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Braves head out on the road for a four-game series against the Padres

Atlanta will begin a seven-game West Coast trip Thursday in San Diego.

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves finished off their opening homestand Wednesday with a 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals. Atlanta split a four-game series with the Reds and then dropped two of three against Washington. Considering where both of those teams are and are expected to finish, that isn’t the best result, but the Braves are keeping everything in perspective and recognize that the regular season is a marathon and not a sprint.

“It’s fine. I kind of like what I’ve seen,” Brian Snitker said following Wednesday’s loss. “I think there’s a lot of positives. I can see us when we start hitting on all cylinders being really good. I saw a lot of positives.”

The team just completed what was dubbed Championship Week at Truist Park, full of on-field ceremonies and fan giveaways. While no one would ever admit that it was a distraction, some routines were possibly disrupted a bit. To the extent that happened, perhaps heading out on the road will allow the team and its players to settle in a bit. On the flip side, the Braves have mostly outplayed the other team in three of their four losses this season, while taking an “L” due to barreled balls not finding holes or the stands. There may not be too much wrong with the squad other than the things they can’t control anyway.

The Braves are in the middle of a stretch of 14 straight games to start the season. We have already seen their pitching staff get tested thanks to a couple of ineffective, and therefore short, starts by Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa. However, it is the offensive results that have been most inconsistent. The bats broke out in Tuesday’s 16-4 win where they piled up 19 hits. One day later they managed just three hits and a solo home run, though they added another 400-foot fly ball and a bunch of other hard contact. Overall, the Braves have hit the ball hard throughout the homestand and didn’t get a lot to show for it.

“I like our lineup a lot. It’s gonna get deep and it is deep,” Snitker said. “It’s very capable of being really good.”

While you can see the lineup’s potential, several key players had rough homestands. The sample size doesn’t warrant concern, but it is worth pointing out nonetheless. Eddie Rosario is just 1-for-20 at the plate and his defense in right has left a lot to be desired.

Dansby Swanson is just 4-for-25 and is leading the National League in strikeouts with 13. Alex Dickerson is 0-for-10 at the plate, but four of the seven balls he has put in play have had exit velocities of over 100 mph.

Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna are off to good starts at the plate, but other than Tuesday’s game, the Braves simply haven’t been able to string enough hits together, or get enough balls to clear the fence.

Wednesday’s game will be the Padres’ home opener. They have lost two straight but return home with a 4-3 record. As of the time of writing, both the Padres and the Braves have had above-average performances across the board (Braves are fifth in position player fWAR and seventh in pitching fWAR; Padres are 11th and ninth), though that’s little consolation to the Braves and their 3-4 record.

Thursday, April 14, 8:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Charlie Morton (2022: 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 26.3 K%, 5.3 BB%, 3.38 ERA, 1.74 FIP, 3.86 xFIP)

Charlie Morton will get the start for the Braves in the series opener on Thursday and will be looking to build off of a solid debut. Morton allowed two hits, two runs and struck out five over 5 1/3 innings in his first start against the Reds while showing no ill effects from the broken leg that he suffered in Game 1 of the World Series. Morton didn’t face the Padres during the 2021 season, but has a 2.09 ERA / 3.05 FIP / 3.49 xFIP in nine career starts against them.

Joe Musgrove (2022: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 36.4 K%, 0.0 BB%, 3.00 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 1.56 xFIP)

Joe Musgrove will get the call for the Padres in Thursday’s opener. Musgrove was sharp in his first start, allowing five hits and two runs while striking out eight against the Diamondbacks. Musgrove faced the Braves once last season and allowed seven hits and three runs over five innings. He walked three and finished the game with nine strikeouts.

Friday, April 15, 9:40 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Kyle Wright (2022: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 28.6 K%, 4.8 BB%, 0.00 ERA, 1.55 FIP, 2.96 xFIP)

Kyle Wright talked about the confidence he gained following two good appearances in the World Series and he looked the part in his first start of the 2022 season. Wright began the season in the rotation and was impressive, allowing just two hits while firing six scoreless frames against the Reds. Perhaps most impressive was that he allowed just one walk and was aggressive in attacking the strike zone.

TBD

The Padres have not announced a starter for Friday’s game yet, but there is a reasonable chance that it will be lefty prospect MacKenzie Gore, who would be making his major league debut. Gore is currently on the taxi squad with the Padres in San Francisco and could step in for Blake Snell who was scratched from his last start due to a left-adductor injury. If it is indeed Gore, then the Braves will face both him and Hunter Greene in a matter of days; Greene and Gore were taken second and third in the 2017 MLB draft, respectively.

Saturday, April 16, 4:05 p.m. ET (FS1, Bally Sports Southeast)

Ian Anderson (2022: 1 GS, 2.2 IP, 6.3 K%, 31.3 BB%, 16.88 ERA, 7.93 FIP, 9.52 xFIP)

The Braves will be looking for better results from Ian Anderson when he makes his second start on Saturday. Anderson allowed five runs and couldn’t escape the third inning in his season debut against Cincinnati. He allowed three hits and five walks and just wasn’t able to command his fastball. Watch his fastball location in this one: his fastball was higher than usual in his outing and it may have lessened the deception of his changeup, even though higher four-seam fastballs are generally considered “better.” Following the game, Anderson said that he was healthy and cited a lack of innings due to the shortened spring as part of the reason for his struggles. Saturday will be Anderson’s first career start against the Padres.

Nick Martinez (2022: 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 28.6 K%, 4.8 BB%, 1.80 ERA, 1.85 FIP, 3.83 xFIP)

Right-hander Nick Martinez will start opposite of Anderson in Saturday’s game for San Diego. Martinez agreed to a one-year deal with the Padres in March that also includes three player options. Martinez pitched in Japan last season and posted a 1.62 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 149 2/3 innings. He pitched well in his debut, where he allowed five hits, one run and struck out six in five innings against the Giants.

Sunday, April 17, 7:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Huascar Ynoa (2022: 1 GS, 3.0 IP, 22.2 K%, 11.1 BB%, 15.00 ERA, 6.72 FIP, 3.33 xFIP)

Like Anderson, the Braves will be looking for better results from Huascar Ynoa when he takes the mound on Sunday. Ynoa lasted just three innings in his first start against the Nationals, allowing seven hits and five runs to go along with two walks and four strikeouts. Ynoa struggled with his command and pitch sequencing and was in trouble from the start. Ynoa faced the Padres once in 2021 and allowed seven hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, though those runs included a grand slam when he was hung out to dry by facing the lineup a third time through the order (he had a 6/0 K/BB ratio in that game).

Yu Darvish (2022: 2 GS, 7.2 IP, 13.5 K%, 16.2 BB%, 10.57 ERA, 6.18 FIP, 6.70 xFIP)

Veteran righty Yu Darvish will get the start in the series finale on Sunday Night Baseball and will be looking to bounce back from one of the worst starts of his career. Darvish didn’t allow a hit over six innings in his debut against Arizona albeit with four walks. He didn’t make it out of the second inning in last start against the Giants, allowing eight hits, two walks and nine runs while retiring just five batters. Darvish faced the Braves once in 2021, allowing four hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings. He has faced Atlanta five times in his career and is 0-5 with a 5.79 ERA, 6.01 FIP, and 4.53 xFIP in 23 1/3 innings.

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