Braves Preview: Atlanta puts winning streak on the line against second-place Marlins

The Atlanta Braves have been in contol of the NL East lead for most of the season and many expected New York and Philadelphia to compete for the division lead. However, Miami had something to say about that and find themselves competing for a division title.
Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

As some of us expected, the Atlanta Braves' well-rounded, powerful offense has pushed them to the front of the NL East as we approach the All-Star break and the end of the first half of the 2023 season.

What we didn't expect was for the team to be the closest to them in the standings to be the Miami Marlins.

First-year manager Skip Schumaker has led the club to a 48-34 record so far, the most wins for Miami in the first half since the 2016 team was 47-41 at the break. They last won 50 games in the first half back in 2008.

With an MVP candidate second baseman and one of the most well-rounded pitching staffs in baseball, the Marlins have become an NL dark horse and a potential thorn in the Braves side down the stretch.

What to Watch for in Friday's game

Mr. Near-.400

Luis Arráez's name would already be engraved on the NL MVP trophy if Ronald Acuña Jr. didn't exist.

The starting second baseman for the NL All-Star has put up insane numbers at the plate in the first half of the season. He's hitting .392 and has already put up 3.5 WAR in 2023. This month alone, he's put together three five-hit outings, tying him with Ty Cobb, George Sisler, and Dave Winfield for most five-hit games in a single month.

He's on the verge of accomplishing something that's never been done in the history of major league baseball: winning back-to-back batting titles in different leagues. There's still a lot of baseball left to be played, but this is one of the best hitters Atlanta will have faced so far in 2023.

Soroka's Home

In an expected move, the Braves recalled Michael Soroka to the big league club and are sending him to the hill tonight against Miami. It'll be the first start at Truist Park for Soroka since he tore his Achilles in August of 2020 against the Mets.

Soroka struggled in his first two major league starts of 2023, but has put together a solid string of pitching since returning to Triple-A Gwinnett in early June.

His return comes against a Miami offense, outside of Arraez and a few other pieces, is below average, and doesn't score a lot of runs. Soroka being able to give the Braves six strong innings, and carving out a more permanent spot in the rotation would go a long way in Atlanta's run toward a sixth straight division crown.

Olson's HR barrage

Matt Olson is applying a simple rule to his 2023 season: ignore average, draw walks, hit tanks.

The Braves' first baseman is hitting .237 as we close the first half of the season, but thanks in part to his ability to get on base and 26 home runs, his OPS is at .888.

Olson has hit six home runs over the last eight games, and faces a strong test with a Marlins pitching staff that is top five in least home runs allowed this year.

Marlins (48-34) at Braves (53-27)

When: 7:20 p.m. ET
Where: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
How to Watch: BSSO
How to Listen: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan