3 takeaways from the Braves' short but exciting sweep of the Red Sox

A little get-back-on-track series is always nice, and that's exactly what the Bravos' series with Boston was, as they showed out against the Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox v Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Everyone thank the Red Sox for trading Chris Sale to Atlanta

The revenge game has become one of the more overused sports cliches in recent memory but that's a good way to sum up what Chris Sale did to his poor former team on Wednesday night.

The wily lefty threw six innings of six-hit shutout ball, fanning 10 over those frames in the most dominant outing of what has been a fantastic start to the season from the former Red Sox southpaw.

It's the most strikeouts he's had in a game as a Brave and it moves him to 5-1 on the season. His outing seven days before against the Mariners produced nine punchouts and throughout his six starts in Atlanta, he has failed to notch less than six strikeouts.

His stats for the season currently sit at a 2.95 ERA over 42.2 innings with a 52-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 52 strikeouts are tied for 12th in the MLB this season. The strikeout-to-walk ratio is 13th in the MLB.

The advanced metrics love him too, as his strikeout rate of 30.6% is the highest it has been since 2019 when he struck out batters 35.6% of the time. And though his strikeout numbers aren't quite as high as peak Sale, his exit velocity is the lowest it has ever been at 84.6 miles per hour, down from 87.9 in 2023. Last year, teams barreled him at a rate of 8.4% but this year it's down to 4.6%.

So, even though it's not quite time to start beating the Cy Young drum for Sale yet, a first All-Star game appearance since 2018 is well within reach right now, and that far exceeds expectations Braves fans had for him coming in.

He was expected to be a third starter for a deep and talented pitching staff that hoped they could get the best stuff out of him come October. However, with Strider being down to the season, Sale has now had to fill bigger shoes than he was asked to fill originally, and he's done that and then some to start the year.

Marcell Ozuna is heating up again

Marcell Ozuna went through a bit of a slump starting in the series finale against Cleveland on April 29, mustering just one hit over his next 21 at-bats following a two-hit performance against the Guardians the night prior.

But after a two-hit day in the series finale against the Dodgers, a 1-for-3 night against Boston on Tuesday, and then of course his mammoth showing in a 2-for-3, two-homer performance against Boston on Wednesday, driving in four of the team's five runs, the Big Bear has promptly announced himself as back, at least for the time being.

He went oppo for a three-run home run to give the Braves a 4-0 lead against Boston on Wednesday and then took one out to the deepest part of the part in center field for his second home run to lift his squad to a 5-0 win.

He is once again the MLB home run leader with 12 homers, three of those coming in his last three games. He also leads the MLB in some advanced stats, with a .469 xwOBA while his average exit velocity of 93.2 is the highest of his career thus far and is in the 96th percentile amongst MLB players.

And even with his slump starting against Cleveland he still has a .315 batting average, a 1.042 OPS, and leads MLB with 38 RBI.

Jarred Kelenic shines in multiple facets

Aside from his two-run bomb in game one of the series, his first as a Brave, Kelenic also flashed the leather in game two, bringing back a home run to the immense pleasure of Sale, who preserved his six shutout innings and brought his ERA below three on the season.

Kelenic was having a good but not great year, with his power seemingly non-existent at just four doubles and no round-trippers coming in but, hopefully, the home run on Wednesday can jump-start things in the right direction for the former Mariners top prospect.

His OPS sits at .714 from the season while his batting average is just under .300 at .286. His on-base percentage is great at .337. His slugging is not great at .337.

His advanced metrics, because of the lack of power, don't love the season he's having thus far, with his average exit velocity and barrel percentage both dropping from a season ago along with his xwOBA.

No matter what Kelenic does though with the power numbers, if he can consistently get on base at the bottom of the lineup in front of some of the Braves' big hitters at the top, as well as flash the leather as he did against Boston, he'll already be an upgrade from the likes of Eddie Rosario, who has had a horrible start to his 2024 in Washington.

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