After an abysmal 11-2 loss that featured back-to-back five-run innings, the Braves head south to Miami for a three-game weekend set with the Fish. The two teams previously met earlier in the season at SunTrust Park, with the Braves taking two out of three.
Everybody in the NL East is well aware the Marlins are the punching bag of the bunch. The team that represents this division in the playoffs is likely the one who makes the most of these games because the rest of the divisional matchups are going to be a blood bath.
The Braves did this last year, picking up a couple of games over the Mets and three over the Phillies by going 14-5 versus the Fish. This season, however, the Braves’ rivals are making the most of these matchups. The Phillies have already won five of seven, and the Mets swept their only series against Miami. It’s imperative Atlanta does the same. Eventually, one or multiple of these NL East teams are going to get hot and leave the Braves in the dust.
Looking past the Fish, Atlanta heads west to play three games with the Dodgers (not fun) and four games with the Diamondbacks. Then, they come home to play the Cardinals and Brewers. That’s about as grueling a stretch you’ll find in baseball – travel included. Imagine losing two out of three to the Marlins before that. Would it be time to panic?
I wouldn’t take it that far. The rotation is just beginning to come to form, and these bats haven’t even come close to working at their peak. The bullpen issue will have to work itself out internally. If there’s a silver lining – everybody’s bullpen sucks. The MLB season is a synonym for a marathon. It can never be judged until at least June. But an unfortunate series in Miami could rightfully have many re-thinking expectations.
So let’s hope its a productive business trip to South Beach.
Game 1 will feature Kevin Gausman (1-2, 4.80 ERA) vs. Jose Ureña (1-4, 5.08 ERA). Gausman hasn’t had much success in four starts since his first start of the season – where he threw seven shutout innings of two-hit baseball with seven strikeouts. The positive new: his first start came against the Marlins. Hopefully, that brings back some optimistic vibes for Gausman, who has given up five earned runs in his last two starts.
What Game 1 will really be about is Jose Ureña making his first start against the Braves since he was ejected for plunking our precious Ronald Acuña intentionally. It’s about as furious as you’ll ever see Brian Snitker, who confronted Ureña on the diamond. We will see if there is any retaliation in this one. I’d be a little shocked if there weren’t.
Penciled as the starters for Game 2 are Mike Soroka (2-1, 1.62 ERA) and Trevor Richards (0-4, 4.64 ERA). Soroka is emerging as a top of the line starter. The only thing that has held him back is his health. There’s a noticeable advantage for Atlanta is this one.
Julio Teheran (2-4, 5.35 ERA) takes on Pablo Lopez (2-4, 4.78) in Game 3. Teheran isn’t going to get any slack from the fans, but he’s been decent early on. The big innings have been the problem. Playing a weak Marlins lineup, this could be the game that turns the tide for Teheran.