Braves: Who needs to heat up against Washington’s three-headed monster?

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Unfortunately, since the Nationals haven’t played yet, the Braves will likely face Washington’s best — Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. Hopefully, with Atlanta getting an extra day of rest, they can put a bad first series behind them. I’m going to break down the guys who need to get hot during this series, which is easier said than done.

One could probably sum up this article by saying “the offense,” but I wanted to break down each player and include some pitchers who will likely see some action from now until the doubleheader is finished. The Braves actually had a decent amount of hard-hit balls, and they’ve been victims of some bad luck, which won’t continue over 162 games. It’s still only three games into a long season, and the Braves have been slow starters before, but here are a few guys that would benefit from a bounce-back series.


LHP Drew Smyly

Season Stats: N/A

Smyly hasn’t pitched yet, so he doesn’t need to get “hot” per se, but it would be nice for him to start the season off on the right foot with Atlanta only carrying four starters. When an offense is sputtering, pitching has to keep the team in games — something they have done for the most part.


LHP Sean Newcomb

Season Stats: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

Newcomb hasn’t looked terrible in 2021, but this is a tiny sample size. With Atlanta using an opener for the doubleheader on Wednesday, Newcomb will likely see some action in at least one game. If Newk is going to prove he belongs as a bullpen piece, it would be beneficial to get a few good innings under his belt.


CF Cristian Pache

Season Stats: 1-10, 1 2B, 4 K, .300 OPS

Pache is a bit younger than anyone on this list, so a few struggles are expected. The early strikeouts are a bit concerning, but I expect him to find a rhythm soon.


SS Dansby Swanson

Season Stats: 1-10, 3 K, .200 OPS

Dansby was a guy I expected to be a big breakout candidate for 2021 because he led all NL Shortstops in WAR in 2020. His “bad luck” seems to be in play early, and even though it’s a small sample size, his .167 BABIP indicates he’s squaring the ball up well.


RF Ronald Acuña Jr

Season Stats: 2-12, 1 2B, 1 BB, 5 K, .481 OPS

Ronald probably would have led off the 2021 season with a home run if it wasn’t for the wind, as he a bomb was caught in some swirling wind in Philadelphia on the first pitch against Aaron Nola. Ronald has been his aggressive self, and while he’s no stranger to slow starts, he is the catalyst as the leadoff hitter. He’ll be just fine, especially with a .286 BABIP so far.


2B Ozzie Albies

Season Stats: 0-12, 1 K

Only striking out once is a good sign, as Ozzie is still making contact with the ball. Like Ronald, he has been a slow starter before, and I fully expect him to get into a rhythm sooner rather than later.


LF Marcell Ozuna

Season Stats: 1-11, 1 BB, 7 K

Ozuna had one of the hardest-hit balls against Aaron Nola into the wind, a lineout at 107.4 MPH off of the bat. Still, when he’s getting paid this much, you would expect a lot more out of the first series. His .250 BABIP indicates he has been a victim of some bad luck early on, but his strikeouts still need to come down a bit.


1B Freddie Freeman

Season Stats: 0-9, 3 BB, 1 K

Freeman was another guy who striped Nola on Opening Day, with a 106.2 MPH exit velocity flyout. Still, the 2020 NL MVP is without a hit in nine at-bats to start the season. The three walks are encouraging, but Freeman needs to get a few knocks in this series before seeing Philly again on Friday.

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