Boy, those Braves, am I right? After not letting a first-inning Ryan Howard grand slam, multiple rain delays, a poor Julio Teheran start, and the absence of Matt Kemp in the lineup deter them from racking up yet another win, the Braves sit with a 14-9 record in September. Given that they have five games left, they’ve assured themselves a .500 month for the first time all season, and seem fairly likely to rack up a winning month as the season winds down.
So, anyway, the Braves have 64 wins. They’ll end with 64-69 wins. If you look at Talking Chop’s preseason predictions, you get the following win estimates from folks that picked a specific number: 77, 79, 71, and 71 (from myself). So... not quite, though the 71 is not that far off the mark. There’s still plenty of intrigue left in the season, and not just in terms of how many draft spots the Braves will regress based on their second-half hot streak.
Mike Foltynewicz will be returning to the mound for what’s likely his last rotation turn of the season. Folty missed a couple of starts after a Marcell Ozuna liner hit him in the leg. Folty continues to show some beguiling inconsistency, commensurate with his stuff and youth, and perhaps his demeanor as well. In that start where he was knocked out, he had allowed five runs before departing; he had allowed just five totals runs in the three starts before that. Since the start of July, his runs allowed totals are slightly whiplash-inducing: 5, 0, 3, 3, 7, 5, 1, 4, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1, 5.
Overall, though, he’s showed some good progress this season. His 4.41 ERA / 4.29 FIP / 4.15 xFIP aren’t hyper-exciting, but league-average FIP for an NL starter is 4.19 so far this season, so he’s basically a generic mid-rotation starter on a generic team based on his performance, and he presumably has room to grow.
Folty has only faced the Phillies once this year, where he got tagged for four homers and five runs in Philadelphia. Cody Asche, Peter Bourjos, Maikel Franco, and Tommy Joseph all took him deep and the Braves lost 5-1.
The Phillies will do battle with Adam Morgan leading the charge. Morgan has not had a good sophomore season at all: his 5.57 ERA is ugly, and his 4.93 FIP is nicer but not overly so, even though he has had to pitch at the launching pad that is Citizens Bank Park. At least his 4.37 xFIP should give the Phillies some hope for the future. In his favor, he has pitched better of late, having a 2.89 / 3.00 / 3.63 line over his last six starts.
Morgan bedeviled the Braves earlier this season, both times in May. The first time, he pitched seven innings of one-run ball in Atlanta, beating the Braves in a 3-2 game. The second time, two weeks later, he allowed just two runs in six innings, but Williams Perez and the bullpen inexplicably shut out his offense en route to saddling him with a 2-0 defeat.
Ryan Howard will likely be back in there to torment the Braves (I proposed that last night’s recap be called “Howard’s End” before the Braves battled back to win it). His homer yesterday was his 52nd against the team, and he somehow has managed to still be dangerous against the Braves while being essentially useless against seemingly every other opponent.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 7:10 pm ET
Turner Field, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network, 680 AM / 93.7 FM