Let’s start this off with some good news — that being that the Braves will be hosting the Reds tonight for the first of three games. This will be Atlanta’s 32nd game of the year against NL Central competition, and they are 20-11 in those games. The Braves currently have more wins against the Central this season than the Cardinals (19) or the Pirates (12) and aren’t far behind the Cubs (22) in that category, either. The bad news is that the Braves won’t have any more opportunities to take on NL Central competition past this Thursday (unless it somehow happens in the Postseason).
With all of that being said, the Reds definitely won’t be entering this game feeling like they’re supposed to be jobber material for the Braves. Cincinnati has won seven of their last ten games so just like the Braves, they’ve been playing some pretty good baseball as of late. While Atlanta’s 7-3 stretch of games has only pushed them to reaching the “promised land” of being over .500 for the first time all season, the Reds have ridden that run of form to being nine games clear of the .500 mark. This is a good team coming into Cobb County tonight, and one that is only three-and-a-half games out of a Wild Card spot at the moment.
Cincinnati’s starter tonight will be Sonny Gray, who has been all over the place as of late. I’d imagine that two things are going to happen tonight, for sure: Sonny Gray is going to strike out his fair share of batters and he’s going to have to deal with a bunch of baserunners as well. The difference will be if the Braves can cash in those runners or if Sonny Gray can strand them. He’s sitting on a 73.8 percent Left-On-Base rate this season, but he’s gotten hit pretty hard in two of his past three games so he could be entering this game in a state of vulnerability. This definitely has the potential to be a volatile night for Cincinnati’s starter, especially if the big-swinging version of the Braves lineup shows up for tonight’s game.
Meanwhile, Drew Smyly is starting for the Braves tonight and we may have an even better idea of what to expect from him tonight than what could be in store for Sonny Gray this evening. In his past six starts dating back to July 2, Smyly has either given up three runs or none whatsoever. Now granted, four of those were of the “three run” variety and he hasn’t gone particularly deep in any of those games (especially his past three starts, which all lasted four innings each), but at least it’s something bordering on consistency?
Anyways, I think we all know the book on Smyly at this point: Get whatever you can from him as he goes through the lineup two times and knowing how Brian Snitker utilizes him, just pray that nothing goes horribly wrong once he dips his toes into the third trip around the order. So basically, if Smyly can give the Braves a handful of innings without letting things get completely out of control, the Braves should hopefully be in good shape to compete for the rest of the game. It is worth noting that Smyly did go six innings with only one run allowed against the Reds the last time he saw them back in June, so he does have some success against them this season.
Personally, I’m very interested in seeing how this pitching matchup turns out. I feel like we’ve got a good idea of what to expect from Smyly and Gray tonight, but also baseball is a weird sport and surprises are never too far away, so there’s an element of excitement surrounding this game. Additionally, both teams have been playing well as of late and are starting to ride a second wind into the latter stages of the season. This should be an entertaining series and here’s hoping that the Braves start it off on the right foot with a win.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, August 10, 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