What has gotten into this Braves team? Atlanta begins play on Friday having won 10 of their last 11, averaging six runs per game over that span. It’s certainly exciting to see the strides they have made down the stretch, and the season’s final series will give us a chance to see them take on a team battling for a playoff spot.
The pitching matchup tonight will feature Braves right-hander Matt Wisler, who will take the mound for the final time in 2016 hoping to make a good impression heading into the offseason. The 24-year old currently sits at 7-12 on the season with a 4.86 ERA in 152 innings. Wisler pitched well in his last start, allowing two runs in six innings while striking out five in a no-decision, and will need to be sharp tonight as he takes on a veteran Tigers lineup that can do damage in a hurry.
Detroit will send left-hander Daniel Norris to the mound, desperately needing a strong outing to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Tigers enter play 1.5 games behind both Baltimore and Toronto, who are tied atop the Wild Card standings. Detroit is 7-3 in their last 10 games, lead by the ever-dangerous Miguel Cabrera, who enters play with 36 home runs, 105 RBIs, and a .312/.392/.555 batting line. Cabrera, along with Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, Justin Upton, and J.D. Martinez give the Tigers a lethal lineup that could expose Wisler’s propensity for allowing home runs if he is unable to locate his pitches. Seeing the young righty square off against such a deep lineup should be a good indication of the progress he has seemingly made of late.
As mentioned above, the Braves have been red-hot down the stretch and have made huge strides offensively. Freddie Freeman saw his 30-game hitting streak snapped on Thursday night, but he has been incredible of late and has entered the MVP conversation despite early-season struggles for both he and the team. Matt Kemp has continued to hit well, providing the power the Braves so desperately needed in April and May, and the lineup as a whole is rounding into form. The new-look Atlanta lineup will face off against two tough right-handers in this series, with Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Verlander scheduled to pitch on Saturday and Sunday, so it should be fun weekend at Turner Field despite the nostalgia that I’m sure every Braves fan in attendance will be feeling as the team closes the book on it’s home since 1997.