Huascar Ynoa makes his highly-anticipated return as Braves aim to extend their division lead

Huascar Ynoa Atlanta

After a full three months on the shelf, Huascar Ynoa will return to the mound for the Braves tonight against the Marlins. The hard-throwing 23-year-old was among the Braves few bright spots to begin the season, pitching to the tune of a 4-2 record and 3.09 ERA in his first eight starts. Ynoa was no slouch in the batter’s box either, recording an OPS of 1.118 with a couple of homers over 17 plate appearances.

However, his scorching start quickly turned sour after he broke his hand by punching the dugout following a forgettable outing against the Brewers. Hopefully, that’s the first and last time Ynoa has to be reminded that hard concrete beats human bones 99 times out of 100, but he’s back, and the Braves have been able to take care of business without him.

Following last night’s 12-2 victory over the Marlins, Atlanta now owns their biggest lead in the NL East all season. The Phillies are still just 1.5 games back, but the Mets — who led the division by five games just a couple of weeks ago — are now already 3.5 games back… and they still have nine more games in a row against the Dodgers and Giants. It’s very possible that New York finds themselves out of the race altogether before the calendar reaches September, especially if the Braves keep playing like they have been.

Before returning to Atlanta, Ynoa made three rehab starts on the farm. None of them were very impressive; his best outing came with Gwinnett on August 6th, in which he tossed 3.2 innings of one-run ball. However, he didn’t suffer any setbacks, and apparently, the Braves saw enough to add him back into their rotation. We will see just how long of a leash they have with Ynoa, but I imagine he might be a candidate for the bullpen once Ian Anderson is cleared to return from his shoulder injury.

For the Marlins tonight, the ultra-talented Sandy Alcantara will toe the rubber. The 25-year-old is another hard-throwing right-hander that is having a fantastic season, posting a 7-10 record with a 3.52 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, and he’s had the Braves’ number over his career. In six starts against Atlanta, Alcantara is 2-0 with a 2.43 ERA.

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