June 16, 2024

Three things to remember about the Braves: Sean Murphy’s return, Chris Sale’s comeback, and more

The Braves had a difficult weekend in Pittsburgh, starting with back-to-back losses to the Pirates and culminating in Ronald Acuña Jr.’s season-ending injury. A win on Sunday that prevented a sweep and another masterful outing from Chris Sale—who is pitching like he’s in 2018—were overshadowed by his second torn ACL in less than three years.

The Braves have dropped 14 of their last 25 games, including an 8-4 loss to Mitchell Parker and the Washington Nationals on Monday to start the series. After allowing just two hits in seven scoreless innings, the rookie starter allowed the Braves to score four runs in the eighth inning off of him and the bullpen, including a two-run home ball from Adam Duvall, who has taken Acuña’s position in right field

After hitting.277 and averaging 5.7 runs over its first 26 games, including 19 victories, Atlanta has dropped to.224 while averaging less than 3.5 runs in this 25-game run.

Charlie Morton gave up 12 hits and eight runs in 5 1/3 innings on Monday, including four runs in the first inning. The six-time NL East champs will need more from their inconsistent offense and Max Fried (1.70 ERA in his last six outings) and Reynaldo López (1.75 ERA) to keep up with the Philadelphia Phillies, who are on the rise.

Morton, who is 40 years old and has a 4.29 ERA, is not as good as they would want.

Three lessons should be learned from the recent action:

1. Full value delivered by the sale
Not only has Sale won seven straight starts—the most for a Brave since Russ Ortiz did so in 2003—but he has also performed well in the field. It’s how Sale is going about things. The 35-year-old is pitching at a strikeout and ground ball rate reminiscent of his greatest years, when he finished in the top five for six consecutive Cy Young Awards, with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox.

During his winning run, Sale had a 1.17 ERA in 46 innings pitched with 58 strikeouts and 4 walks. Even that, though, falls short of capturing the lanky lefty’s recent dominance and how much his arsenal has relied on exquisite control of sinkers, lethal sliders, and four-seamers clocked at 94–97 mph.

In his last six outings, he has one or no runs scored and a 0.69 ERA. Sale had the best ERA among MLB qualifiers in five of his May starts, compiling an incredible ratio of 45 strikeouts to only two walks in 32 innings.

Since capturing a ring with the 2018 Red Sox, he hasn’t returned to the World Series and hasn’t been able to sustain his health for an entire season. The Braves need to keep Sale healthy if they are to make it back to the World Series for the first time since winning it in 2021, or even just make it out of the NLDS after losing to the Phillies twice in that round.

2. Austin Riley and Sean Murphy return
The Braves are hoping that third baseman Austin Riley,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *