Braves Preview: Atlanta going for sweep of Nationals, Shuster set for MLB debut
By Chris Turner
In what's becoming a regular occurrence, a top Atlanta Braves prospect has stormed through the minor leagues and is set to debut with the big league ball club.
Left-handed pitcher Jared Shuster will make his first major league start on Sunday for Atlanta against the Washington Nationals. The former first-round pick impressed during the Spring in five appearances, posting a 1.45 ERA in 18 innings.
Shuster takes the hill as the Braves are looking to open the 2023 season with a road sweep of a divisional foe. Atlanta dominated Washington on Saturday in the 7-1 win, behind a home run barrage from Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna, and Ronald Acuña Jr., and six scoreless innings from Spencer Strider in his 2023 debut.
Here's some things to watch for during the series finale:
MacKenzie Gore vs. Atlanta - Round 2
Left-hander MacKenzie Gore will make his regular season debut with Washington after 16 appearances with San Diego in 2022. He came over to the Nationals in the Juan Soto trade last season.
The 24-year old made his first major league appearance last year against Atlanta on April 15, throwing 5.1 innings, allowing two runs, and striking out three in a no decision.
Gore put together a modest Spring, with an ERA just north of 4.00 in 23.2 innings of work. He'll have his hands full with an even deeper Braves roster this year.
The bats are as healthy as they've ever been
The Braves pitching staff deserves a lot of credit these first two games for nearly lights-out performances, but the offense has been just as strong, if not stronger, to open the year.
Atlanta has 14 runs on 23 hits in the two wins, and everyone is getting involved. It was Travis d'Arnaud with the three-hit performance in the opener on Thursday, followed by Orlando Arcia dropping in three hits of his own on Saturday.
It's two games against an outmatched opponent, but this deep Braves lineup is setting the stage for what could be an impressive offensive season.
Back on board the Catcher carousel?
After an 0 for 5 debut with his new team, Sean Murphy had the day off on Saturday with Travis d'Arnaud taking on catching duties. Obviously, the duo will split time behind the plate, but there's never been any indication from Brian Snitker on how the split would work.
Will Murphy slide back in behind the plate for Shuster's debut? Or could we see him make his first appearance at Designated Hitter for the Braves in the regular season?