Braves’ Keuchel dominates in Rome, Gausman continues to struggle

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With a few extra faces in the crowd, Dallas Keuchel made his Braves debut in low-A Rome against the Charleston Riverdogs. It was a drop off in class from what the former Cy Young Award winner is used to in the American League, but the newest Braves’ toy did what he was supposed to do on Monday night – dominate.

If you looked down while Keuchel was on the mound, you most likely missed the entire frame. The southpaw was mixing his pitches to perfection and keeping the ball down in the strike zone the whole night. As a result, the Riverdogs were pounding balls into the dirt for easy outs. Keuchel also struck out nine in seven innings of work. Through six innings, he had thrown 58 pitches, and the game had only lasted an hour. The Braves would take him out following a 19 pitch seventh inning. His only blemishes were a second-inning single and walk in the seventh.

At around the same time, the Atlanta Braves kicked off their lengthy ten-game homestand against the Pirates. Looking for revenge, Kevin Gausman took the mound after being lit up by the Bucs last time out. Unfortunately for him, not much would be different.

Gausman wasn’t helped by his defense. An error by Acuña led to an unearned run in the first. Although, the Braves star centerfielder would make up for it in the second inning, hitting a grand slam for his 15th home run of the season. Nick Markakis pushed the lead to 5-1 later that inning.

With a little bit of breathing room, Gausman went back to work in the third. He gave up a leadoff single, then committed a throwing error to put two runners on for Starling Marte, who did not miss. His three-run homer quickly halted the Braves momentum. Not too long after, Brian Snitker had seen enough, pulling his starter with just one out in the third. Gausman only threw 55 pitches.

Following the game, Gausman admitted he was surprised to be pulled so early, but also understood that he hasn’t been reliable for a few starts now.

He’s right. The Braves disgruntled veteran has allowed an absurd 19 runs in his last 8.1 innings pitched. Brian Snitker acknowledged why he decided to give Gausman the early hook as well.

The move turned out to be a splendid one. Sean Newcomb relieved Gaus and threw 4.2 innings of scoreless baseball with six strikeouts and no walks. The Braves bats would continue to add on, as Ozzie Albies hit two home runs in a 13-7 triumph.

Gausman is set to make his next start on Saturday against the Phillies. Keuchel is scheduled to pitch on Saturday too, but he isn’t sure for which minor-league affiliate. As fantastic as he was, I wouldn’t expect him up in the majors after one minor league start against 19 and 20-year-olds. Keuchel will likely have at least one more start in the minors before being called up to Atlanta.

However, I wouldn’t say that guarantees Gausman another start. The Braves are going to want to put their best foot forward this weekend against the Phillies. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Newcomb took his place in the rotation until Keuchel is ready.

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