Following a bit of a slip-up in a series loss to the White Sox, the Atlanta Braves are now looking to get things back in the right direction as they welcome in the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first game of a three-game home series.
The last time the Braves ran into the Diamondbacks, they were busy being one of the biggest surprise teams in baseball as they were leading the NL West at that time. Meanwhile, the Braves lost the first game of that series, had their second team meeting in Arizona in as many seasons and then went on to win the series and embark on a tear that currently sees them 30 games over .500 with a 10-game lead in the NL East.
On the other hand, the Diamondbacks have hit a bit of a slump where they’ve lost four straight (including getting swept by the Blue Jays in their return from the All-Star break) and have only won two of their last 10 games. As a result, they’ve not only lost their lead in the NL West but they’ve even fallen to third place — they’re half-a-game behind the Giants for second place and are two-and-a-half back of the Dodgers for the divisional lead. Simply put, the Diamondbacks are trying to make sure that this slump doesn’t leave them completely adrift from their rivals and undo all the good work that they’ve done to reach this point in the season.
Arizona will be relying on starting pitcher Zach Davies to hopefully get them off to a good start in this series. I’m going to start this by saying that Davies should be taken seriously, as the Rays learned back on June 28 when he pitched seven scoreless innings against them. If you can shut down an offense like that then anything’s possible. With that being said, he’s proven to be vulnerable as that start against Tampa was the only instance in his past six starts where he gave up less than three runs in an outing.
Davies had an incredibly rough stretch in June where he could barely get out of the fourth inning and gave up six, nine, and six runs in three respective starts. He’s been better in his most recent appearances but I’d still say that it would be disappointing if the Braves couldn’t find a way to get a few runs on the board against this guy. Again, he does have what it takes to shut down high-powered offenses but I’d imagine that the guy who showed up against Tampa may not be the same guy who shows up tonight.
Speaking of disappointing, that’s a perfect word to describe 2023 National League All-Star Bryce Elder’s final outing before the All-Star break. To bring up Tampa once again, the Rays simply were not fooled by Elder in his last start as they bopped him for six hits, three walks and seven runs over just 3.1 innings of work. The good news for Elder is that there’s nowhere to go but up after that outing and and he may be catching Arizona at a good time considering the slump that they’re experiencing.
Ever since July 1, the Diamondbacks have been hitting .210/.297/.326 as a team, which is good for a team wRC+ of 71 and a team wOBA of .280 over that span. For comparison’s sake, the Braves have been somewhat middle-of-the-road-ish at the plate in that same span, as they’re hitting .255/.324/.464 with a team wRC+ of 111 and a team wOBA of .340. Arizona’s offensive production this month is down there with the Rockies and Pirates, which is absolutely not the company you want to keep in any type of way in baseball nowadays. The clear hope is that Bryce Elder will be able to exacerbate Arizona’s woes and keep them in the doldrums with no hope of waking up — at least for tonight, that is.
The Braves themselves are hoping to avoid falling into an actual losing streak for the first time in a while. Atlanta hasn’t lost three straight games since May, which is when they lost the second game of a two-game series against the Red Sox and then got swept by the Blue Jays. Ever since that four-game losing streak, the most the Braves have lost in a row is two and they’ve been in excellent form since that rough patch. The Diamondbacks are in a slump and the Braves are looking to nip theirs right in the bud. Hopefully we get the latter result by the time the night is over!
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, July 18, 7:20 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
Tv: Bally Sports South
Listen: 680 AM/93.7 The Fan