Max Fried and Ian Anderson both may not have been at their best, but their efforts were good enough to keep Boston from doing any significant damage with the chances that they had while both were on the mound in the first two games. With that being said, we’re now entering the phase of Atlanta’s rotation where you’re simply praying that the starter can avoid a big inning and at least give the bullpen a few innings before getting them into the game.
Tonight’s starter for the Braves is a prime example of this particular phenomenon for their rotation. In his last outing, Robbie Erlin basically cruised through Philadelphia’s lineup on his first trip through their order. Then the leadoff hitter returned to the plate for his second at-bat and promptly launched a dinger. Erlin ended up giving up four runs through four innings in his last start, and it was his second trip through the lineup that doomed him. The hope for Erlin in tonight’s start is that he can at least get through the lineup twice without getting touched up for any significant amount of runs.
Fortunately, he’s going to be pitching against an offense that is mediocre at best and poor at worst. Hopefully, Robbie Erlin will catch Boston on one of their “poor” nights and he won’t catch them on a night where their bats have something like nine runs in them — which is what they pulled off back on August 30 against Washington. Still, if there was ever a time for Robbie Erlin to hopefully have a comfortable start where he builds up both his confidence and the foundation for both the offense and the bullpen to build upon, tonight’s game would be such a time.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox are throwing Mike Kickham to the wolves tonight. Kickham made his MLB debut in 2013 with the San Francisco Giants . He got lit up in his first three starts, got relegated to relief duty for the remainder of that season and didn’t see the majors again until he got a September call-up near the end of the following season. He made two relief appearances and in his final stint on September 13, 2014, he ended up with four earned runs allowed over 1.2 innings against a Dodgers team that was ravenous for runs on that night . That was the last time that Kickham pitched in the majors and six years to the day after making his first return to the big leagues , he’s finally back.
UPDATE — The Red Sox have changed their mind. Robinson Leyer — with all of one (1) inning of Major League Baseball under his belt — will be the first pitcher on the mound for Boston tonight. Apparently, Leyer will be the opener and Kickham will pitch after that.
Update: Red Sox are starting Robinson Leyer tonight instead of Mike Kickham.— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) September 2, 2020
Make no mistake about it: This is a tanking move on the part of the Red Sox. Their Twitter account already made it clear what their goal was for this season and now they’re keeping the good times rolling towards the bottom with what they expect out of their pitching staff tonight. Overall, tonight’s pitching matchup is very strange — one team ran out of options for their rotation and is just throwing whoever they can out there in an effort to just make it to the end of the season to see what happens from there, and the other team is the Boston Red Sox. Jokes aside, it honestly is strange that two teams who are currently going in opposite directions are currently in similar positions when it comes to the quality of their pitching once you look at who’s currently available to pitch.
The goal tonight for the Braves should be a very simple one: The offense needs to take care of business against Mike Kickham (none of this nonsense where he just suddenly pitches the game of his life and throws six strong innings against an offense that’s currently on a roll) and the rest of Boston’s pitching staff and give Robbie Erlin as much breathing room as possible to give the Braves a few innings on the mound. If that happens, then we’re going to see the brooms at the end of the night. Hopefully it comes to pass!
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, September 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Fenway Park, Boston, MA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network