Braves Preview: Atlanta going for series sweep against Twins

Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves continue to be the class of Major League Baseball as the first half winds to a close. A 19-4 record this month is the best in baseball, and is two wins away from tying a Braves franchise record for most wins in a single month.

The NL East leaders will go for a sweep of the AL Central frontrunners on Wednesday, hosting the Twins for the last game of a three-game set at Truist Park.

Even with some key pieces on the sidelines right now with injuries, Atlanta seems to have gotten better at every turn this season and shows no signs of slowing down heading into the All-Star break.

What to Watch for in Wednesday's Game

Allard's return to The Show

In a bit of a surprising move, the Braves opted to call up Kolby Allard to start the series finale against the Twins. The 25-year-old lefty has missed all of this season after suffering an oblique strain during Spring Training.

Allard made his return to Atlanta via trade last November after he was traded away in the summer of 2019 to Texas.

It's just a spot start for the former first-round draft pick, who will be making his first major league start since August of 2021. It would be a very nice surprise if Allard were able to give Atlanta five solid innings of work heading into the off day on Thursday and continue to provide some guaranteed depth for a rotation that's still missing two of its top arms.

Money Mike making moves

After starting 2023 incredibly slow, and missing some time due to injury, Michael Harris II is on a tear in June and making a case to move back up the lineup card for the Braves.

He's hitting .368 this month and has an OPS over 1.000 as the month winds to a close, with five of his seven home runs in 2023 coming over the last 23 games.

Harris has a hit in 13 of his last 15 games and will make the NL Player of the Month decision just a little harder here in the next couple of days.

Maeda fresh off the IL

The Twins bring one of the best pitching staffs into Truist this week and have had two of their best pitchers already take losses during this series.

After dealing with Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan, Atlanta now faces Kenta Maeda on Wednesday. The 35-year-old right-handed has a ballooned-ERA above 6.00 after giving up 10 earned runs in a start back in late April, a start that sent him to the injured list for nearly two months with a tricep strain.

Maeda made his return from the IL last week, pitching five shutout innings against the Tigers and striking out eight batters for his first win of 2023. The refreshed veteran will get a step up in competition with this Braves offense, and try to salvage the series for the Twins.

Twins (40-41) at Braves (52-27)

When: 12:20 p.m. ET
Where: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
How to Watch: BSSO
How to Listen: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan