After dropping two consecutive games due to the bullpen making plenty of mistakes late in the game, the Braves are now in a position where they will have to win an early matinee game in order to avoid a sweep at the hand of the visiting Diamondbacks.
The good news is that this should be an exciting day everybody who will actually get to watch the game, as Mike Soroka will be making his return to the big leagues for the first time since June of last season. That was when a shoulder ailment ended his season and that was also before a different shoulder ailment threw him off track during spring training. The good news is that Soroka is healthy now and hopefully he will continue to show the flashes of brilliance that he had on display during his brief time in the bigs in 2018.
I’m not going to demand that Mike Soroka throw another 6.1 innings with only one hit allowed like he did last year in what turned out to be his final home outing of the season, but it would be lovely to see him at least make it to the sixth inning or even the seventh. Really, it’s on every Braves starter to make sure that they can get as far into the game as possible, since the bullpen has gone into another moment of unreliability. This game could be yet another case of the real game starting only when the relief pitchers get involved.
On the other side of things, the Diamondbacks will be sending Luke Weaver to the mound for his fourth start of the season. He’s coming off of a pretty good start against the Padres where he racked up eight strikeouts and didn’t walk anybody. Unfortunately, the two runs he gave up ended up being decisive as Arizona lost that game 2-1. Weaver has gotten progressively better with each start that he’s made this season and surely the Diamondbacks will be hoping that this is a trend that continues.
Arizona will also be hoping that they can continue to keep Atlanta’s bats at bay. Their pitching staff has only had one inning really get away from them, and that was when they gave up four runs in the bottom of the fifth on Tuesday. Other than that, the Braves offense has had to fight and claw for each run that they’ve gotten, which is a tiny bit underwhelming since you would expect them to mash a bit more than what we’ve seen in this series through the first two games.
Fortunately, the Braves offense knows what to do against Luke Weaver. Back in late June of last season, Weaver came to town as a member of the Cardinals and the Braves absolutely rocked him for 10 hits and eight runs. That included homers from Ronald Acuña Jr. and Nick Markakis. Most of that lineup from that game will be back for today’s game, so here’s hoping for a repeat performance of what happened last season.
This game already has a sense of intrigue surrounding it with the season debut of Mike Soroka. There will also be some intensity as the Braves will be playing to avoid a sweep. The bullpen should also be fired up to put in a good performance for a change. Hopefully we’ll see some big positives from today’s game and the Braves can avoid hopping on the plane to Cleveland following a trip to the dustpan via the brooms of Arizona.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, April 18, 12:10 p.m. ET
Location: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network