Braves vs White Sox Preview
After one of the best first halves in the franchise history, the NL-leading Atlanta Braves return to the field after the All-Star break to continue their march to a sixth-straight NL East title.
They're hosting three games of interleague play starting on Friday night with the Chicago White Sox in Atlanta, the first time these teams will face off since late 2019.
Here are three things to watch for in Friday's game as the Braves return to action:
The Home Run barrage
The one defining part of Atlanta's success in 2023 has been the ability to just hit the ball hard, and far.
The Braves have hit 169 home runs halfway through the year, and have hit one in their last 26 games, unsurprisingly, a franchise record.
They square off against a White Sox team with a struggling pitching staff that ranks near the bottom of baseball in several different categories. That includes home runs allowed, where they're in the bottom three with 125 allowed so far.
Somehow, the safer bet is Atlanta will hit one over the fence to extend its streak, but there's always the chance of a post-All-Star break letdown.
While the Braves ended the first half strong, the White Sox did anything but. Chicago stumbled into the break by losing seven of their last ten games. Three of those losses came in extra innings.
The only time they were above .500 this year was after opening the year with a win over Houston to open the season 1-0.
There are pieces of this White Sox team that are good, especially Luis Robert Jr. The All-Star outfielder has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games and is hitting almost .300 over his last 61 games. He put on a show in the Home Run Derby in Seattle after eliminating Adley Rutschman in a thrilling first-round matchup.
Chicago's lineup isn't loaded by any stretch, but Robert stands out as the prime weapon in a lineup with a handful of decent offensive pieces.
A new streak
Sean Murphy is currently on an eight-game hitting streak, hitting .448 with an OPS of over 1.000 in that stretch, and five home runs.
Murphy has continued to elevate his play to an MVP level alongside the rest of this dangerous Braves lineup, and while he's the latest to go on a tear at the plate, he certainly won't be the last.