The Atlanta Braves hit the road again for the final time this regular season with a five-game trip that will take them to Kansas City and New York. Atlanta is coming off of a 3-3 homestand but has already clinched their second straight NL East division title. Over the next seven days, the Braves will be trying to manage rest for its regulars while also setting the rotation for the postseason.
The Braves’ biggest concern at this point is the health of Freddie Freeman who did not travel with the team to Kansas City because of soreness in his elbow. Freeman is dealing with a bone spur that is causing him pain. Atlanta is hoping that four straight days of rest and treatment will allow him to be healthy for October. Freeman is expected to rejoin the team and play in this weekend’s series against the Mets.
Kansas City comes into the series with a 57-100 record and sits in fourth place in the AL Central. They have lost eight of ten, including two of three in Minnesota this past weekend. Of course it is worth mentioning that the Braves will be looking for some measure of revenge after the Royals came to SunTrust Park back in July and swept a two-game series. The Royals are the only team that the Braves have played and failed to defeat this season, and one of just five teams (Diamondbacks, Reds, Dodgers, Phillies) that the Braves have a losing record against this year.
Tuesday, September 24, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox Sports Southeast)
Julio Teheran (2019: 32 GS, 172.1 IP, 21.8 K%, 11.1 BB%, 3.55 ERA, 4.65 FIP, 5.20 xFIP, 79 ERA-, 106 FIP-)
Julio Teheran will get the start in Tuesday’s series opener and needs a good start to keep his postseason rotation hopes alive. Teheran has struggled a bit of late allowing eight earned runs in just nine innings over his last two starts. It was the first time he had poor back-to-back starts since he was obliterated in three outings to close out June. Teheran has exceeded expectations in 2019 overall, but has done so with an elevated walk rate which gives him a slim margin for error. His success depends in large part on limiting the longball, and Tuesday’s outing could be a favorable one for him as Kauffman Stadium is one of the msot homer-suppressing parks in the majors. He faced the Royals back on July 24 and allowed four hits and two unearned runs over six innings.
Danny Duffy (2019: 22 GS, 125.2 IP, 20.7 K%, 8.3 BB%, 4.30 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 5.08 xFIP, 91 ERA-, 106 FIP-)
Kansas City will counter with left-hander Danny Duffy in Tuesday’s series opener. Duffy has outperformed his peripherals in 2019 and has put together his best month of the season in September. He allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings in his last start at Oakland. He has allowed a total of five earned runs and pitched at least six innings in all four of his starts in September. Duffy allowed five hits and one run over six innings back in July at SunTrust Park.
Wednesday, September 25, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox Sports Southeast)
Mike Soroka (2019: 28 GS, 169.2 IP, 19.9 K%, 5.7 BB%, 2.60 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 3.86 xFIP, 58 ERA-, 78 FIP-)
Mike Soroka will make his final start of the regular season on Wednesday and will likely be limited to just 65 to 70 pitches. Soroka has had a breakout season for the Braves and is in the mix to be their Game 1 starter in the NL Division Series. He allowed five hits and two runs over five innings in his last start against the Phillies. There’s an outside chance that this start could help Soroka claim the ERA title, but he trails by 0.19 with two NL pitchers (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jacob deGrom) ahead of him, so it doesn’t seem too likely at this point.
Mike Montgomery (2019: 32 G, 12 GS, 86.1 IP, 17.1 K%, 8.2 BB%, 5.00 ERA, 5.64 FIP, 4.54 xFIP, 109 ERA-, 126 FIP-)
Mike Montgomery began the season with the Cubs before a July trade landed him back with the Royals, who drafted him back in 2008. He has worked exclusively as a starter since returning to Kansas City posting a 4.70 ERA (5.38 FIP) in 59 1⁄3 innings.
He was hit hard and ejected in his last outing against the Twins where he allowed seven hits and five runs in just four innings. His tenure as a starter has been really inconsistent this year: he had a five-start stretch with four really good outings and one dud in mid-August, but has blown up twice in a row at this point.
Montgomery made three appearances against the Braves this season, all in relief, while a member of the Cubs, allowing seven hits and four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.