Following their sweep of the Mets, the magic number to clinch the NL East is down to just one, but the Braves couldn’t find the answers against Jesus Lazardo and the Marlins last night. The Fish jumped out in front 4-0 on Bryce Elder and never turned back. Lazardo finished six shutout innings, and the Marlins bullpen was equally as impressive, finishing off the final three frames without allowing a hit. It was only the fifth time the Braves had been shutout all season, but given the circumstances, it’s not all that astonishing.
Atlanta is coming off the most emotional series of the season, and whether people want to acknowledge it or not, they are well aware they need just one win to clinch the division. Add onto that they had to travel following a Sunday Night Baseball game and didn’t arrive in Miami until nearly four in the morning — you have the perfect recipe for a letdown spot. There’s absolutely no reason to panic, but Braves fans aren’t going to feel at ease until they have the division and that all-important first-round bye wrapped up, and things won’t exactly get easier today with Jake Odorizzi set to take the mound.
Since coming to Atlanta, Odorizzi has been abysmal, recording a 5.66 ERA, 5.34 WHIP, and 1.669 WHIP over 41.1 innings. But with Spencer Strider shut down for the remainder of the regular season, the Braves don’t have much of a choice. They could have turned to Kyle Muller, but I’m not sure tossing a rookie in a division-clinching game is the answer either. I imagine the hope is for Odorizzi to give the Braves just a few quality innings. He will surely have an incredibly short leash, especially after Atlanta rested most of their high-leverage relief arms last night.
For the Marlins, they will turn to Braxton Garrett, who has made 16 starts this season and owns a 3.56 ERA. He also appeared one time against the Braves back on August 14th and was lights out, tossing six scoreless innings in a no-decision.
As far as the starting pitching matchup, the Marlins undoubtedly own the edge but expect the Braves bullpen to take over rather quickly if Jake Odorizzi finds any trouble. Of course, there’s also a chance Atlanta has already clinched the NL East before this game even starts. The Mets play a doubleheader against the Nationals today, with the first game set to begin at 4:10 ET. If New York falls behind, that will surely have an effect on how Brian Snitker handles his pitching staff.
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