Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves is finally upon us. We break down everything you need to know about their upcoming series with the Cincinnati Reds.
Even in the glow of winning the 2021 World Series, the offseason was a struggle at times for many Atlanta Braves fans. At certain times we thought this day may never get here.
But here we are … it’s Opening Day!
And perhaps the only good thing caused by the owner’s lockout is that the Atlanta Braves finally get to open a season at home.
It will be a weekend of celebration with the pennant being raised and World Series rings handed out.
But even more important than that, Braves baseball is back!
Braves vs. Reds Series Preview
Thursday — 8:08 pm ET — Max Fried vs. Tyler Mahle
There is no one better to start Opening Day for the Braves than their ace Max Fried who finished off the World Series. The lefty enters the season as a darkhorse NL Cy Young candidate.
Not many Reds players have a ton of experience against Fried. In fact, of those who do, they are a combined 2-22 off him.
The Reds will be without Luis Castillo for this series, so Tyler Mahle gets the Opening Day nod. He struck out 210 batters last year and is a pitcher on the rise.
Braves regulars are 10-35 against the righty. Marcell Ozuna has a home run in 9 at-bats against Mahle.
Friday — 7:20 pm ET — Reiver Sanmartin vs. Charlie Morton
The last time we saw Charlie Morton on the mound he was striking out Jose Altuve on a broken leg. I’m sure he’ll get a loud ovation from the home crowd on Friday night.
Joey Votto is 10-33 against Morton in his career, while Mike Moustakas is 2-6 with a home run off the veteran righty.
The Braves have no experience against the 25-year-old lefty Reiver Sanmartin. He pitched in two games last year and was 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in 11.2 innings with 11 strikeouts.
Over 6 minor league seasons, he has a 3.22 ERA, 1.207 WHIp, 1.8 BB/9, and 8.5 K/9.
Saturday — 7:20 pm ET — Vladimir Gutierrez vs. Kyle Wright
Can Kyle Wright get off to a good start and carry that momentum into a breakout season? That’s certainly the hope, and it will all start on Saturday.
He hasn’t faced any of the Reds hitters, so that should be positive. Hopefully, we get the Kyle Wright that was nearly flawless in the World Series and not the inconsistent version we’ve seen for most of his time in the big leagues.
Bat Dansby Swanson up in the order for this one as he was 4-5 against Gutierrez last year. Another young starter for the Reds — 26 years old — he actually made two starts against the Braves last year and was really good in both outings going 6 innings in each.
Sunday — 1:35 pm ET — Hunter Greene vs. Ian Anderson
Braves fandom aside, it will be really cool to see Hunter Greene’s big league debut on Sunday. Greene is a top prospect in the guy who regularly hits 100-plus with the fastball.
Atlanta hitters will need to be patient and make the rookie work in his debut to locate that big fastball.
As for Ian Anderon, he’s kind of stumbling into the season after getting roughed up in the last two Spring outings and leaving his last game early with a blister on his great toe.
We’ll see how long he’s able to go in this one, but he’s had success against the few Reds hitters he’s faced in the psat.
Braves Opening Series — Keys to Winning
The biggest key to winning this series for the Braves will be the bullpen. With the shortened Spring Training it would be surprising to see any starter last more than 5 innings, which will put a lot of stress on these bullpens.
That gives the Braves a huge advantage over the Reds in this series.
If the bats can be patient with some of these young pitchers and let them elevate that pitch count to get into a Reds bullpen that on paper isn’t very good, I see the Braves winning this series with relative ease.