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The National League East’s Atlanta Braves start the week with a three-game clash on the road against the NL Central’s Pittsburgh Pirates. Atlanta won their weekend series against Miami while Pittsburgh lost their series to Milwaukee. The Braves will start left-hander Max Fried for Monday evening’s game while the Pirates will have right-hander Chase de Jong starting.
Braves Moving on Up!
Not to the Eastside, of course, but up in NL East divisional standings where they’re now in second place with a 41-42 record, three and a half games behind the first-place New York Mets. Before their weekend series against Miami began, Atlanta was in third place behind the Washington Nationals. The Braves need to keep their pedal on the metal as second, third, and fourth place in the East are only separated by one full game so every game counts. Now they get to play a Pittsburgh team that they took three of four from in Atlanta back in late May.
Fried comes into this game having hit the walk-off single for the Braves in extras on Sunday afternoon. It was a rare moment for him as a pinch hitter but now he’s back on the mound as he’s starting Monday night’s game. On the season, Fried is 5-4 with a 4.16 ERA over 12 starts but where he looked dominant in May, he looked relatively mediocre in June. Over five June starts, Fried posted a 3.58 ERA, which quite a jump from the 1.50 ERA he had in four May starts. That being said, he has already won a game versus the Pirates this year when he went seven innings and only allowed a run and four hits.
Pirates Being the Pirates
At this point, Pittsburgh should be thanking their lucky stars for teams like Baltimore and Arizona as those are the only two teams with a worse record than them. Although they avoided getting swept by beating the Brewers on Sunday afternoon, the Pirates remain one of the worst teams in the league at 30-53. They had a decent start to the season, going 12-13 in April but they went a combined 17-37 in May and June, which has set them back 20 games behind first-place Milwaukee in the Central.
The 27-year-old De Jong has only made six starts thus far on the season, posting a 5.67 ERA over 28.2 frames. He has been inconsistent and unable to last more than five innings in any start so far. De Jong also struggles at home where his ERA bumps up to 6.14 over three starts. His last start was one of his worst but he was pitching at Coors Field where every pitcher seems to struggle due to the high altitude. It’s not all De Jong’s fault. Pittsburgh‘s entire pitching staff has been serviceable at best as they rank 23rd in runs allowed (5.04) and 22nd in opponents’ OPS (.742).
Pirates are 1-4 in their last 5 home games. Pirates are 1-4 in their last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter.
Braves are 4-1 in their last 5 games. Braves are 8-3 in their last 11 games vs. the NL Central.