Once the smoke starts clearing from the Trade Deadline coming and going, it’s right back to the day-to-day action of big league baseball and the Atlanta Braves will be looking to get even with the Los Angeles Angels after last night’s 4-1 defeat.
The Braves usually have to feel good about their chances on any given night but they especially have to feel good whenever Spencer Strider is called upon to make a start. Strider has gone at least six innings in each of his past seven starts and has struck out at least nine batters in each of those aforementioned seven starts. In fact, he’s reached double digits in five of those seven starts, including four in a row since his start against the Rays on July 8.
Aside from the start on July 15 against the White Sox where he gave up five earned runs and five days later against the Diamondbacks where he surrendered four earned runs, Strider has also done a good job at keeping runs at a minimum. Over these past seven starts, Strider has an ERA- of 69, a FIP- of 54 and is striking out 40 percent of batters that he’s faced (!!!) while only walking 3.4 percent of batters during that same time. He may not be in complete shutdown mode as he’s still giving up just over one home run per nine innings, he’s still doing some serious dealing at the moment and if he can keep this up against Shohei Ohtani and the revamped Angels lineup then the Braves should be in a solid position to pick up a win tonight.
Patrick Sandoval might have something to say about that as far as the Angels are concerned, though. Sandoval may not be having as good of a year as he did during his breakout campaign last season but he’s still be doing a very solid job as one of the Angels’ more reliable starters this season. He’s also entering this game on a good run — he’s gone at least five innings in each of his past seven starts and his past three starts have been the best of the bunch as he’s given up two runs at the most — the Tigers got two runs at his expense in his last outing and then Sandoval limited the Yankees and the Padres to one run in each of his starts preceding that one.
Many of the Braves who are going to be in the lineup tonight actually have some relatively recent experience against Patrick Sandoval, as he was one of the starters for the Angels when they visited here last season. That game didn’t go well for Sandoval, as the Braves got him for eight hits, two walks and five runs over three innings. Michael Harris II was responsible for two RBIs against Sandoval and both Marcell Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud got in on the fun with an RBI each. Interestingly, the two former A’s players in Matt Olson and Sean Murphy actually haven’t fared too well against Sandoval in the past — Murphy has a .188 average with one RBI over 16 plate appearances and Olson has yet to record a hit against Sandoval in 10 plate appearances. If that changes, then the Braves may be in good shape tonight.
On paper, the pitching matchup tonight seems like a solid one. It wouldn’t be shocking to see both Strider and Sandoval dueling deep into the night until it becomes a battle of the bullpens in the latter stages of the contest. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see either one of these pitchers fall victim to something close to a calamity — whether it’s the Braves’ high-powered lineup bouncing back in dominating fashion or Strider falling victim to the home run ball again. That’s what keeps us coming back to the ballpark (or the TV set) every night — you never know what you’re going to get. You’ve got no choice but to watch and it should be intriguing to see how this game goes tonight.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, August 1, 7:20 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan