Reynaldo Lopez shines in Braves debut, but offense goes cold

MLB: APR 02 Braves at White Sox

On a frigid evening in Chicago, Reynaldo Lopez made his Braves debut against his former team. Atlanta’s newest acquisition spent seven seasons with the White Sox before being traded to the Angels prior to the trade deadline last year and eventually signing with Atlanta this offseason.

But for the last few years, Lopez has been used strictly as a reliever. The Braves had a different vision for him, opting to stretch him out during Spring Training, and he did enough to earn the final spot in the rotation over the likes of Bryce Elder, AJ Smith-Shawver, and others.

Who knows if the Braves plan to keep him there for the rest of the season, but if Tuesday night was any indication, it might not be a bad idea. Lopez was fantastic, tossing six innings of one-run ball while striking out five, with the only run coming off a weakly hit single by Gavin Sheets. Lopez showed a nice mix of pitches, featuring a fastball that increased velocity throughout the start, touching 97 at times, with a couple of impressive breaking pitches and even a changeup. Not too shabby for a pitcher that has only made one other start since 2022.

Unfortunately, Garrett Crochet was on the other side for the White Sox, and the 2020 first-round pick was dealing. He’s one of the few players in MLB history to ever go straight to the majors after being drafted, but like Lopez, he’s been used in a relief role. The White Sox decided to change that this year, and they just might have found an ace.

Crochet was humming it from the left side, touching 99 on several occasions and giving the Braves bats fits. Atlanta didn’t get their first hit until the fifth inning, but they were able to tie the game at one apiece in the seventh after a home run off the bat of Marcell Ozuna, the only source of offense for the Braves on Tuesday.

The tie wouldn’t last long, however. A.J. Minter relieved Lopez in the seventh and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced. The White Sox were then able to extend their lead in the 8th with a bloop single into no man’s land right behind Orlando Arcia.

The Braves made things interesting in the ninth, beginning with another Marcell Ozuna homer. A walk by Michael Harris and a single from Orlando Arcia with two outs put the tying run in scoring position, but Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t give Lopez’s Braves debut a storybook ending, popping out to shortstop to end the game.

It was one of those games for the Braves offense. Garrett Crochet has some of the nastiest stuff in the game, and the weather didn’t do them any favors. I would imagine this group can’t wait to get home for the first time all season after playing their first two series in cold and rainy weather to begin the year. Friday night at Truist Park can’t get here soon enough.

Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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