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Braves Notes: New look lineup producing good results

Also, thoughts on the bullpen and Dansby Swanson showing signs of life.

Atlanta Braves v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves extended their winning streak to three-straight games Tuesday night with a 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. They slugged three more home runs and an offense that was dormant over the first two games of their road trip, has suddenly come to life.

For the second straight game Tuesday night, the Braves deployed a new look lineup featuring Jorge Soler in the leadoff spot with Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies penciled in behind him. During that span the group is 10-for-28 and has set the table for the rest of the lineup.

Following Tuesday’s win, Brian Snitker said that he felt that the lineup changes would better maximize Ozzie Albies who had struggled in the leadoff spot. Albies rewarded that thinking with a long two-run home run in the third inning to give the Braves a 4-0 lead.

The season-ending injury to Ronald Acuña Jr. left the Braves without a prototypical leadoff hitter. While Soler may look like an odd fit for the top of the order to some, his .352 OBP is third best on the team since July 31. He has an walk-rate of 11.1% in 198 plate appearances since joining Atlanta.

“That’s the thing about Soler that’s been so impressive is that he’ll take a walk,” Snitker said of the new look to the lineup. “He doesn’t come out of the strike zone a lot and he has had some really good at-bats. I’m looking at it and it’s not a small sample size anymore, he’s been doing that since he got here.”

Getting Freeman back into the second spot of the order is also a big win. He has gone 5-for-9 with four runs scored over the first two games against the Diamondbacks.

The Braves went with a bullpen game Tuesday night and it was effective. Snitker praised the performances of Jesse Chavez, Drew Smyly and Jacob Webb following the game. Webb’s performance in particular is noteworthy. After some early season struggles, he has put together a solid stretch. Webb has allowed just five hits and an unearned run over his last 15 1/3 innings. He has struck out 13 and walked just five over that span.

“Jacob Webb has been pitching big innings for us for a while now. He’s just been really solid,” Snitker said of Webb and the bullpen’s performance. “It was good because they helped bridge the game to the guys that we wanted to get the game to.”

Smyly allowed four hits and one run over 3 1/3 innings. Per Baseball Savant, his four-seamer averaged 91.5 mph which is up slightly from his last start which came on August 30. The fifth starter spot will come up again on Sunday in San Diego.

Dansby Swanson had two hits in Tuesday’s win. One was to right center and the last one was up the middle so maybe that is a sign that he is coming out of it.

“It was really good to see,” Snitker said of Swanson. “He’s hit a few balls hard with nothing to show for them, but it was really good to see him get something for his efforts tonight. He squared those balls up.”

Even with those two hits, Swanson is hitting .136/.221/.203 in September. His BABIP over that stretch is just .184 so him squaring up a couple of balls and driving them to the opposite field is encouraging.

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