The Atlanta Braves will continue their road trip Tuesday when they will begin a two-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Atlanta avoided a third-straight series loss Sunday with a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Atlanta is 64-34 on the season and currently holds an 11.5-game lead over the Phillies and the Marlins in the NL East.
The Braves got a jump on the Trade Deadline Monday with the additions of relievers Pierce Johnson and Taylor Hearn. Atlanta acquired Johnson from the Rockies in exchange for minor league pitchers Tanner Gordon and Victor Vodnik. Hearn had been designated for assignment by the Rangers last week and arrives in exchange for cash considerations. The Braves also added righty Yonny Chirinos off waivers from Tampa Bay on Sunday.
The Red Sox come into the series playing well, having won two straight and six of ten overall. They have played particularly well at home of late, winning seven of eight at Fenway Park and are 20-12 there since June 14. They are just two games back of the Blue Jays for the final Wild Card spot in the American League. Their roster is nothing special, as it rates average-y more or less across the board; their 53-47 record is exactly in line with BaseRuns so far.
On the position player side, the Red Sox have been buoyed by Jarren Duran, who is massively outhitting his xwOBA and has a 136 wRC+ as a result; Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo have also chipped in with good production. On the pitching side, James Paxton and Chris Sale have been good when healthy, while old friends Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin are enjoying superb seasons in relief.
The Braves split a series in Atlanta with the Red Sox earlier this year. They went 3-1 against Boston last year, but were 1-3 against them in 2021.
Tuesday, July 25, 7:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Charlie Morton (19 GS, 109.2 IP, 25.2 K%, 9.7 BB%, 46.6 GB%, 3.36 ERA, 3.69 FIP)
Charlie Morton will get the start for Atlanta in the opener and will be looking to bounce back after a tough start last time out. Morton allowed six hits, three walks and four runs over 5 2/3 innings in his last start against the Diamondbacks. That snapped a three-start stretch where he had allowed just one run over his last 19 innings, and was his worst start on a K/BB ratio basis in about six weeks. Morton has totaled just four strikeouts in each of his last two starts and has just 19 over his last 24 2/3 innings.
Boston hasn’t announced its pitching plans for Tuesday, but it will likely be a bullpen game with possibly Nick Pivetta serving as the bulk guy.
Wednesday, July 26, 7:10 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Spencer Strider (20 GS, 116.2 IP, 39.7 K%, 7.4 BB%, 33.1 GB%, 3.78 ERA, 2.88 FIP)
Spencer Strider will make his 21st start of the season in the series finale on Wednesday. He racked up his third-straight double digit strikeout game with 13 in his last outing against the Diamondbacks, but was also tagged for a pair of homers and four runs in six innings. He was cruising and looking unhittable in a scoreless tie, but gave up back-to-back homers, starting with a three-run shot, after getting the lead late.
Strider has allowed 12 hits and nine runs in two starts since the All-Star Break, though the first of those games mostly had a lot of runs charged to him due to Eddie Rosario’s misadventures in left field. Strider leads the majors with 189 strikeouts, which is 17 more than Kevin Gausman, who is in second place.
Brayan Bello (16 GS, 90.0 IP, 20.5 K%, 6.3 BB%, 55.7 GB%, 3.60 ERA, 4.36 FIP)
Right-hander Brayan Bello will face the Braves for the second time this season in Wednesday’s finale. Bello allowed six hits and two runs, including a long home run to Ronald Acuña Jr, in six innings back on May 10 at Truist Park. He has a 3.38 ERA and a 4.07 FIP over his last eight starts dating back to the start of June. He was hit hard his last time out, allowing three homers and six runs in four innings against Oakland.
Like many young starters, Bello is trying to figure out how to thread the needle between avoiding walks and not giving up homers. He gave up seven homers in his first seven starts of the year, but that came with a K%-BB% of 16 percent. He then didn’t allow a single homer over his next six starts, but that key rate shrunk to 13 percent. The Braves may be catching him at a good time as he continues to adjust, given that he’s allowed six homers over his past three starts with a 12.5 percent K%-BB%.