After back-to-back series against the Miami Marlins and New York Mets before taking two of three games in Baltimore, the Detroit Tigers will return to interleague matchups with the NL East as they head to the ATL to take on the Braves.
The Detroit Tigers fared poorly in their interleague contests against the Marlins and Mets, losing five of six games interleave games played. It won’t get any easier with the Braves, who sit at 30-26, three games back of first-place Philadelphia after winning the division in 2018.
Atlanta boasts a number of star position players, most of them young, that Tigers fans don’t normally see first hand due to their presence in the National League. These players include Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman.
The 21-year-old Acuńa Jr. owns 11 home runs and 31 RBI, while Albies and Swanson possess seven and 10, respectively. Freeman leads the Braves offense with 13 home runs and a .308 BA.
Despite the presence of young superstars in Acuña Jr. and Albies, the name stealing the show is recently recalled 22-year-old rookie Austin Riley. Through just 56 big league at-bats, Riley has already collected seven home runs and 20 RBI to go along with a .375 batting average.
Much like the Houston Astros, who played in Detroit during the last homestand, the Braves also enter this series as a potential trade partner moving forward. The team has been connected to Nicholas Castellanos in the past, and could also use Shane Greene to help a struggling bullpen.
And by struggling bullpen, I mean really struggling bullpen. The Braves sit at 19th in baseball with a 4.46 bullpen ERA and are in great need of bullpen help in a highly competitive National League East.
This series features a pair of premium pitching matchups, as Detroit Tigers’ star rookie Spencer Turnbull (2.97 ERA) will face Mike Foltynewicz (2.85 ERA in 31 starts last season) on Friday night, and Matt Boyd will face Braves ace Julio Teheran in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers will feel confident sending two of their best starters to the mound this weekend, but a young and powerful Braves offense with packed with talent at the plate will pose a tough test, and a weak Detroit offense may struggle keeping up.
Additionally, a Tigers’ offense that still remains without an identity and will need strong performances against some of the Braves best starters if the Tigers aim for success against another National League East foe.
First pitch between the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves is set for 7:20 pm Friday night from SunTrust Park in Atlanta.