BRAVES (35-29) AT MARLINS (23-39)
1:10 p.m. ET; FS-F, FSSO, MLB.TV
Atlanta Braves left-hander Max Fried could soon start to feel the heat.
Fried, who will face the host Miami Marlins in the series finale on Sunday as the Braves seek a three-game sweep, has been solid this season with a 7-3 record and a 3.68 ERA. However, he has a 5.18 ERA over his past eight starts. He has allowed a season-high nine hits in each of his past two outings.
In addition, this weekend the Braves announced the signing of starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2015 with a 20-8 record and a 2.48 ERA.
Keuchel, who was unsigned this year as he waited for a team to meet his price — which, it turned out, was $13 million for the final three months of this season — will eventually knock a Braves starter out of the rotation.
Rookie of the Year frontrunner and Cy Young candidate Mike Soroka (7-1, 1.38 ERA) and Julio Teheran (4-4, 3.03 ERA after beating Miami 1-0 on Saturday) are the only Braves starters secure in their spots.
Kevin Gausman (2-5, 6.15 ERA) and Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 5.89 ERA) are most vulnerable, but Fried, 25, needs to get back on track. He hasn’t faced the Marlins this year and is 0-0 with a 5.63 ERA in two career starts against Miami. He has a 4.15 ERA in his one start at Marlins Park.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the Keuchel signing was not targeted to boot any particular pitcher out of the rotation.
“We’re looking to improve the team,” he said. “It was a rare opportunity to add an impact starter in the middle of the year without having to trade prospects. It was our good fortune that Dallas was available and interested in us.”
Fried will be opposed on Sunday by Marlins right-hander Pablo Lopez (4-5, 4.52 ERA).
Opponents are hitting just .139 against Lopez’s curveball. In addition, Lopez has pitched well at home this year, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.84 ERA in five starts. He is 0-3 in four games against the Braves with an 4.09 ERA.
Offensively, the Marlins on Saturday benched rookie outfielder Harold Ramirez, who was used as a pinch hitter and broke an 0-for-16 drought with a double.
Miami’s outfield has been in a state of flux all season. On Saturday, the Marlins started former shortstop JT Riddle in center, flanked by Curtis Granderson in left and Garrett Cooper in right.
Riddle, 27, played some right field at the University of Kentucky but had zero experience in a major league outfield prior to last week.
“There are still things for me to see out there,” said Riddle, who has played five games in center so far. “For the most part, I’ve been pleased with how well things have gone, but I want to keep improving.”
Miami started the season with Lewis Brinson in center field, but, when the standout prospect hit just .197 in 27 games, the Marlins sent him to Triple-A and have tried numerous players in that spot, including Ramirez, Jon Berti, Rosell Herrera, Isaac Galloway and Riddle.
Atlanta’s offense is led by first baseman Freddie Freeman, who went 1-for-3 on Saturday and has homered in four of his past seven games. He leads the Braves in batting average (.311) and homers (17 homers) while driving in 41 runs.
The Braves have won 18 of their past 22 games in their matchup against Miami.
–Field Level Media