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Braves head back out on the road for three games against the Rangers

Atlanta went 3-3 on their homestand. They will now hit the road for a seven-game trip that will take them to Texas and New York.

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves ended their homestand on a good note, collecting their first series win of the season with a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night. Atlanta finishes their homestand with a 3-3 record and will now head to Texas for a three-game series against the Rangers.

The Braves are 9-11 on the season and are currently in fourth place in the NL East. While it has been a lackluster start, they got a big boost Thursday with the return of Ronald Acuña Jr. from the injured list. Acuña went 1-for-5 and stole two bases in his first game since suffering a torn ACL last July. He isn’t expected to play in Friday’s series opener and the Braves will be cautious with his workload, but his return deepens an already impressive lineup that has suffered a brutal disparity between offensive inputs and outputs to start the season.

Dansby Swanson got off to a painfully slow start in 2022, but put together a good homestand. He was 2-for-3 with a walk and his first home run of the season in Thursday’s win, which capped off a 7-for-18 run at home.

The Rangers were one of the big storylines of the offseason, as they agreed to big contracts with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Despite those additions, the team has gotten off to a tough start, and has lost three straight to fall to 6-13 on the season. Texas entered play Thursday 10th in the majors in runs, but their pitching staff is dead last in fWAR and are 27th in the league with a 4.84 staff ERA. They’re towards the bottom third of teams in both wRC+ and defensive runs, with Corey Seager (91 wRC+, massive xwOBA underperformance) and Marcus Semien (31 wRC+, horrendous xwOBA) not exactly off to the starts they or the Rangers wanted. The pitching has been snakebit to an insane degree, as they are the only staff with negative fWAR right now... yet have the 10th-best xFIP-. They’ve allowed homers on over 19 percent of fly balls allowed, with the next-closest team at 15 percent, and the league at 10 percent as a whole.

The Braves haven’t played the Rangers in a regular-season series since 2017 (they lost a set at home), haven’t visited Arlington since 2014 (they got swept in three games), and haven’t won a road game against the Rangers since June of 2008. In fact, the Braves haven’t beaten Texas in a series since a sweep at Turner Field in 2003. This will be the team’s first regular-season visit to Globe Life Field, though they faced off against the Dodgers there for the 2020 NLCS.

Friday, April 29, 8:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Ian Anderson (3 GS, 13.1 IP, 20.0 K%, 15.0 BB%, 5.40 ERA, 5.25 FIP, 4.47 xFIP)

Ian Anderson will get the start for the Braves in Friday’s series opener in Texas. Anderson wasn’t sharp in his last start, but did a good job of minimizing the damage. He allowed six hits and three runs, although only two were earned, over five innings against the Marlins. He allowed three more walks and has now walked nine in 13 1/3 innings. This will be Anderson’s first career start against the Rangers, the organization that drafted and employs his twin brother.

Spencer Howard (2 G, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 39.1 K%, 0.0 BB%, 14.40 ERA, 12.48 FIP, 1.55 xFIP)

Former Phillies prospect Spencer Howard will get the start in the opener for the Rangers. Howard started back on April 10 and allowed six hits and six runs, including four homers in just three innings against the Blue Jays. He made a relief appearance on April 24 allowing two runs in two innings against Oakland. Howard faced the Braves once while with Philadelphia and allowed seven hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings. That xFIP-FIP (and ERA) gap is really something.

Saturday, April 30, 7:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)

Bryce Elder (3 GS, 14.2 IP, 15.9 K%, 15.9 BB%, 4.30 ERA, 5.80 FIP, 5.27 xFIP)

Bryce Elder will return home to Texas, where he will make his fourth career major league start against the Rangers. Elder is from Decatur, Texas and was a fifth round selection by the Braves in the 2020 MLB Draft out of the University of Texas. Elder allowed three runs in his debut against Nationals. He has allowed just four combined runs in his last two starts, but has struggled with his command, issuing 11 walks in his last nine innings.

Elder has done a good job of minimizing the damage but knows that he needs to be more efficient if he is going to find long term success.

Dane Dunning (4 GS, 18.1 IP, 22.6 K%, 9.5 BB%, 4.91 ERA, 4.60 FIP, 3.54 xFIP)

Right-hander Dane Dunning will make his fifth start of the season for the Rangers Saturday. Dunning is coming off of arguably his best start of the season, where he allowed five hits and two runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Astros. He has pitched into the fifth inning in just two of his four starts. Saturday will be Dunning’s first time facing the Braves in his career.

Dunning had a strong 2021 season by limiting the longball even when he allowed hard contact elsewhere, but like most of his team, hasn’t been anywhere near as fortunate in terms of keeping the ball in the park in 2022, as he’s allowed a longball in three of his four outings so far.

Sunday, May 1, 2:35 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)


The Braves haven’t yet announced their starter for Sunday’s game. This would be Max Fried’s spot in the rotation, but Atlanta could opt to push him back a day to Monday and have him pitch the opener in New York against the Mets. That would line up Charlie Morton and Kyle Wright to pitch Tuesday’s doubleheader.

If Fried doesn’t start Sunday, the Braves could opt to go with a bullpen game. Sunday will be the last day for 28-man rosters around the league, as teams will be required to trim down to 26 players on Monday while carrying a maximum of 14 pitchers.

Taylor Hearn (4 GS, 15.2 IP, 23.1 K%, 9.0 BB%, 7.47 ERA, 4.99 FIP, 3.58 xFIP)

Left-hander Taylor Hearn will make his fifth start of the season for the Rangers in the series finale Sunday. Hearn is coming off of back-to-back tough starts, where he has allowed nine runs over his last eight innings. Again, that’s a big FIP-xFIP and a huge ERA-xFIP gap.

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