While I certainly do not want to sound negative, I have some rather unfortunate news:
It is going to be hard to top last night’s game if you are a Braves fan.
The Braves won the game and ended a four game losing streak. Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a home run. The chemistry between William Contreras and Huascar Ynoa was on full display as Ynoa had another fantastic start. However, the highlight of the night was a grand slam off the bat of Ynoa, his second home run of the year.
Fortunately, the good news will continue today for the Braves and their fans even if last night’s victory will likely be one of the best of the year. Atlanta’s ace, Max Fried, will return to action after missing some time with an injured hamstring. Though Fried did not start off the season in the best fashion, the Braves starting staff is certainly at its best with him leading the charge.
On the season, over 11 innings, Fried has allowed 23 hits and 15 runs (14 earned) along with five walks and 14 strikeouts. In his second start of the season against these same Nationals, Fried only completed two innings due to giving up five early runs on eight hits. It is fair to expect Fried to be a bit rusty as he tries to find his groove tonight. The hope for Fried and the Braves is that the time off healing his hamstring hopefully allowed for him to right the ship with his pitching mechanics and approach
Of course, Atlanta also hopes the offense will get back to the success it was showing this time last week. Both Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna have certainly struggled as of late. Dansby Swanson started the season off in horrible fashion as well, but over his past three games is 5-14 with two runs. Hopefully, Swanson can start making strides to return to the form he showed last year. It is essential Freeman, Ozuna, and Swanson all regain their abilities to hit well with the recent injury to Travis d’Arnaud and the youth that will now consistently be in the lineup.
Another aspect of tonight’s game that may help the offense continue to improve is Erick Fedde being on the mound for the Nationals. The Braves have had tremendous success against Fedde, including earlier this season in the same game Fried struggled against the Nationals. It was Fedde’s first start of the season, and he allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits and three walks over 1 2⁄3 innings. However, while the fact remains the Braves have enjoyed success against Fedde, he also has significantly improved since he last faced Atlanta. In three of his four starts since, Fedde has allowed only one run. He also has 25 strikeouts over 20 2⁄3 innings since his start against the Braves, showing better swing and miss talent than he did before this season. The Braves must be ready to take advantage of their opportunities when they are created.
Overall, the two things to hope for tonight are a good outing from Fried and a win for the Braves. It would be nice to have Freeman, Ozuna, and others contribute to the victory as well. A major factor in the Braves three consecutive NL East titles is taking care of business against NL East opponents. After a 5-8 divisional record in April, a series win against an NL East opponent to start May would be a nice boost of confidence.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, May 5th, 7:05 PM EST
Location: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
TV: Bally Sports South, MLB Network (out-of-market only)
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, @NNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network