After a much-needed off day Monday, the Atlanta Braves will try to pick up the pieces after a poor showing against the New York Mets this past weekend. Atlanta dropped four of five in New York and saw their deficit in the NL East balloon to 6.5 games. It could be as high as seven games before they start play on Tuesday. Sunday’s loss gave Atlanta its first three-game losing streak of the season.
The Braves will try to put that series behind them when they begin a two-game series at Fenway Park against the Red Sox Tuesday. Boston comes into the series struggling as well, having lost two straight and six of 10 overall. They went 20-6 in June but are just 11-23 since, and have fallen into last place in the AL East standings at 54-56 as a result. The Braves split a two-game series with the Red Sox in Atlanta back in May.
The Red Sox were both buyers and sellers at the Trade Deadline. They shipped catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros for a couple of minor leaguers, but picked up outfielder Tommy Pham, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Reese McGuire. Boston is 11th in the majors in runs scored, but is 25th in team ERA. It’s basically been a middling position player unit that combines average hitting with below-average defense. The pitching’s been okay (19th in fWAR), but again, the defense drags it down and makes the run prevention worse than the pitching’s contribution.
Rafael Devers recently returned from the Injured List and is one of two Red Sox bats, along with Xander Bogaerts, to have put together stellar seasons so far. Trevor Story is currently on the shelf due to a hairline fracture in his wrist and won’t play in the upcoming series. Devers and Bogaerts each have upwards of 4 fWAR; no other Red Sox players have even crossed the 2 fWAR threshold.
Tuesday, August 9, 7:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South, TBS)
Charlie Morton (21 GS, 116.2 IP, 27.2 K%, 8.7 BB%, 4.09 ERA, 3.96 FIP)
Charlie Morton will get the start for Atlanta in Tuesday’s series opener. Morton turned in a good performance last time out, allowing three hits while striking out eight over 6 2/3 scoreless innings against Philadelphia. Morton has allowed two runs or less in seven of his last nine starts.
Rich Hill (16 GS, 73.2 IP, 18.8 K%, 7.3 BB%, 4.52 ERA, 4.16 FIP)
Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will start for Boston in the opener. A sprained knee cost Hill a month of the season and he wasn’t effective in his first start since returning, allowing six hits and four runs in just three innings against the Astros. His peripherals are okay, but pitching to contact in front of this defense isn’t great.
Wednesday, August 10, 7:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Kyle Wright (21 GS, 128.2 IP, 23.5 K%, 7.2 BB%, 3.22 ERA, 3.75 FIP)
Kyle Wright will be looking for a bounceback performance when he takes the mound in Wednesday’s series finale. Wright started the opener in New York and was tagged for a season-high six runs including a season-high four home runs. Coming into that start, the most home runs Wright had allowed in any start this season was two, which happened back on July 9 against the Nationals. The Mets battered him for five runs early and while he was able to get through six innings, it was a disappointing result. Wright allowed six runs in a start one other time this season back on May 10 against the Red Sox. He allowed seven hits, walked four in his shortest start of the season at 4 2/3 innings. He’ll need to have better movement on his curveball than what he showed in New York to survive.
Nick Pivetta (22 GS, 123.2 IP, 22.6 K%, 8.5 BB%, 4.51 ERA, 4.17 FIP)
Right-hander Nick Pivetta will start opposite Wright in Wednesday’s finale. Pivetta’s season got off to a good start, but he went off the cliff in July where he allowed 25 runs in 24 innings across six starts. He allowed seven hits and three runs in five innings in his last start against the Royals.
Pivetta actually leads Red Sox hurlers in fWAR this year, and is their only starter to exceed 100 innings so far. Weirdly enough, his pitching line is almost identical to Hill’s, just with more innings.