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No Joc Pederson yet, Abraham Almonte hits leadoff on Friday night

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I guess Joc Pederson couldn’t get a flight to Atlanta in sufficient time

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images

Just like the headline says: no Joc Pederson yet. Maybe tomorrow. Hopefully. Instead, we get a lineup in which Abraham Almonte slots in at leadoff, with the usual 2-3-4, and then Orlando Arcia hitting fifth.

Almonte hasn’t yet been penciled in to the leadoff spot for the Braves this season, and he hasn’t started a game there since September 2019, when he was with the Diamondbacks. This is also a novel defensive arrangement, as the Braves haven’t yet played Arcia and Almonte in the same outfield.

As for this unit’s familiarity with Michael Wacha — there’s some, but not a lot.

Wacha’s been around forever but hasn’t really had a good start against the Braves since early in 2017; he was destroyed by Atlanta when he was pitching for the Mets in one outing last year.

The DH-less Rays line up this way:

Randy Arozarena is the big omission from this lineup — the Rays rotate their DH a lot, but it’s usually Austin Meadows, who is starting in right field today while Arozarena gets an extended rest. After 2020’s heroics, Arozarena has a sub-.300 xwOBA and is playing fairly poorly, so this was perhaps an obvious choice, even given Meadows’ potential defensive issues.

The Rays are familiar with Morton given that he was their teammate — but not so much their opponent:

It’ll be minorly interesting to see how Morton and Mike Zunino adjust to one another, given that they were battery-mates not too long ago.

And now, the Statcast graphic.