After the Braves took one out of three games against the Rays, the post-All Star break gauntlet for Atlanta continues on as the Padres come into town for a three-game series of their own.
This is a matchup of two third-place teams in their respective divisions, and the Braves are actually closer to their division leaders (four games back heading into today) than the Padres are (five games back), but that’s a tale of two divisions. The Mets are struggling to stay afloat, while the Giants continue to impress by flying high atop the NL West. San Diego currently has a firm grip on the second Wild Card spot, while the Braves are basically focusing on the division at the moment.
Judging by how both teams can swing the bat, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if we saw plenty of runs put on the board by either side. The Padres are rolling into this series with a team wRC+ of 104 and a .166 Isolated Power number. This is after they spent the weekend in Washington scoring 24 (!!!), 10, and 7 runs in each of the three games, so to say that they’re swinging the bat with confidence at the moment is an understatement. Still, the Braves have been known to break out and have big nights at the plate, themselves — they’re coming into this game with a 101 wRC+ as a team and a .188 ISO. So while this isn’t a guarantee that the Braves and Padres are going to be slugging it out tonight, it’s a reminder that it wouldn’t be surprising if that’s what happened.
It’ll also be interesting to see how Yu Darvish fares as the starter for the Padres this evening. He’s been on the IL due to a hip injury, but he’s done his ten days on the Injured List and is set to return. Something must’ve been wrong with him during his most recent start on July 8, which is when he gave up six runs in just three innings against the Nationals at Petco Park. Even before that start, he gave up four runs in six innings against the Phillies, so Darvish has been on a pretty rough run since the calendar moved into July. Additionally, the Braves had some success against Darvish when they last saw him in 2019. Granted, only four guys (Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Austin Riley) from that game in 2019 are going to be playing in tonight’s game, but there are still enough guys in the lineup who are familiar with Darvish and shouldn’t be too befuddled about what the 34-year-old hurler has to offer.
Meanwhile, Kyle Muller’s elevator journey between the big leagues and Triple-A continues on, as he’s been called up to make the start for the Braves tonight. The last time we saw him, he made it two outs into the sixth inning before leaving the game against the Marlins and that was after he tossed five shutout innings against the Reds (in Cincinnati, mind you) in his previous start. Whenever Muller has come up for a start, he’s usually given the Braves something to work with. Tonight will be a huge test for him as he’ll be taking on a really good Padres lineup, but I think we can all have faith in Muller rising to the occasion in this one.
While the Braves may be entering this series on a note of frustration after dropping what was a very winnable series against the Rays, they now have a chance to wipe out those memories by picking up a win tonight against a really good Padres team. There’s going to be a lot of intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s return from a quick IL stint and as always, seeing Kyle Muller on the mound for the Braves is always exciting. Tonight should be a good game, and hopefully it ends on a positive note for our Braves!
Game Date/Time: Monday, July 19, 7:20 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network