The Marlins come in struggling, but Atlanta will have their hands full with Sandy Alcantara on the mound Friday.
After taking two of three from the Colorado Rockies, the Atlanta Braves will continue their homestand Friday when they begin a three-game series against the Miami Marlins. Atlanta improved to 81-51 behind a dominant performance by Spencer Strider in a 3-0 win Thursday night to keep pace with the New York Mets, who took two of three from the Dodgers. Atlanta will enter play Friday 3.0 games back in the NL East standings.
It has been another tough season for the Marlins, who come into Friday’s opener with a 55-75 record, good for fourth place in the NL East . Miami’s starting rotation ranks 12th in the majors in fWAR. However, they have been dragged down by an offense that is ranked 27th in the majors in runs scored, combining bottom-five offensive production with mediocre defense. Jazz Chisholm Jr. was enjoying a breakout season at the plate, but is on the Injured List along with offseason additions Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler. Beyond that, there’s not much to really zero in on — Jon Berti is having a good season by combining average performance with great baserunning, and catcher Nick Fortes has played well in limited time to take some of the sting out of how awful Jacob Stallings has been, but there’s not much else there. Anthony Bass was great in relief and then got traded; he is still nearly 75 percent of the bullpen’s total fWAR despite not even being on the team for the last month.
Friday, September 2, 7:20 p.m. ET (Apple TV+)
Sandy Alcantara (26 GS, 185.2 IP, 23.2 K%, 6.2 BB%, 2.13 ERA, 2.86 FIP)
The Braves will face Cy Young favorite Sandy Alcantara in the series opener Friday night. Alcantara has been dominant in two starts this season against Atlanta. He allowed six hits and three unearned runs in a complete game performance back on May 22. He came back six days later and allowed four hits, a run and struck out 14 over eight innings. Alcantara is coming off of one of his most impressive outings of the season where he allowed six hits, one run and struck out 10 in a complete game win over the Dodgers. The Braves’ best hope is that his abnormally-low HR/FB rate starts to creep up against them; Alcantara allowed homers in back-to-back starts (both against the Dodgers) for just the second time this season, and has only been taken deep 10 times total so far in 2022.
Charlie Morton (25 GS, 140.1 IP, 28.6 K%, 8.5 BB%, 4.10 ERA, 3.97 FIP)
Charlie Morton will make his 26th start of the season for the Braves in Friday’s series opener. Morton wasn’t sharp last time out, allowing five hits, three walks and four runs, including a pair of home runs, in five innings against the Cardinals. Morton only recorded four strikeouts which was his lowest totalsince May 25 against the Phillies. He has faced the Marlins once this season back on May 20 where he allowed seven hits, three runs and struck out five in 5 1/3 innings.
Saturday, September 3, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Edward Cabrera (8 GS, 44.0 IP, 26.8 K%, 12.3 BB%, 2.45 ERA, 3.96 FIP)
Young right-hander Edward Cabrera will get the start for Miami on Saturday. Cabrera saw some action in June, but rejoined the Miami rotation on August 5 and has been impressive posting a 1.91 ERA and a 3.30 FIP in 28 1/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run in his first four starts in August (22 2/3 innings) before giving up six runs in 5 2/3 innings in his last start against the Dodgers. Cabrera faced the Braves once last season and allowed three hits, three walks and two runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Cabrera is a bit of an oddball as a changeup-first pitcher who has a five-pitch arsenal and really struggles to command his four-seamer, curve, and slider. His changeup isn’t really a “normal” changeup, as it’s more like a soft sinker, but it gives hitters a lot of trouble. It doesn’t get a lot of separation from his fastballs, which hitters have jumped all over so far; his breaking pitches don’t look effective on paper but seem to have bamboozled hitters so far as well.
Jake Odorizzi (17 GS, 85.1 IP, 18.3 K%, 6.7 BB%, 3.90 ERA, 4.22 FIP)
Jake Odorizzi will make his sixth start since joining the Braves in Saturday’s matchup. After struggling in his first three outings, Odorizzi has pitched better of late. He held the Pirates to four hits, one run and struck out seven in six innings two starts ago. He held the Cardinals scoreless through five in his last outing, before allowing a pair of runs to cross while trying to complete the sixth. He has 11 strikeouts and just one walk over his last 11 2/3 innings. It remains to be seen whether he’s going to try to implement his insane “75 percent four-seam fastballs” approach from the game against the Cardinals more going forward, or whether that was just a one-off. Odorizzi had a mediocre start against Miami on August 12, with a 2/1 K/BB ratio in four innings of work.
Sunday, September 4, 1:35 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Pablo Lopez (26 GS, 146.0 IP, 23.7 K%, 7.5 BB%, 3.64 ERA, 3.76 FIP)
Pablo Lopez will get the start in Sunday’s series finale. Lopez has been inconsistent of late, but got off to a terrific start in 2022 and has been solid overall for the Marlins. He allowed six runs and couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning two starts ago against the Padres. Since then, he has allowed two earned runs combined over his next two outings. He faced the Braves back on August 12 and allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Max Fried (25 GS, 158.1 IP, 22.7 K%, 4.3 BB%, 2.56 ERA, 2.54 FIP)
Max Fried will get the call for Atlanta in the series finale Sunday. Fried wasn’t sharp in his last start, but still gave the Braves an opportunity to win. He allowed seven hits and three runs, although only two were earned, over five innings against the Rockies. The unearned run came as a result of his first error of the season. It was an uncharacteristically problematic outing for the ace, and hopefully he rights the ship against another weak offense on Sunday Fried faced the Marlins back on May 29 and allowed six hits and one run over six innings.