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What to watch for in Tuesday night’s Braves-Nationals game

Another starter debuts during Braves’ streak; Olson not on the party bus

Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Braves will try to make it 13 wins in a row on Tuesday night after winning a rain-soaked series opener by a 9-5 score in Washington, thanks to, you guessed it... more homers! Here are some things to be aware of.

Not Gray, but Tetreault’s Debut

Josiah Gray was Washington’s scheduled starter on Monday night, but ended up being scratched after the storm cell delayed the game for 90 minutes. While it conceptually might have made sense for the Nationals to simply push Gray’s start to the following game, instead they are sticking with their pre-game plans and giving 26-year-old Jackson Tetreault his major league debut on Tuesday night; Tetreault was initially slotted in after the team revealed that Stephen Strasburg was heading back to the Injured List before Monday’s game.

Tetreault was a seventh-round pick in 2016 and has slowly wended his way through the minors, pitching at a couple of levels each year. He made it to Triple-A for a few games last year, and has underwhelming numbers at the level this year: 4.19 ERA / 5.25 FIP / 4.65 xFIP. There isn’t much in the way of detailed scouting on Tetreault, as he’s not much of a prospect, but he appears to have a pretty underwhelming, low-90s fastball and relies on secondaries, including a hard cutter and curveball, to get guys out.

There was a chance for another guy making his major league debut to nip this Braves streak in the bud, as Oakland’s Jared Koenig tried and failed at stymying the Atlanta offense last Wednesday. Koenig did okay, as he held the Braves scoreless through three, and ended up being chased by a grounder triple off the bat of Michael Harris II that gave the Braves a 3-2 lead. The game later turned into a 13-2 rout. Will the Braves be able to run their streak to 13 with another relatively unheralded hurler on the hill making his debut? Stay tuned.

Note that it’s still not clear when Gray is going to pitch. The final game of this series is a possibility, though that would mean bumping Erick Fedde. The Nationals haven’t yet announced it either way (as of Tuesday morning).

Matt Olson, left behind by the party bus

With Monday’s win continuing the team’s perfect June, the Braves offense budged their monthly wRC+ up to 143, third in MLB for the month. (Their .372 xwOBA is fourth among teams in this span.) Almost the entire offense has rolled — with three exceptions.

Ozzie Albies is now out indefinitely with a foot issue, but had a fine .328 xwOBA in June. Marcell Ozuna at least homered yesterday, and while very blah, his .300 xwOBA still beats that of Matt Olson, who is just not romping along with the rest of his teammates.

Olson’s .276 xwOBA / .259 wOBA in June haven’t really slowed down the team, but are nonetheless a bummer for him. After his monster May 31, 2022 game (4-for-4, two doubles and a homer) that the Braves nonetheless lost, he’s shed 15 points of wRC+ in 12 games. While he’s had a handful of good games offensively and WPA-wise over the streak, the overall effect for June has been pretty poor, including -0.25 WPA and a 62 wRC+.

Olson’s “issues” in this run are pretty similar to what you’d expect from anyone with a bad set of inputs in around a two-week span. He’s chasing a bunch, which has halted his previously-great walk rate from buttressing his line. He’s clearly trying to hit a bunch more balls in the air right now and it’s not quite coming together yet, but seems like the sort of thing that’ll work itself out once he gets back to his normally-patient ways. All in all, this is a pretty good time for a slump given how well the team is hitting around him, but hopefully he gets back to an Olson-esque level of production, if only for his own sake.

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