Things seemed very much the same a week ago.
The Braves, despite all the struggles of their bullpen, seemed to have righted the ship quickly and effectively thanks to an offensive outburst in Cleveland. An epic comeback last Saturday followed by a display of Donaldson dominance last Sunday had Atlanta heading back home happy and confident. However, the story did not take a turn for the better. A stagnant offense combined with the same disastrous bullpen has resulted in a 2-4 start to the home stand thus far.
The Braves were viewed has a team with the potential for a “high level of variance” coming into the season. Simply put, they could shift between looking like one of the best and worst teams in baseball at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, while there were struggles during the week, the offense came back to life in dramatic fashion with an 8-7 come from behind victory against Colorado on Sunday. Just like last week, Donaldson led the charge, and the Braves have a bit of confidence as they welcome the Padres to Suntrust Park Monday night.
Another reason for confidence comes in the form of Mike Soroka, who will be toeing the rubber for the series opener. After overcoming an off-season and spring of concern regarding his shoulder. Soroka has been a stabilizer in his two starts in 2019. 64% of his 194 pitches have been for strikes, and of the 49 batters he has faced, 32 have either struck out or a hit a ground ball. These are the exact results many have expected from Soroka over the past few years, and it has resulted in a 1.69 ERA, 2.67 FIP, and 3.02 XFIP in his two starts.
Atlanta will need another strong performance from Soroka tonight as the Padres send Nick Margevicius to the bump. Margevicius has been a welcome surprise through five starts this season, as he is slashing a 3.60 ERA/ 3.90 FIP/ 4.27 XFIP on the season. He started the season with three straight starts of giving up only 1 run in 5 or more innings. However, in his previous two starts, he gave up 5 runs in 4 innings to Colorado and walked 5 in 5 innings against the Mariners.
The Braves may have a few avenues to find success against Margevicius. Obviously, the five walks he gave up in his previous outing works into the Braves favor with their patience at the plate. However, Margevicius has thrown strikes 64% of his time, so he will find the plate. He does sport a 0.82 GB/FB ratio, and has surrendered a home run in 3 of his 5 starts. Though Margevicius has a pretty radical reverse platoon split measure early in his young career (.607 OPS allowed vs. righties, .885 vs. lefties), the Braves success against southpaws could easily be the difference tonight.
Along with the plethora of young pitching, this will be many Braves’ fans first chance to see the young offensive nucleus in San Diego. Beyond prized addition Manny Machado, Hunter Renfroe is beginning to deliver on his immense promise. Hopefully, an injury Sunday will not prevent Braves fans from seeing Fernando Tatis Jr. in action. A year after Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto took the baseball world by storm with their amazing debuts, Tatis Jr. is making a similar impact early on in 2019. His .300/.360/.550 line certainly has made him an early favorite for NL Rookie of the year.
WPA- Ronald Acuna Jr.- THE MAN IS DUE. It has now been 11 game since his last home run. He has gone more than 10 games without a home run only one other time since he has been in the majors. Facing a lefty with flyball tendencies, tonight seems like an ideal time to end the streak. Heck, maybe he will add one or two more for good measure.
San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves
Monday, April 29, 2019
7:20 p.m. EDT
SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports South, MLB.tv
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
XM Radio: SXM 186 (Streaming 841).