Though the Braves’ season as a a whole certainly has been a struggle, they actually have done a decent job when it comes to games on Sunday. They are 6-2 over their past eight Sunday games, a bit of a positive to build off of as they have started the past several weeks. In fact, its been quite busy over the past seven days, as between yesterday and the previous Sunday, the Braves played 10 total games.
Atlanta was 5-5 in those contests, which is not bad when you consider they scored three or less run in each of the first nine games over that stretch before winning 4-0 yesterday. One thing that certainly helped is that the Braves pitching staff earned four shutouts over those ten games, including a great performance from both Kyle Muller and the bullpen yesterday. In fact, the Braves have produced more shutouts (five) since June 17th than they had over the entire season (three) before June 17th.
At some point, the Braves are going to have to find some balance, especially as their season passes the halfway point this week. Yes, the Braves are three games under .500 and five games back in the NL East, But after today’s off day, they have three games against the Mets and three games against the Marlins. If the Braves can find a way to produce enough offense to support their pitching, they could easily make up some needed ground this week. Now is the time to act, as the Braves have a more than manageable schedule to string some wins together before the All-Star Break. Hopefully, Muller will be able to join forces with Ian Anderson, Charlie Morton, and Drew Smyly to continue producing highly successful starts to to put the Braves in position to win on a nightly basis.
- In terms of Max Fried, Tucker Davidson, and Mike Soroka, the Braves have had plenty of unfortunate news off the field when it comes to their starting rotation over the past few weeks. However, the starters’ results on the mound have certainly been impressive as of late. In only his second career start, Kyle Muller produced nine strikeouts over five scoreless innings to earn his first career victory. It seems Muller may be in line for at least one other start until Fried returns to the rotation.
- Ronald Acuna Jr. once again made a bit of history on Sunday has his 21st home run of 2021 had a an exit velocity of 117.4 MPH, the hardest hit ball by a Braves player since Statcast data debuted in 2015. Acuna Jr. talked about how he gets a bit of extra motivation with pitchers throwing inside on him quite a bit. Hopefully, that motivation continues to turn into home runs as the first half of the season winds down.
- The offense has certainly struggled at times to support the starting staff this week. However, Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, and Ozzie Albies are continuing to round into form as one of the best offensive trios in the National League. They also are among the finalists to start the 2021 All-Star Game for the National League at their respective positions. Voting starts today and will conclude on Thursday. Make sure to get ready to vote for Freddie, Ronnie, and Ozzie throughout the week.
- Down on the farm, this weekend was highlighted by season debuts and level promotions. Touki Toussaint looked decent in his first outing in Gwinnett, while Darius Vines shined in his debut at Rome.
- The first ejection as a result of MLB’s new efforts to crackdown on the use of foreign substances by pitchers occurred Sunday. Southpaw Hector Santiago of the Seattle Mariners was tossed after umpires found a suspicious substance on his glove. Without a doubt, it will be interesting to see what the fall out is from this specific situation and any other occurrences that happen in the near future.
- Another day, another incredible performance from Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani produced three extra-base hits to finish a single shy of the cycle on Sunday. He extended his MLB leading extra-base hits total to 49 in the process. With the recent announcement that he will enter the 2021 Home Run Derby and the fact that he is an All-Star Finalist in the American League, Ohtani could be the brightest star of this year’s All-Star Game.
- While Kyle Muller was certainly impressive Sunday, he did not have the best performance of the day by a rookie. Max Kranick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who made his MLB debut on Sunday and ranks as the Pirates’ 26th prospect, fired five perfect innings against the Cardinals. With very little experience above Double A, it was certainly a memorable outing for Kranick.
- The NL West continues to be the best division in baseball. The Giants are 8-2 over their past ten games, and finished the week atop MLB.com’s latest Power Rankings. The Padres have won nine of their last ten, including a come from behind victory yesterday. The Dodgers also ended the weekend on an impressive note as Clayton Kershaw produced 13 strikeouts in a win over the Cubs.