The start of the second half of the season for the Braves is similar to what defined their first season.
Bullpen struggles have thwarted efforts from the starting pitching and lineup in three of the five games the Braves have played since returning from the All-Star Break.
The end result is Atlanta being 4.5 games back in the NL East race nine days before the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline. However, the Braves play the two teams in front of them in the division, the Mets and Phillies, nine times over the next eight days. Simply put, the Braves will gain a very good idea as to how this 2021 season will go over the next week.
While that certainly may seem ominous with the flaws of this team, there also should be a feeling of positivity that a lot of certainty will be gained about the Braves chances’ in 2021 over the next several days. If they win, then it makes sense to be somewhat aggressive to at least have a chance to get to and in the postseason. If they lose, Atlanta has plenty of reason to focus on the future. One way or the other, it seems as if Atlanta will have a good idea of where its efforts will need to be focused after the next week.
Yet, the best approach to make the most of this stretch is to simply to take it one day at a time. All winning streaks must start with winning the first game, and the Braves should feel confident in their ability to do that with Charlie Morton on the mound tonight. Atlanta is 8-3 over Morton’s last eleven starts. While Morton has not been entirely dominant over that stretch, he has put the Braves in a position to win every time he takes the mound.
Of course, one team Morton has struggled against this year is the Phillies. Though a 3.09 ERA in 11 2⁄3 innings against the Phillies may not seem that bad, Morton has actually allowed 10 runs and 14 hits over that stretch despite only four runs being earned. He had his worst outing of the year against Philly earlier this season. However, despite his struggles, these three starts each occurred more than two months ago. Morton has certainly settled in and produced for the Braves since then.
For the Phillies, southpaw Matt Moore will take the mound. Like Morton, the Phillies have had good success since Moore has moved into the rotation. They have won each of Moore’s past four starts. The Phillies seem to be utilizing Moore as a way to get through their opponent’s lineups two times before handing the game over to their bullpen. With 31 runs of support in those games, the results make sense.
However, Moore is a matchup the Braves have to like their chances against. Over seven innings across three appearances against Atlanta this season, Moore has allowed six earned runs and two home runs. Moore has also allowed right handed hitters to produce a .973 OPS against him this year. It seems names such as Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, and Ozzie Albies could be in line for good opportunities that they must take advantage of to win.
Of course, its is hard to trust any lead at this point when it comes to the Braves, though they done a decent job over the past few days besides a bad outing from Shane Greene. Perhaps the Braves can string a few games together of solid pitching with a consistent offense to get two early victories in this series. With a win tonight, the Braves will certainly create a bit of momentum that to support Max Fried tomorrow night.
Any success has to start somewhere. The Braves have to be fully focused on making the most of Morton being on the mound tonight.
Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2021
Game Time: 7:05 EST
Location: Citizen’s Bank Park
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network