The Astros land in Atlanta today for a weekend series against the red-hot Braves, who are charging hard on the Mets for the NL East crown. Atlanta has won 9 of their last 10 games and are now just 3.5 games behind NY in a division that looks to be a dogfight over the last couple of months of the season. Atlanta’s season has been defined by an offense that is consistently going nuts on opposing teams, and a top-ten pitching staff. On top of that, the Atlanta FO has made waves recently for signing young players to long contracts with the goal of locking down the talent they have for the foreseeable future.
Austin Riley has been one of their biggest boppers this season, crushing 30 homers with a .921 OPS this season, so expect the Astros’ staff to be very careful when pitching to him. Freddie-Freeman-replacement Matt Olson has also been swinging a hot bat, as well as Dansby Swanson, who is one of the few Braves seemingly determined to hit free agency at some point in the next decade. One might also expect fireworks from Michael Harris II this series as well. The young star made headlines recently when Atlanta locked him down with a contract that might keep him in Atlanta for the next 10 years. There’s buzz surrounding him concerning the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year as well, which is not surprising considering his .827 OPS for the season.
As for pitching, the Braves’ staff has been up there with some of the better arms in the league, though not quite in the top tier. That had a slight setback recently after ace Max Fried, who is having a career year and has pitched more innings than any other Brave, suffered a concussion on an awkward play against the Mets. It didn’t really seem to slow him down though, as he came back just last night with 7 innings of 2-run ball against those same Mets. Kyle Wright and Spencer Strider have both been solid as well, as has old friend Charlie Morton, all three of which the Astros will see this weekend.
As for the bullpen, there are some familiar faces in there, both good and bad. Collin McHugh and A.J. Minter have turned in excellent performances this season. Meanwhile, Kenley Jansen has been exactly what Atlanta needed on the back end, successfully converting 28 of 32 saves this season. Raisel Iglesias will see high leverage work as well after the Braves snapped up the former Angels closer earlier this season to be the “secondary closer” behind Jansen.
This series should be fun as we get watch another couple of heavyweights go at it. Hopefully the Astros can extract some revenge for last year’s World Series loss as they continue their march towards October. At the very least I’m sure a series win would add to the confidence already overflowing in Houston’s dugout.
Last 10 Games: 9-1 Record, 2 Series Sweep, 1 Series Win, +32 Run Differential (63 scored, 31 allowed)
W/L Splits: 40-23 at home, 33-24 on the road, 27-28 against teams over .500
Injured List: Chadwick Tromp: 10-Day IL (quadricep), Ehire Adrianza: 10-Day IL (illness), Adam Duvall: 60-Day IL (wrist), Orlando Arcia: 10-Day IL (hamstring), Darren O’Day: 15-Day IL (calf), Luke Jackson: 60-Day IL (elbow), Ozzie Albies: 60-Day IL (foot), Manny Pina: 60-Day IL (wrist), Mike Soroka: 60-Day IL (achilles)
Who wins this series?
Astros Sweep 3-0
Braves Sweep 3-0