Following a tough loss on Memorial Day to the Oakland Athletics, the Atlanta Braves will be looking to bounce back by leaning on one of their most consistent pitchers this season in the middle game of this three-game series.
That’s right, folks: It’s Bryce Elder Day. We’ve actually reached the point now where Elder’s starts are getting the whole “Day” treatment and he’s actually done a lot to deserve it. Despite the fact that Elder’s Statcast metrics continue to have various shades of blue similar to a Duke vs. North Carolina basketball game, he’s continued to simply get the job done on the mound by keeping the Braves in each game that he’s pitched in recently.
Elder has given up two runs or less in each of his past five starts and he’s given up three runs or more in only two of his 10 starts all season. It also helps that he’s at least made it into the sixth inning in all of his 10 starts, so he’s getting somewhat deep into games while also managing to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard to a degree. A 2.01 ERA and a 3.46 FIP will get the job done and the clear hope is that Elder will be able to give the Braves another solid start against a lineup that may not be as strong as, say, the Dodgers or the Mariners were in his most recent two starts.
Oakland as a team has a wRC+ of 89, which is good for 24th place in all of baseball and the fifth-worst number in the American League. Their team wRC+ against right-handed pitchers actually goes down to 81, which makes them third worst-hitting team against righties in baseball. While Oakland has already proven based on yesterday’s performance that this is still a team that should be taken seriously, this is still a team that should be taken care of if you think that you’re going to have a good pitching staff this season. Hopefully Elder will be able to continue his run of form with another solid start and maybe the bullpen can start to get on track with a string of scoreless innings against this crew.
On the other side of the pitching coin in this game, the A’s will be rolling out JP Sears as their starter for tonight’s contest. Sears is coming into this game off a string of three solid performances where he made it at least five innings and gave up two runs at the most in each of those starts. He was pulled after just 59 pitches in his last start, so there’s a possibility that he could go even deeper if he continues his good run of form on the mound.
While Sears hasn’t been striking out batters at a highly consistent rate, he is still entering this game with a Chase Rate in the 82nd percentile of all pitchers and he’s also done a great job of being walk-averse as a pitcher — his Walk Rate is in the 91st percentile. Sears may have gotten off to an extremely rough start to the season but he’s been showing signs of a turnaround and if it continues, then it could be another challenging night at the plate for the Braves.
Even if JP Sears figures to be a tough customer, the Braves have to be entering this game with an idea of setting the record straight. This is far from being a must-win game or anything close to that but at the same time, you don’t want to drop a series to a team that had 10 wins on the year coming into this week’s action. Atlanta should be doing a lot better than scoring just two runs against any team — much less this one in particular. The A’s have already shown that they’re a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly and now it’s the Braves turn to establish dominance in this series. Let’s not give Oakland any chance of a sweep, okay?
Game Date/Time : Tuesday, May 30, 9:40 p.m. ET
Location: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA
TV: Bally Sports South
Listen: 680 AM/93.7FM The Fan