The Atlanta Braves move to 43-44 with a 5-0 victory over the Miami Marlins, led by an excellent performance from Charlie Morton.
The Atlanta Braves beat the Marlins to get within a game of .500 yet again this season. The Braves slipped up early in the week against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates or we could be talking about them being over .500 for the first time this season.
However, they can still get over the .500 mark before the All-Star break with a sweep over their division foes. They got it started with a nice win in game one of the series.
Here are five takeaways from tonight’s game and the Atlanta Braves in general.
5. Charlie Morton continues his stellar stretch
Charlie Morton was brilliant tonight. Uncle Charlie pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits, two walks, and striking out seven Marlins.
That drops his ERA to 3.64 on the season. His 3.42 FIP and 3.43 xFIP suggests it should continue to drop if he keeps this performance up.
The biggest issue with Morton has been the “one big inning” that has gotten him repeatedly throughout the year. Once players get on base, he has struggled.
- High Leverage: 8.12 FIP, 3.87 xFIP
- Men in Scoring Position: 6.91 FIP, 4.10 xFIP
If one removes those big innings, Charlie has been great for the Braves this season. Hopefully, he continues to be big in the second half of the season.
4. Freddie Freeman has turned it around
Freddie Freeman got it started in the first inning with a solo home run that was the only Braves run until the seventh inning. It has been nice seeing Freddie get some luck to fall his way to improve his overall numbers.
Freeman has been hitting the ball well all season, as seen with his .304 xBA, .577 xSLG, .409 xwOBA, and .472 xwOBAcon, which all rank in the top four percent of the league. What has turned around for Freddie has been his luck.
Look at these splits:
- April & May: .235/.364/.464, .351 wOBA, and a 120 wRC+
- Since June 1st: .316/394/.478 .375 wOBA and a 136 wRC+
Combine that and he has a .270/.379/.478 .366 wOBA and a 129 wRC+. Add in eighteen home runs, fifty-six runs, and forty-seven RBIs and that makes a great season.
Hopefully, Freddie is approaching an extended hot stretch that can help lead the Braves offense towards a playoff push.
3. Ronnie and the Braves get fired up
Ronald Acuña Jr. was hit by a pitch by the Miami Marlins (again). Now, it was a slider and (probably) was not intentional. However, one can understand Acuña’s frustration since it seems like the Marlins hit him once a series.
It was probably unintentional, but it did get Ronald fired up and looks like it may have fired the rest of the Braves offense up as well.
They added another run in the eighth inning as Orlando Arcia doubled home Dansby Swanson to push the lead to 4-zip. In the ninth, Swanson hit an RBI single to score Riley and give the Braves their fifth and final run.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it felt like the team had a different level of energy after Acuña got plunked.
2. Do not overlook the bullpen
Charlie Morton was excellent tonight, but do not overlook the two innings out of the pen tonight.
Luke Jackson pitched a scoreless inning, allowing only one baserunner on a walk while striking out one Marlin.
Jackson has been great this year with a 1.69 ERA. He is currently outpitching his 4.20 FIP and 4.08 xFIP, but whatever he is doing is currently getting the job done.
Jesse Chavez also pitched a scoreless inning during the ninth. He struck out two Marlins hitters to close out the game. Chavez has been a great find for the Braves this year.
It is a short sample of only 7.2 innings, but Chavez currently has a 2.35 ERA, 0.83 FIP, and 1.52 xFIP. That is really good and makes one wonder when he will begin to see higher leverage situations.
Both of these men pitched great tonight and gave the Braves a reason not to worry late. Something the bullpen has not always afforded the team this year.
1. Max Fried and another chance for .500
Max Fried will take the bump for the Braves against the Marlins on Saturday against All-Star Trevor Rogers who has been great this year. A win means the Braves get back to .500 and have a shot to get over .500 for the first time this season before the break.
Not only do the Braves get another shot, but Max also gets another shot: last Monday the team had a chance to get to .500 against the Pirates and Fried was not himself that evening.
Hopefully, Fried can show us why people label him the Ace of the staff, and give the Braves a strong outing on the mound. It will be a huge momentum boost to finally get over .500 before the All-Star break.
Personally, I love the Braves chances every time Fried takes the mound. I feel confident that he can give the Braves a great outing.