After taking two of three from the Nationals and increasing their lead in the NL East, the Atlanta Braves will continue their homestand Friday when they begin a three-game series against the Miami Marlins. Atlanta improved to 74-65 with a thrilling win Thursday night thanks to a Joc Pederson walk-off single in the 10th inning. That victory pushed their lead in the NL East to 3.5 games over the Philadelphia Phillies and 5.0 games over the New York Mets.
The Marlins come in to the series having just took two of three from the Mets and have won four of their last five series overall. The Marlins are 4-3 so far in September and have held opponents to four runs or fewer in all but one of their last 10 games. The challenge for Miami has been scoring runs, as they’ve scored more than four runs just once in that span and have a bottom-five offense overall. Here are three things to watch for in the upcoming series.
NL East standings
Atlanta has three games with the Marlins and three with the Rockies before they head back out West for their final road trip of the regular season. They need to add as much cushion as possible before heading out to face the Giants, Diamondbacks and Padres. Philadelphia has three more games with the Rockies remaining, while the Mets will head to New York for a three-game series against the Yankees.
Atlanta is 9-7 against Miami this season and have won seven of the last nine matchups between these two teams. The Braves haven’t lost the season series against the Marlins since 2014, when they finished 9-10.
Adam Duvall surging
One of the biggest moves the Braves made at the deadline was acquiring Adam Duvall from the Marlins in exchange for catcher Alex Jackson. Duvall has put together a banner season. He set a new career-high with 34 homers in Thursday’s win. He now has an NL-leading 99 RBIs which is just four behind his career-best total of 103 he had in 2016 with Cincinnati. Since being acquired from Miami, Duvall has amassed 1.0 fWAR in just 144 PAs.
Friday, September 10 (Bally Sports Southeast)
Trevor Rogers (21 GS, 114.1 IP, 28.0 K%, 8.9 BB%, 2.52 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 3.66 xFIP)
Marlins rookie left-hander Trevor Rogers will get the start in Friday’s series opener. Rogers returned from a monthlong absence due to a family emergency this past weekend, allowing six hits and two runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Phillies. He threw 83 pitches in the game and continues to stretch back out. Rogers has faced Atlanta twice this season allowing a combined seven hits and four earned runs in nine innings. Rogers was an early Rookie of the Year candidate and still has highly impressive stats on the season, but faded a bit even before his leave — all three of his worst starts by Game Score have come in his last four outings, as well as three of his worst starts by xFIP.
Ian Anderson (20 GS, 104.2 IP, 22.2 K%, 10.2 BB%, 3.61 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 4.00 xFIP)
Ian Anderson will be making his third appearance since returning from the Injured List in Friday’s opener. Shoulder inflammation cost Anderson more than a month of his season and he hasn’t quite looked like himself in his return to the rotation. Anderson allowed four hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Giants in his first start back, but did so without striking out a batter. He allowed five hits, four runs and issued four walks in just three innings in his last outing against the Rockies. In 8 2/3 innings since his return, Anderson has issued six walks and has no strikeouts. Anderson probably can’t count on most of the balls he allows to be put in play finding gloves like they did against San Francisco, so hopefully he can return to form against a subpar offensive unit like the Marlins.
Anderson has faced Miami twice this season, allowing three runs in six innings with a 6/4 K/BB ratio in April (the Dansby Swanson walkoff game), and then suffering what was, at that point, the worst start of his career on July 11 in Miami, after which he hit the shelf.
Saturday, September 11 (Bally Sports Southeast)
Elieser Hernandez (7 GS, 32.1 IP, 24.3 K%, 4.4 BB%, 3.90 ERA, 5.58 FIP, 4.04 xFIP)
Right-hander Elieser Hernandez will get the call for the Marlins Saturday. Hernandez spent the majority of the season on the Injured List with a quadriceps injury. He has made four starts since returning and has pitched pretty well. This is a big stretch for him as he tries to show that he belongs in the conversation for a spot in Miami’s rotation going forward. He allowed three hits, three runs and struck out six in his last start against the Phillies. While the Braves haven’t faced Hernandez yet in 2021, his best two career starts have both come against Atlanta — six scoreless with a 7/2 K/BB ratio in 2019, and five scoreless with a 9/0 K/BB ratio last season.
Hernandez has allowed an absurd nine homers in seven starts so far this season, and hasn’t yet had a start where he hasn’t been taken deep. There could be some fireworks in this one.
Charlie Morton (28 GS, 158.0 IP, 28.6 K%, 7.9 BB%, 3.47 ERA, 3.29 FIP, 3.25 xFIP)
The Charlie Morton signing has worked out so well for Atlanta that they inked him to a one-year extension Monday that also includes a team option for 2023. Morton has been rock solid for the Braves pretty much all season. He allowed two hits and two runs over seven innings in his last start against the Rockies.
Morton has already faced Miami five times this season. The results have been pretty subpar (4.76 ERA, Braves winning three of the five games), but the peripherals have been on par with his performance against everyone else (3.10 FIP, 3.30 xFIP).
Sunday, September 12 (Bally Sports Southeast)
Edward Cabrera (3 GS, 12.2 IP, 9.3 K%, 13.0 BB%, 7.11 ERA, 9.09 FIP, 6.24 xFIP)
Pitching prospect Edward Cabrera will get the call for the Marlins on Sunday. Cabrer is the Marlins’ No. 5 prospect according to both FanGraphs and Baseball America. He made his major league debut on August 25 but it has been a rough go of it for him over his first three starts. Through 12 2/3 innings pitched, Cabrera has allowed four homers, hit four batters, walked seven and struck out five. Still, he is a young prospect with a big-time fastball and a pair of breaking pitches. Cabrera also throws a bizarre 92 mph changeup, which is his most-used pitch in the majors so far. Both it and his fastball have been absolutely destroyed due to poor command so far, but it’ll be an interesting outing to watch.
Max Fried (24 GS, 136.2 IP, 24.1 K%, 6.9 BB%, 3.42 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 3.53 xFIP)
After a slow start to 2021, Max Fried has been locked in during the second half of the season. He is coming off a start where he clearly didn’t have his best stuff but was able to successfully navigate six scoreless innings against the Nationals despite a lot of baserunners. Fried last faced Miami on July 10 where he allowed nine hits and three runs over five innings. He’s faced the Marlins three times this year in total and fared pretty poorly in each outing, including giving up eight runs to the Marlins in the game where he hurt himself running the bases back in April.