The Braves took the field on Sunday, trying to scratch back to .500 for the first time since they were 6-6. Jaime Garcia was on the mound for Atlanta against Zack Godley, and it would not take long for the Braves to jump on top.
Brandon Phillips stayed hot, knocking in Ender Inciarte in the first inning with the one of his three doubles on the afternoon. Atlanta would add another run in the second, but it was Matt Kemp in the third that would break the game wide open. His three-run shot put the Braves 5-0, and two batters later, the other Matt, Matt Adams would add onto that lead with a solo shot of his own.
It was all Braves early and they never looked back. Jaime Garcia would pitch marvelously over seven innings, allowing just a single run and four hits. Luke Jackson and Akeel Morris would pitch a clean frame each to complete the three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks.
The win put the Braves at 45-45, seven games back of Arizona for the first Wild Card spot, and six back of Colorado for the second spot. The Nationals completed their sweep of the Reds, so despite the Braves hot start to the second half of the season they were unable to make up any ground in the division.
Yesterday’s game was spectacular, but it sat in the shadows of the swirling trade rumors that are beginning to rumble louder and louder. At this point, Atlanta could be buyers or sellers, and they look to be preparing heavily for both situations.
On the selling side, Bustner Onley of ESPN reported that the Braves are very seriously considering dealing Julio Teheran. Teheran has had a poor first half, but has long been a streaky pitcher, and if his last two starts are any indication, he could be on his way to a monster second half. Teams will still be willing to part ways with some prospects for his services given the nature of his team-friendly contract.
That move would almost certainly mean the Braves are giving up on this season, but there are several reports suggesting otherwise as well. Atlanta has shown interest in Justin Verlander.
The Braves have a top scout in Detroit this weekend. Verlander last night and Fulmer tonight. They'll continue to look for starting pitchers
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 15, 2017
Verlander would bing a true power arm to the top of the rotation. His large contract would also make the trade work more like a salary dump, rather than the Braves give up a boatload of prospects.
And that is not the only cost-controlled starter Atlanta has had their eyes on. They have previously showed interest in Sonny Gray and Jose Quintana, before he was traded to the Cubs.
If the Braves were to land a cost-controlled guy, Mark Bowman thinks it could be Jaime Garcia that is the odd man out of the rotation.
Today's start is the first of three Garcia could make before the deadline. The Braves may deal him and attempt to add a controllable starter
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 16, 2017
There are loads of moving parts to this situation. Though, one thing is for sure, the Braves will be one of the busiest teams at this year’s deadline, and with their loaded farm system, do not be surprised if they make a major splash.
Atlanta United Academy won the national championship yesterday behind two world class goals from Andrew Carleton.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONS ⚽️🏆
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) July 17, 2017
Carleton’s two quick second half goals were enough to beat the defending champions, FC Dallas, in the first ever season for Atlanta United!