The Atlanta Braves are finally home after a long road trip but there’s no rest for the weary as they’re right back in action tonight. Right after taking three games out of four from the New York Mets, the Braves are now looking to double up on beating New York teams as they start up a three-game series against the New York Yankees.
One player in particular who is making an even-longer awaited return to the mound in Cobb County is Max Fried. He’s already made two starts since returning from injury but both of those happened during that aforementioned road trip. The wait ends today, as Max Fried will be making his first start at Truist Park since early May. Fried’s two starts since returning from injury have been a mixed bag so far. If not for a pitch limit in his first start back, it seemed as if he would’ve been on track to potentially complete the game himself. His second start saw him join the rest of his rotation mates in having a rough start, so he’s going to be in search of a bounce-back start tonight.
The good news is that it seems like the starting rotation is beginning to show some signs of getting back on track after their roughest patch of the season. Back on Friday, Charlie Morton somehow managed to get through five innings without giving up a run while walking seven (7) batters and then that was followed up by Allan Winans haunting the team that drafted him with seven scoreless innings and Spencer Strider adding seven scoreless innings of his own in the “night” part of the day-night doubleheader. While Yonny Chirinos may have struggled last night and those three strong performances may have come against a severely diminished Mets team, it’s still the exact type of thing that is needed to boost confidence again.
Fried will be facing a Yankees lineup that hasn’t exactly been inspiring memories of Murderer’s Row in the Bronx this season. The Yankees have had a just below-average team wRC+ since July 14 (99) and their team wOBA has been in the same area as well (.313). One of the main reasons for their mediocre offensive production throughout the season is that Aaron Judge hasn’t been healthy for most of it. As it turns out, Judge has been back since late-July and he’s essentially been carrying the lineup since his return. He’s absolutely the clear danger man in this lineup.
The Yankees will be sending out Clarke Schmidt to pitch as their starter for tonight’s game. Schmidt has essentially been the only other bright spot for New York’s rotation outside of Gerritt Cole, as Schmidt is entering this game with a perfectly average ERA- and FIP- of 100. Schmidt has provided a very steady presence for the Yankees in his spot in the rotation, as he’s gone 15 straight starts where he’s given up three runs or less. His last start saw him reach the sixth inning with just one run allowed, one walk, four hits and seven strikeouts.
That one walk from his most recent start isn’t a shock either, as he’s currently in the 80th percentile of pitchers when it comes to his 6.3 percent walk rate. He’s also done pretty well when it comes to getting batters to chase pitchers, as he’s sitting on a chase rate that has him in the 60th percentile of pitchers. However, the stats that stick out to me is that when he does give up contact, it’s usually hard contact. His average exit velocity is at 90 mph, his Hard Hit percentage is at 42.3 percent and his barrel percentage is at 8.1 percent.
That’s not particularly encouraging for Clarke Schmidt when it comes to the fact that he’ll be facing the hardest hitting team in Major League Baseball this season in the form of the Atlanta Braves. As a reminder, the Braves lead the league in average exit velocity (91.4 mph), Hard Hit percentage (46.5 percent) and both Barrels per Batted Ball Event percentage (12.1 percent) and Barrels per Plate Appearance (8.4 percent). On paper, this seems like a very favorable matchup for the Braves as a team, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Braves continue to keep those trends going in the same direction against a pitcher that seems to play to their strengths.
It’s always interesting whenever the Yankees come to town — even if they’re currently in unfamiliar territory in last place in the AL East and are fighting to stay over .500, much less in the AL Wild Card hunt. Meanwhile, the Braves are trying to get back in full gear following a road trip that ended up being very tricky to navigate. Atlanta’s going to be happy to be back home and the crowd should be lively as well, so this seems like it should be another fun night at the ballpark or on television this evening. Hopefully it ends in a win for the home team.
Game Date/Time: Monday, August 14, 7:20 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Bally Sports South, MLB Network (out-of-market only)
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM