It’s been a long, strange at times, and ultimately [insert adjective here] season, and it’s almost over. The Braves will play their final series of the season at Marlins Park in Miami, and after these four games, that’s it. No more Braves baseball, not until next year. Sigh.
But, the Braves will need to survive these four games, by hook or by crook, first, relatively meaningless though they may be. The Braves trail the Marlins by three games for second place in the division. If the Braves win at least one of the next four, they’ll fall in the most commonly-predicted range for their preseason wins (72-76 wins). They can’t achieve the top end of that range (and my own personal prediction), but a sweep still puts 75 wins in reach. Or, if they get swept, they’ll end with just 71 wins. The Braves currently have the eighth-worst record in MLB, and they could end up with anywhere between the sixth-worst and the 13th-worst record, depending on how things shake out in the final days of play. (At least according to my quick math.)
In his last start of 2017, Julio Teheran will try to put arguably the worst season of his major league career behind him. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all career highs (4.39, 4.92, 4.92), and he will likely fall short of 200 innings for the second straight year (though not by much). For what it’s worth, though, the run environment has inflated enough that a pretty good start by Teheran will give him more fWAR this year than he accumulated in 2015; he’s already eclipsed his 2015 RA9-WAR total by 0.2 wins.
Teheran is coming off three straight good starts, having allowed just a total of four runs (three earned) across them. Critically, he hasn’t been taken deep in any of those outings. He’s been much better in the second half (4.17 FIP, 4.47 xFIP) compared to the first half (5.50 FIP, 5.26 xFIP), and hasn’t had a major blowup since late July.
The Marlins will counter with Dillon Peters, who will be making his sixth career start. A tenth round draft pick in 2014, Peters started the year in AA and had nine good starts there, putting up a 1.97 / 2.57 / 3.33 triple slash. He’s had a learning experience in the majors, with a 4.87 FIP and 4.46 xFIP, though an inflated ERA of 6.31 due to the usual combination of a sky-high BABIP-against (.365) and a low strand rate. Peters started his big league career with seven shutout innings against the Phillies, and then kept it rolling with two more decent starts (five innings, three runs against Washington; six innings, two runs in Philadelphia). But, his last two starts have been awful: an eight-run shelling in which he didn’t escape the fourth by the Brewers, and then a five-run, two-homer game in which he lasted only four innings in Arizona.
Still, as a weird fact, Peters has pretty much the same FIP- as Teheran at this point (116 vs. 115), and a better xFIP- (103 vs. 114).
Weirdly, Teheran has missed the Marlins in every series the Braves have played but one, so he only has six shutout innings against them under his belt, in what was probably one of his five best starts of the year. (Especially since it came during his very rough stretch of early-season starts where he was getting demolished as often as not.)
Adding intrigue to this series is Giancarlo Stanton’s chase for the 60-homer plateau. A big series from Stanton could also put him in front of the always-amusing-but-inconsequential fWAR race for the National League: he currently trails Kris Bryant, Anthony Rendon, and Joey Votto, each at 6.7 fWAR by 0.3 wins. (He’s unlikely to catch Votto in the race for best NL hitter, though, as Votto’s batting line is simply too insane at present.)
Atlanta Braves @ Miami Marlins
Marlins Park, Miami, FL
Thursday, September 28, 7:10 pm ET
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM, Braves Radio Network