The Atlanta Braves surely didn't envision they'd be hoping to avoid a series sweep in their final game with the Marlins this weekend.
Saturday's game was trending in the right direction for Atlanta but an extremely rough outing for the Jared Shuster and the Braes bullpen led to an 11-5 loss to Miami. Call it a "hangover" from clinching the division earlier this week in Philly or an indication of a larger problem that needs to be addressed.
Atlanta has some things to figure out as it pertains to the postseason roster and these final weeks of the season will be used to evaluate who makes it and who doesn't.
Last night did have a couple of memorable moments thanks to Matt Olson hitting his franchise-best, 52nd home run of the season breaking Andruw Jones' record. It's been a ridiculously incredible season for Olson.
Ozzie Albies hit a homer earlier in the game which gave him 30 on the season. That means the Braves now have 5 players with 30+ home runs this season. This matches an MLB record set by the 2019 Twins who also achieved that feat.
Charlie Morton will look to get things back on track for the Braves pitching staff as he toes the rubber for the series finale. Uncle Charlie has had a few rough spots this season but overall, he's been one of Atlanta's best starters in 2023.
He currently has a 14-11 record with a 3.42 ERA through 157.2 innings. Morton has 177 strikeouts during that time as well as a 10.10 K/9 rate. However, he's struggled a little bit with walking batters as his BB/9 rate sits at 4.43 on the season.
Morton's most recent start came against the Phillies and he completed 6 innings for the Braves. He allowed 4 runs on 6 hits with 4 walks and 9 strikeouts. Morton received a no-decision for the game as the Braves and Phillies fought back and forth all game for the lead. It ultimately took extra innings to decide a winner and the Braves came out on top after scoring two runs in the 10th inning.
The odds are in favor of Charlie on Sunday as his ERA sits at 0.71 in 2023 through 12.2 innings against Miami. The Marlins have just 1 run on 7 hits through that time and have walked 3 times while whiffing 14 times. Hopefully, that trend continues for Morton and the Braves and they break this brief losing streak.
Miami will send Jesus Luzardo to the mound as he faces a potent Braves offense that may or may not feature Ronald Acuna Jr. Acuna missed yesterday's game due to calf tightness. As of writing this, there has been no update on if he will miss Sunday.
UPDATE: Ronald Acuna Jr. is out of the Braves lineup for a second straight game.
Regardless, Luzardo will have his work cut out for him facing this lineup. His ERA on the season sits at 3.82 through 160.1 innings pitched. The Brewers roughed him up during his last outing as they scored 6 runs on 10 hits through 5 innings. Luzardo walked 4 batters while striking out just 5 in that time frame.
The lefty faced the Braves back in May and completed 5.2 innings allowing 4 runs on 7 hits with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. Atlanta went on to win that game by a 6-3 final. Hopefully, Atlanta's offense will have similar success this time around.
The series finale kicks off at 1:40 PM EST from Miami and can be seen on Bally Sports Southeast.
Where and when: loanDepot Park in Miami, FL at 1:40 PM EST
Watch: Bally Sports Southeast
Listen: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan