Tuesday night will feature a matchup of NL Central versus NL East when the Pittsburgh Pirates (30-35) take on the Atlanta Braves (37-29) at SunTrust Park. If the first game was any indication, emotions could be running high in this second of a three-game series. In the opener, three were ejected, including Josh Donaldson, Joe Musgrove, and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, during a first-inning skirmish after Musgrove had hit Donaldson. This led to the Pirates’ bullpen having to pick up 7 1/3 innings of work and led to an onslaught by the Braves’ offense, including five home runs by the Braves.
In Tuesday’s matchup, Chris Archer (3-5, 5.20 ERA) will take the mound for the Pirates squaring off against the Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 5.89 ERA). First pitch for this one is scheduled for 7:20 pm ET.
The moneyline for this one features the Pittsburgh Pirates at +132 and the Atlanta Braves at -142. The over/under for total runs scored is set at 10.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the Atlanta Braves currently sit 13th in the Major Leagues at 4.97 runs per game (5.06 at home). For the Pittsburgh Pirates, they come in at 22nd overall at 4.25 runs per game (4.09 on the road).
On the pitching side, the Braves once again come out ahead. They rank 12th in team earned run average with a staff ERA of 4.25 (4.50 at home). For the Pirates, they rank 26th with a 5.04 ERA (4.66 on the road).
In terms of run differential, the Braves rank 13th overall with a run differential of +15 while the Pirates rank 26th at -78.
Pirates Trying To Stay Relevant
At 30-35, the Pirates currently sit in fourth place in the NL Central. Still, at 7.5 games back, it is not inconceivable that they could make a run, but they certainly need to start playing better ball than they have. Trying to get them going on Tuesday will be Chris Archer.
Archer was traded from the Rays last season, and the trade itself has worked wonderfully for Tampa Bay while the Pirates are still waiting for Archer to elevate his game. On the season, Archer is 3-5 in 10 starts with a 5.20 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and opponents are hitting .246 against him. In 53 2/3 innings, he has allowed 50 hits, 31 earned runs, 11 home runs and has struck out 53 while walking 28.
On the offensive side, the Pirates are ecstatic with the leaps that Josh Bell has made this season. The first baseman is absolutely mashing the ball, hitting .324/.388/.660 with 18 home runs, 58 runs batted in and 46 runs scored (leading the team in all three categories). Despite starting slow, Starling Marte has also come around offensively. He is hitting .289/.329/.477 with nine home runs, 30 runs batted in and 38 runs scored. Aside from those two, though, offense can be a little hit or miss in Pittsburgh.
Braves Look To Keep Pace
This definitely feels like the season that general manager Alex Anthopoulos is going to go for it. After seeing his team get off to a good start despite shaky pitching, the Braves went out and picked up lefty Dallas Keuchel to bolster the rotation. They are also hoping that Tuesday’s starter, Mike Foltynewicz gets it turned around too.
On the season, he is 1-5 in eight starts with a 5.89 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and opponents are hitting .270 against him. The long ball has particularly hurt him, having given up 15 home runs in 44 1/3 innings, along with 47 hits and 29 earned runs. He has minimized walks, giving up nine versus 37 strikeouts.
If they can get the pitching figured out, this could be a scary team with how solid their offense is. Freddie Freeman (.311/.401/.598 with 18 home runs, 43 runs batted in and 47 runs scored), Austin Riley (.278/.320/.588 with nine home runs in 97 at-bats), Ronald Acuna Jr (.277/.360/.488 with 15 home runs, 45 runs batted in and 41 runs scored), and Ozzie Albies (.269/.336/.435 with nine home runs and 39 runs scored) have all been really solid. Throw in players like Nick Markakis and Josh Donaldson around them, and this lineup can beat you top to bottom.
Braves Take Game Two
Admittedly, Mike Foltynewicz’s struggles this season have concerned me. He has given up more home runs than he did all of last season, but I also don’t love Chris Archer. For me, it comes down to the offense, and in that regard, I really like what the Braves have to offer.
I do think a lot of runs are going to be scored (although 10 is a really high number for an over/under), and if it comes down to who can outslug the other, I like the Braves. Granted, if Josh Bell or Starling Marte goes off, they can make it interesting, but for my money, I am going to take the Braves at -142.