After picking up a win on Memorial Day against their divisional rivals from Washington, the Braves are now trying to pick up a second straight win in order to return to the .500 mark for the first time since last week.
Fortunately for the Braves, they have to be feeling pretty confident in their chances of getting back to .500 since their starting pitcher this afternoon will be Max Fried. Ever since returning from the IL due to hamstring issues, Fried has been a consistent presence on the mound for Atlanta. According to FanGraphs’ Game Score Version 2.0 metric, Fried has finished with a 65 GSv2 in each of his past three starts and his first start back from the IL saw him pick up a 55 GSv2. He’s pitched at least six innings in his past three starts and went seven his last time out, and he’s given up one run in each of the last four starts that he’s made. Simply put, Max Fried is settling into a groove at the moment and he’s starting to resemble the pitcher that had both the Braves and their fans excited and waiting for each of his starts during 2020.
That run of four starts includes his start back on May 5 against the Nationals, which is when Fried tossed five innings and struck out six while only giving up — you guessed it — just one run. Ever since that start, it’s been a steady and consistent run of improvement for Fried this season and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him continue that run and build on what he started last month against Washington.
Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg has had an up-and-down season whenever he’s been able to stay on the mound. He’s only made four starts so far this year and they’ve been a bit inconsistent. Strasburg pitched 5.1 innings back on May 21 against the Orioles and kept them off the scoreboard, and then followed that up six days later by throwing another five innings but giving up three runs in that outing against the Reds. Before his injury, we had an extreme example where Strasburg dominated the Braves over six innings on April 7, only to go out and get shelled for eight runs (seven of them earned) over four innings against the Cardinals.
The good news is that Strasburg can be hit hard and it really wouldn’t be surprising if the Braves were able to pull it off again against the 32-year-old right-hander. However, if you noticed the pattern then that means that Strasburg could be in line for a good start this evening and something that could look similar to what happened between Strasburg and the Braves back in April. I know it’s a bit of a cop out and very nebulous to say that anything could happen during this matchup tonight, but it’s true — anything could happen and either complete dominance from Strasburg or the Braves running him from the game early on wouldn’t really be a stunner for me.
I will tempt fate here and say that the Braves can at least take solace in the fact that Trea Turner hasn’t exactly been tearing it up lately. He’s only been hitting .271/.323/.356 over his past 65 plate appearances, which is good for only 88 wRC+ over that span. Additionally, he struck out four times in yesterday’s game and finished the day 0-for-5 overall. Turner has become notorious here in Braves Country for the way that he feasts upon Braves pitching, but he’s gone 0-for in his last two games against the Braves. I’ve definitely enjoyed seeing him hit what qualifies as a rough patch for him against Atlanta, and hopefully it continues at least for another two nights here.
It’s always fun seeing Max Fried make a start, since you have to figure that he’s going to do a good enough job to keep the Braves in the game. There’s never really a dull moment with Stephen Strasburg taking the mound, since you never know which version of the pitcher will show up when he takes on the Braves. Then there’s the Trea Turner factor, and I think we’re all on pins-and-needles hoping that this isn’t the night that he remembers that he hates the Braves. All of those factos have made it so that this should be another exciting contest. Hopefully we’ll see the Braves make their return to the .500 mark.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, June 1, 7:08 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Bally Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93. 7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network