3 takeaways from the Braves' series loss to the Mariners

There were plenty of positives and negatives to the second series loss for the Braves in 2024. Hopefully, the final game is more indicative of what's to come ahead of a huge series in Los Angeles.

Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

If it wasn't clear that Max Fried is back to his usual self, it is now

Despite the cruel and unusual punishment that was the first game of this series, Braves fans had to be ecstatic about the outing that Max Fried put together against a Mariners lineup that, while aren't statistically great on offense, most people would still consider better than the Marlins.

It wasn't the efficient outing that Fried put together against the Marlins last week, as he only went six innings and threw exactly 100 pitches before being pulled in favor of Pierce Johnson, but those six innings were nothing short of masterful.

He gave up no hits, struck out seven and walked two, allowing just those two base runners over the six innings of work. It was clear that he had his A stuff on the night, as he consistently dotted the outside of the zone with his 75 mile per hour sweeping curveball, which kept the Mariners off balance, which in turn made his best pitch in his fastball that much more effective.

According to Baseball Savant, of the 18 outs he got, 10 came on his four-seamer and despite the high usage of the fastball, the hard-hit rate for the Mariners was just 18% over those six innings, seeing a max exit velocity of 75 miles per hour.

That means that because Fried was able to locate his breaking stuff, mainly his curveball so well, sitting on the fastball became harder and when they were able to recognize the fastball, most of the time it was in defense and all they were able to muster was weak contact.

Unfortunately, though, Mitch Garver had the hardest hit ball of the night, an absolute missile of a walk-off home run in the ninth, that made Fried's outing seem useless. But result aside, it is great to see a Cy Young-level Fried do his stuff again on the mound.

Nice to see the offense wake up on Wednesday

Going into the series finale trying to avoid a sweep, the Braves' offense the previous two days could only be described as non-existent through the first two games.

The first game didn't see either team get a hit until the seventh inning when Ronald Acuña Jr. singled softly up the middle on a ball that didn't get past the infield. He then did what Acuña does, stealing second and third before scoring on an Ozzie Albies double.

A Jarred Kelenic single is all that the Braves got in the next two innings, as Albies was the only hitter that showed any life in the first two games. He was 3-for-8 with two RBIs, the only two runs driven in during the first two games. The rest of the team combined to go 7-for-56 over the first two contests.

Now granted, there are some caveats to this. Bryce Miller, who completely shut down the Braves offense, save for the back-to-back hits given up to Acuña and Albies, is having a fantastic start to his sophomore season. As a rookie in 2023, he was 8-7 with a 4.32 ERA in 25 starts. In six starts this year, he is 3-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a more than double ERA+, up from 94 in 2023, to 180 so far this season.

Castillo on the other hand is having a down year for a guy that could have been considered a dark horse Cy Young candidate coming into the season after a 2023 where he posted a 3.34 ERA in 33 starts and 197 innings. This year through seven starts, he's 3-4 with a 3.46 ERA. Most Mariners faithful hoped he'd be better than he has this season, but it's still clear he's an elite pitcher when he's on. And he was on against the Braves on Wednesday.

This Mariners pitching staff is allowing the second least runs per game in the MLB at 3.29 so it's no shame to have a slump against a staff like that.

But it was nice to see the Braves bats, especially some that struggled heavily before this series, wake up in game three to avoid the sweep.

Acuna was 2-for-5 and scored twice. Austin Riley was 2-for-4 with a two-RBI double. Matt Olson was 1-for-3 with an RBI. These are all nice signs for an offense that needs to be on point for a massive series against the Dodgers starting on Friday.

The Mariners are serious contenders

Maybe it's the bitterness of the Braves losing their second series of the season still lingering around, but I really believe the Mariners can do something special by season's end.

Does that mean I'm predicting them to win the American League? No. Plenty of teams do special things but don't reach the World Series, that's just the nature of sports.

But a 17-14 start to the season and sitting in first place in the AL West entering the second month of the season isn't too shabby, especially considering they've averaged the fifth-least runs per game in baseball.

But they are behind teams like the Marlins, the Rockies, the Nationals, the Angels. And anyone who looks at this Mariners lineup can tell you being behind those teams won't last long.

If the bats for this Seattle squad can start to wake up behind a pitching staff that has sneakily been one of the best in baseball over the past two seasons, they have the potential to really make some noise in October.

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