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Spencer Strider, Taj Bradley tangle as Braves look for series win over Rays

We get treated to a matchup between the two best teams in baseball and a star pitcher versus a top pitching prospect

MLB: JUL 02 Marlins at Braves Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In what is a treat of a pre-all-star break series, we get a treat of a pitching matchup between one of the top pitchers in baseball in Spencer Strider and one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Taj Bradley. This time, the game is on big FOX, instead of Apple TV+.

What a matchup we have here in early July, folks. The best two teams in baseball, two teams that have consistently been good for the last number of years and both dominating early this season, the Rays on fire to start and the Braves on fire right now. It doesn’t get much better than this at this time of year, unless the game is in a better stadium than the Trop, perhaps. This Saturday, we not only get this top tier matchup of incredible teams, but we get arguably the most exciting pitcher in baseball, Spencer Strider, versus a bright young arm in Taj Bradley.

We all know Strider pretty well by now, so let’s look at Bradley. He has been solid this season overall by his more performance and predictive metrics, but his last two starts have been his worst, giving up 5 home runs across 7.1 innings in the two starts. He has a really good strikeout rate this season, at 12.14 K/9 and a solid walk rate of only 2.72 BB/9. It’s not hard to see why he was such a top prospect looking at his pitch arsenal. All of his pitches have average-to-good movement relative to their velocity. His four-seamer in particular has pretty special rise, surpassing that even on Strider’s.

Although he has had such a high strikeout rate, his whiff rate is only average and he has given up some hard contact when he has given up contact. As you can see below, his location heat map is...not what you want at the moment.

It’s not hard to see why Bradley has been so well-regarded as a prospect, but he may still have a few things to figure out command-wise and could refine a few of his pitches further. It’s hard to say what we will see on Saturday against the Braves, as is usual with top pitching prospects (or pitching in general). We could see a masterful performance that is a hint at a flourishing career or we could see him get shelled by an absolutely elite Braves’ offense and see the flaws that remain for him exposed to the extreme.

Either way, on paper, this is about as must-see of a baseball game you can get in early July, so let’s enjoy it.

Game Info

Atlanta Braves @ Tampa Bay Rays

Saturday, July 8, 2023

7:15 pm EDT

Tropicana Field

St. Petersburg, FL


Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan

XM Radio: Online/Ch. 89

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