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Acuña and Heredia return, Riley sticks at cleanup

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Abraham Almonte drops to fifth

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game Two Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Well, while the bad news is “the 2021 Atlanta Braves season,” the good news is that Ronald Acuña Jr. is back in the lineup, as is Guillermo Heredia.

This is pretty much the “normal” lineup the Braves have been rolling with, though Austin Riley appears to have usurped the cleanup spot from Abraham Almonte once again. As a result, this is once again a novel lineup for the Braves, even though they’ve used this same corps of players in the starting eight for eight games already, making it the most common defensive arrangement they’ve deployed all season.

The Reds are also deploying some changes as they prepare to face southpaw Drew Smyly:

Tyler Stephenson steps into the catcher spot and hits cleanup, while Aristides Aquino takes over center field. Both Stephenson and Aquino have strong batting lines overall this season (the latter in a tiny sample), and have absolutely obliterated lefties this year, so that’ll be a fun thing for the Braves to try and overcome. This is only Aquino’s fourth start of the year; the Reds used this lineup once before in a 10-2 win over the Brewers, so hopefully they don’t do that to the Braves tonight.

The Braves have, of course, never faced Vladimir Gutierrez before. These Reds also have limited exposure to Drew Smyly, but not none:

And now, the Statcast graphic.