The Braves didn’t earn any expensive names on the trade deadline, but the deals the team struck helped Atlanta return in the National League East race.
The Braves will try to get closer to a start on Tuesday when they host the opening game of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, who have their own playoff concerns. The two clubs, who met in the NL uncivilized card series a year ago, split over four games in Cincinnati in June.
Atlanta begins the series with two games behind the No. 1 Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. Cincinnati is at 5 games 1/2 behind first place Milwaukee Brewers at NL Central and also in the mix for the second NL uncivilized card.
In a series of moves at the deadline, most of them involving players the club didn’t see as lengthy-term solutions, Braves managed to get outsiders Jock Pederson, Jorge Soler, Adam Duval, Eddie Rosario and loyalist Richard Rodriguez. Other than Rosario, who is listed as injured, they have each made an impact and helped the Braves go 6-2 since July 31.
“Our unused additions did a really pleasing job,” Atalanta coach Brian Sneeker said. “They all came here and contributed. (General Manager) Alex Anthopoulos and his team have done a distinguished job with the influx of these guys. I think it’s the right time of year to start working, and a lot of unused guys have added to that.”
The Braves are expected to activate catcher Travis Darno from the injured list on Tuesday. He has been out since May 2 following surgery to repair the ligaments in his left thumb.
“Once we get Travis back, we’re going to do a pleasing eighth hit,” Snicker said. “I think it would be a pleasing lineup.”
The Reds were on alert, too. Their five-game winning streak collapsed on Monday when they lost 9-3 to host Cleveland Indians in a make-up match.
The hill opponents in the series opener will be Atlanta’s Drew Smiley (7-3, 4.50 ERA) against Cincinnati right-winger Sonny Gray (4-6, 4.44).
Smyly holds a five-game winning streak in the game; His most recent loss came May 26 in Boston. However, the 32-year-old veteran has only lasted four rounds in each of his final three rounds, putting more pressure on the Bulls to cover more ground. In his final start, against the St. Lewis Cardinals on Wednesday, allowed three rounds on six strokes.
Smyly is 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in four career games, three starts, against Cincinnati. He beat the Reds 3-2 on June 25 when he allowed one run in six rounds.
Gray won his most recent start on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Pirates when he threw five runs and allowed four. He has been inconsistent at five times during July, going 2-2 with a 5.88 ERA and twice making less than five rounds.
Gray is looking for his first triumph over Atlanta. In four careers start vs. The Braves, most recent in 2019, are 0-2 with a 3.16 ERA.
The Reds got a boost on Sunday when Lucas Sims returned from the twisted right elbow that had kept him sidelined since late June. He made a two-stroke goalless run on Monday, allowing for one hit and one walk.
“He’s in pleasing health,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “It was a pleasing opportunity to get him on tour.”
–Field Media Level