Previewing the four game series between the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves.
While fans in Boston and Atlanta have been watching their respective NBA teams locked in a tight playoff battle, the baseball teams from those cities will meet for a series of their own.
The Boston Red Sox (9-9) take on the Atlanta Braves (4-14) in a rare four-game series that is split between two locations. It’s similar to the format of a payoff series in that regard, only in this case there is the potential for a tie and both teams get to advance to the next portion of their schedule regardless of the outcome.
The series begins on Monday with a pair of games in Atlanta before shifting to Boston on Wednesday for two more. The Red Sox and Braves had a similar home-and-home series last season that resulted in a split, with each team winning one game in the other’s ballpark.
- Atlanta has the lowest winning percentage (.222) in the majors and second worst run differential (-31). They are already 10 games back of the division leading Washington Nationals in the NL East.
- Boston leads the American League in runs (90) and batting average (.277), while ranking second in OPS (.767). Unfortunately they also have the league’s second worst pitching staff, with a collective 4.75 ERA. That explains why they enter this series with a .500 record and a run differential of zero. The pitching is much more likely to improve than the offense is to drastically regress, so better days are bound to be ahead for the Red Sox.
- David Ortiz will be out of the lineup on Monday with the game being played in an NL ballpark without the benefit of a DH, but there is a chance he will play first base on Tuesday.
- Hanley Ramirez is also getting a day off on Monday, which means either he or Ortiz will end up with two consecutive days off. Presumably neither will be asked to play a different position and obviously they can’t both play first base. Expec both to be in the lineup at the same time when the series shifts back to Boston.
- Since 2003, the Red Sox are 47-23 in NL ballparks when Ortiz starts at first base, compared to 22-28 when he sits.
Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia
2016 (17 games): .321/.361/.449, 1 HR, 6 RBI
Career vs Braves (21 games): .288/.348/.375, 0 HR, 9 RBI
Pedroia enters the series with four straight multi-hit games and has reached base safely at least once in all but one game that he’s started this season. He has a career .336 average and .895 OPS in 147 interleague games, so we can expect his recent success to continue with the Red Sox facing an opponent from the senior circuit.
Braves: Freddie Freeman
2016 (17 games): .177/.311/.569, 1 HR, 5 RBI
Career vs Red Sox (10 games): .237/.326/.368, 0 HR, 3 RBI
One reason the Braves have the NL’s most anemic offense is because their best hitter has yet to get it going at the plate this season. Freeman is a career .282 hitter with an .826 OPS, so we can expect him to bounce back at some point. Part of the problem is that he has very little help around him in the lineup, so opposing pitchers have little incentive to give him anything decent to swing at. He’s also been the victim of unfortunate luck on balls put in play, with a .244 BABIP that compares quite unfavorably to his .334 career mark.