The Braves are looking to bounce back tonight after somehow managing to get blown out by the Cincinnati Reds (who were already 15 games under .500 going into this series, mind you). Cincinnati clearly proved that they should still be taken seriously — or if anything, you can’t hand out walks on a regular basis and expect to win, even if the opponents currently hold the worst record in MLB right now.
For what it’s worth, the Braves were doing fine in the early portion of the game, which means that it will be imperative that the Braves get another solid start from Brandon McCarthy this evening. While he hasn’t reached the dizzying heights of the seventh inning like Julio Teheran and Matt Wisler (!) have done so far this year, McCarthy has consistently made it into the sixth inning and would have a 100 percent record in that regard if not for a freak injury against the Nationals knocking him out in the fifth inning. Other than that, McCarthy has been a consistent rock in the Braves rotation for this first month and the Braves will need him to keep up the consistency once again.
When it comes to past experiences, there isn’t much to draw on for either McCarthy or Tyler Mahle, the Reds’ starting pitcher for this evening. McCarthy has faced off against Billy Hamilton only six times and that’s the most that he’s seen any of the current Reds. Scooter Gennett has a home run off of McCarthy in three plate appearances. If McCarthy could keep Joey Votto’s batting average at .000 against him (after a grand total of two plate appearances) then that could go a long way towards the Braves getting into the win column in this series.
While the Braves have yet to face off against Tyler Mahle, they should feel confident in going after him on the attack at the plate. Mahle had a good start against the Cubs back in the early stages of April but it’s been a rough go for him on the mound ever since. Over 15 IP in his last three starts, Mahle has given up 12 earned runs and five home runs over that span. This may seem like overly simplistic analysis, but combine those numbers with the bandbox that is the Great American Ball Park and it sure seems like if the Braves can put the ball into the air tonight, then good things will happen for them.
Again, I don’t think that the Braves should have any problem in the early stages of this game. It’s the latter stages where the bullpen and bullpen management get involved where things should get interesting. If the Braves can safely navigate that minefield wit the lead intact, then this should be a good evening for our boys. If not, then this may be another night of frustration against a team that the Braves really should be beating.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, April 24, 6:40 p.m. ET
Location: Great American Ball Park
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM, WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network