam Duvall has been otherworldly, and Austin Riley continues to show significant improvment at the plate. The Braves, in general, have simply been an offense right out of MLB THE SHOW, if someone was playing on rookie mode against Tommy Milone:
These are the numbers of the Braves’ hitters in September, and yes, if your draw dropped, mine is still on the floor. Atlanta has simply dominated opposing pitching, and has done so in consistent and extravagant fashion. Yet, despite their insane production, the Braves are 6-4 over their past ten games, and overall remain close to .500 over their past 25. The reason being is while the offense has been hotter than ever, the starting pitching for the Braves continues to be among the worst in the majors.
For instance, as wonderful as the Braves offense has been, they have scored more than five runs six times in September. The Braves pitching staff has allowed more than five runs five times. Especially with Max Fried now on the IL, Atlanta is simply in a mode where they will have to “out offense” their way to the postseason, and likely do the same when they get there as well. They certainly have the firepower to do it, with a bullpen that can hold leads. However, as we all know, especially in the playoffs, that strategy is a very risky philosophy as the competition gets tougher.
We know Atlanta’s offense and bullpen can put together consecutive games of production, but also know the starting staff is just as likely to put together consecutive disappointing performances. As we saw in the last series against the Nationals, if our offense is limited, wins become hard to achieve.
The Braves will send Robbie Erlin and his 6.84 ERA to the mound tonight against the Nationals. On a positive note, Erlin has completed four innings in each start he has made with the Braves (the benchmark of starting pitching success now in Atlanta.) Furthermore the Braves are 3-1 in those four games he has started. Simply put, Erlin has not been good during his time in Atlanta. In fact, he has been quite dreadful. But he also has made his way through opposing lineups twice most times, and has kept Atlanta in the game so the offense could eventually get the win.
At this point, that is considered a success story for the Braves’ starters.
Another bit of positive news is that the Nationals will counter with a pitcher who has actually been worse this season than Erlin in the form of Austin Voth. The Braves faced Voth just last Friday, in Ronald Acuna Jr.’s return to action. The Braves got to Voth early and often, and were able to win decisively 7-1. With how the Braves offense has been playing, seeing a pitcher they already had success against again so soon could be a needed development to get the win.
Though the Braves will likely have the offensive advantage against the Nationals, Washington will have one player they unexpectedly did not have in Atlanta: Juan Soto. Soto returns to the lineup after sitting out a few games due to elbow soreness. With Atlanta’s infinite strugges against Trea Turner, they must figure out how to limit at least one of the Nationals’ two best hitters. If they can do that tonight, it seems Atlanta has to feel good about their chances to earn a victory. With the Marlins and Phillies beginning a critical seven games in four days series (WELCOME TO 2020!), every Atlanta victory puts more pressure on each of those squads to continue playing exceptional baseball to keep pace with the Braves.