Welcome back to the dead rubber portion of the 2019 regular season for the Atlanta Braves, where they are going to be facing the Kansas City Royals for one last time this season. The Braves are going to have to win tonight’s game to avoid being the only team on Kansas City’s schedule that failed to beat the Royals even once.
With that being said, the Braves probably aren’t too concerned about their potentially ignominious record against Kansas City since they are clearly in playoff preparation mode. Ronald Acuña Jr. is currently listed as day-to-day with a hip ailment, but it appears that this is being done purely as a precautionary measure. This will probably end his pursuit of the historic 40/40 season, but I’m sure that both Acuña and the Braves will take a historic October over any historic achievements in the regular season.
Speaking of October, the Braves are already shuffling their rotation in order to prepare for the NLDS. Mike Soroka was originally scheduled to be starting tonight, but they’ve moved him to Sunday so that he can very likely be the starter for Game 3 of the NLDS. So instead of seeing Soroka, the Braves will be sending Josh Tomlin to begin the game on the mound. Funnily enough, we’re nearly one year to the day since the last start that Tomlin made. He started for Cleveland on September 27, 2018 against — you guessed it — the Kansas City Royals. In that outing, he went 4.2 innings and only gave up a run.
Tomlin’s done at least four innings of relief work on three occasions this season and he even threw five innings back in August against the Mets. So if there was anybody on the pitching staff who could come in and do a spot start in the scenario that the Braves currently find themselves in, it would be MIke Tomlin. The more innings he can eat tonight, the better.
On the other side of things, the Braves will be facing Mike Montgomery as the opposing pitcher. It’s been a season to forget for Montgomery, as he had a dreadful time in Chicago and has only improved a little bit since coming to Kansas City. He has a 4.70 ERA and 5.38 FIP as a Royals pitcher, which is actually a big improvement over what those numbers were by the time he was done pitching for the Cubs.
Whether or not Montgomery goes out there and twirls a gem against the Braves really depends on what type of lineup the Braves post on the whiteboard tonight. If Brian Snitker decides to post another rest lineup, then it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see the Royals do what they did last night and limit the Braves. I think that we’ll probably indeed see a weaker lineup tonight, so maybe this will embolden Montgomery and the Royals to compete a little harder tonight.
Kansas City has played the Braves tough through these four games, and a season sweep of the NL East champions would be a nice feather in their cap and also a tiny glimmer of hope for their burgeoning rebuild. You guys remember when the Braves were in the position where getting wins late in the season could have been considered a building block for the next rebuilding season? Do y’all remember when the Royals won the World Series not even five years ago? Time is a flat circle, and that’s especially true with baseball.