A long, four-game series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves will come to an end Sunday. The Braves have won two of the first three games but only outscored Arizona 10-8, so the series finale figures to be a good one.
With wins the past two days, the Braves are trying to put their recent four-game losing streak behind them. Those two wins have brought Atlanta back to .500 at 20-20 on the season but still three games off the pace in the NL East. With six games against the Cardinals and Brewers coming up this week, the Braves would love to head home after their road trip with a winning record.
Meanwhile, with losses the past two days, the Diamondbacks have now dropped five of their last seven games. They are just three games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, but they know they have to stay close to Los Angeles at all costs, putting a little pressure on them to win Sunday and split the series.
Chance for Redemption
Zack Godley will start for Arizona on Sunday. He’s making a return to the rotation after getting bounced to the bullpen at the end of April. In his six starts and two relief outings, Godley has registered a 7.49 ERA, a stark contrast to his track record. He pitched a scoreless inning of relief earlier this week against the Rays, but he’s been knocked around a lot this season, so this is his chance to start turning things around.
Of course, it won’t be easy to do that against the Braves. Freddie Freeman is 4 for 10 with two extra-base hits against Godley in his career. Nick Markakis and former Diamondbacks outfielder Ender Inciarte are both 5 for 12 against him, so Godley has been hurt by Atlanta’s veterans. He’ll also have to deal with some of the younger Braves in the lineup, as well as Josh Donaldson, who’s 3 for 6 against Godley in his career.
Starting for Atlanta on Sunday will be lefty Max Fried, who could be in the midst of a breakout season. After starting the year in the bullpen, Fried has excelled since moving into the starting rotation. His only bad start was his last time out when he gave up three runs to the Dodgers in the first inning and left in the second inning after getting hit on his pitching hand by a come-backer. However, the Braves have remained optimistic all week that he’ll be able to make Sunday’s start.
Of course, there could be some level of concern about Fried, in part because the Diamondbacks can hit. David Peralta and Wilmer Flores continue to be red-hot right now, even if the rest of Arizona’s hitters are mired in a slump. But the Diamondbacks have enough quality right-handed hitters who may be able to wake up against a lefty.
Handling the Heat
Despite some concerns about Fried’s hand, he’s still more reliable than Godley right now. If he’s not right, the Braves may be able to spot it early and get him out of the game. Meanwhile, the way Godley has pitched this year, it’s only a matter of time until Atlanta’s bats get to him. Bet on the Braves beating the Diamondbacks on Sunday.