The Braves have had a fantastic start to their 2023 campaign, going 5-1 on their season-opening road trip. After sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis, they’ll return home to Atlanta to take on the Padres in their home-opening series, which should be full of intrigue and fireworks.
The Padres went 3-3 on their season-opening homestand, splitting a four-game set with the Rockies and a two-game set with the Diamondbacks. That puts them a game behind the 4-2 Dodgers at the time of writing, in what should be a hotly-contested divisional race. Nothing has really gone wrong for the Padres in their first six games, but nothing has really gone amazingly right, either, which is why they are where they are. Still, they look to be one of the National League’s (and MLB’s) most dangerous teams on paper — other than the Braves, no team is projected to accumulate more WAR, have a better record over the remaining part of the season, or finish with a higher win total than the Padres.
All of that is to say that no one should take this series lightly, even if the Braves did just sweep a very good Cardinals team on the road without breaking much of a sweat in any of the three games.
Thursday, April 6, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast, MLB Network)
Blake Snell ( 1 GS, 4.1 IP, 42.9 K%, 4.8 BB%, 36.4 GB%, 6.23 ERA, -0.23 FIP)
Lefty Blake Snell will get the start for the Padres in Thursday’s series opener. Snell allowed six hits and three runs in his first outing against the Rockies. He struck out nine, but ran up a high pitch count and left after just 4 1/3 innings. Snell has only faced the Braves once in his career, where he allowed four hits and one run over 6 1/3 innings.
Spencer Strider ( 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 39.1 K%, 13.0 BB%, 18.2 GB%, 0.00 ERA, 1.73 FIP)
After an excellent debut, Spencer Strider will get the start in Thursday’s home opener for Atlanta. Strider shut down the Nationals in his first outing allowing three hits over six scoreless frames to go along with nine strikeouts. Strider has two career appearances (zero starts) against the Padres, allowing two hits and two runs over 4 2/3 innings.
Friday, April 7, 7:20 p.m. ET (Apple TV+)
Nick Martinez ( 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 17.2 K%, 6.9 BB%, 54.5 GB%, 5.14 ERA, 4.51 FIP)
Right-hander Nick Martinez will start the second game of the series for San Diego Friday. Martinez covered seven innings for the Padres in his first outing while allowing six hits and four runs with a 5/2 K/BB ratio against the Rockies. Martinez has faced the Braves just once previously in his career where he allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings.
The Braves have not announced their starter for Friday’s game. This is the spot that Jared Shuster occupied for the first turn. It appears that some sort of bullpen game might be an option. Lucas Luetge hasn’t pitched since Opening Day, but the Braves used a number of relievers to finish out the sweep against the Cardinals, so it’s not clear whether they’ll need to make a roster move to add another non-Luetge bulk arm for this game. It’s not actually clear what starter-type options they might have for this game beyond placing someone on the IL and recalling Shuster, because most other starters are either hurt/ramping up or are already in Atlanta’s rotation.
Saturday, April 8, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Michael Wacha ( 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 7.7 K%, 11.5 BB%, 28.6 GB%, 6.00 ERA, 6.23 FIP)
Michael Wacha was a late addition to the Padres’ roster during the offseason and will make his second start of the season on Saturday. Wacha allowed six hits, three walks and four runs over six innings against Colorado in his first outing in what turned out to be a pretty sour Padres debut. Wacha hasn’t had a lot of success against the Braves, against whom he has allowed 19 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings.
Charlie Morton ( 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 3.7 K%, 7.4 BB%, 50.0% GB, 5.06 ERA, 3.98 FIP)
Speaking of terrible debuts, Charlie Morton will also have nowhere to go but up after a problematic outing that still resulted a win in his first start of the year. Both Morton and Wacha issued more walks than they collected strikeouts in their season debuts, and both will be looking to at least not have that happen again this time around. Morton made two starts against the Padres last year, which were emblematic of his roller coaster season. He was crushed in San Diego (5/3 K/BB ratio, a homer, five runs in five innings) but then dominated the Padres a month later in Atlanta (9/1 K/BB ratio, one non-homer run in six innings).
Sunday, April 9, 7:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Seth Lugo ( 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 28.0 K%, 0.0 BB%, 55.6 GB%, 1.29 ERA, 3.08 FIP)
Seth Lugo will look to keep his good start rolling in the series finale on Sunday Night Baseball, as he had a 7/0 K/BB ratio in seven one-run innings against the Rockies in his season debut. It was his first start since the tail end of the 2020 season, and could not have gone much better. The Braves are intimately familiar with Lugo, facing him in seven different games last season. For his career, he has thrown 51 innings across 27 games against the Braves, with a 4.08 FIP and 3.73 xFIP (compared to 3.62 and 3.71, respectively, in his career).
Dylan Dodd ( 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 15.8 K%, 0.0 BB%, 43.8 GB%, 1.80 ERA, 2.03 FIP)
Much like Saturday is a matchup of guys who wish their 2023 debut went way better, Sunday is a matchup of guys whose 2023 debut was excellent. For Dodd, it also happened to be his major league debut, and he wowed with his command and his ability to hang tough with a powerful, righty-stacked Cardinals lineup.