Series Preview: Atlanta Braves @ New York Yankees (7/2-7/4)

Following an important series win against the Red Sox, the New York Yankees are staying in the Bronx to face the Atlanta Braves in a three-game set. The Braves may not be division rivals with the Bombers, but they come into town with an impressive 48-34 record. At the beginning of the season, the Yankees were fully expected to be a competitive team. On the other hand, according to FanGraphs, the Atlanta Braves had just a 38.6% chance of making the playoffs in 2018. The season is far from over, but they currently stand in first place with the Phillies trailing by three games. These two talented teams ought to make for some great baseball games this week. 

Game One: Monday, July 2 | First Pitch: 7:05 PM ET
Jonathan Loaisiga (2-0, 1.93 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (3-2, 2.68 ERA) 
The Yankees will send out Jonathan Loaisiga, a 23-year-old RHP, to make his fourth MLB start in game one of this series. He entered the rotation on June 15th, following Masahiro Tanaka’s hamstring injury. In a small sample size, we have seen what “Johnny Lasagna” is capable of. In his MLB debut, he went five shutout innings with six strikeouts, allowing just three hits. In his second start, he only made it through 3.2 innings, but rebounded in his last appearance where he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and pitched another shutout. 

Anibal Sanchez was assigned to the minor leagues at the beginning of the season but became an essential part of the Braves’ rotation in 2018. The 34-year-old joined Atlanta after six seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Sanchez was sidetracked with a hamstring injury in late April but returned in May and has made eight starts thus far. His last outing on June 26th ended after just 4.2 innings with discomfort in his right leg. Overall, Sanchez has gotten the job done this season and will be looking to continue to prove himself against the Bombers. 
Photo Credit: Brett Davis | USA Today Sports
Game Two: Tuesday, July 3 | First Pitch: 7:05 PM ET
Domingo German (2-4 5.32 ERA) vs. Sean Newcomb (8-2, 2.71 ERA) 
Yet another pitcher who entered the rotation due to injury, Domingo German needs to prove himself in order to stay in the rotation when Tanaka comes back, or the Yankees trade for a starter. German has been a hit-or-miss pitcher this season. In nine appearances as a starter, German has a high ERA OF 5.88. However, he has thrown a few good outings in between the less-impressive ones. German is just 25-years old with high potential–reminding some of Luis Severino from just a couple of years ago. 
Photo Credit: New York Yankees
Sean Newcomb has emerged as an impactful starter in the National League this year. Consistency is key for Newcomb, who has only allowed four runs or more in just three of his 16 starts. Braves manager Brian Snitker describes him as a pitcher “who is confident in what he’s doing and has faith in himself.” Newcomb’s self-confidence has allowed him to rebound from rough outings with ease. He might even find himself invited to the 2018 All-Star game if he continues to deliver quality starts. 

Game Three: Monday, July 4 | First Pitch: 1:05 PM ET
CC Sabathia (5-3, 3.02 ERA) vs. Julio Teheran (6-5, 4.21 ERA) 
The Yankees and Braves will be showcasing their Independence Day pride in red, white, and blue uniforms for the third and final game of this series. CC Sabathia takes the mound for the sixteenth time this season. CC continues to show the world that he is not quite ready to retire, giving his team quality starts when they need him most. In his last outing, he pitched seven spectacular innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts, propelling the Bombers to an 8-1 victory against the Red Sox. Hopefully CC will have a better Fourth of July outing in 2018 than last season, where he gave up four runs and three walks in just 2.2 innings against Toronto. 
Photo Credit: New York Yankees
Julio Teheran, 2x All-Star who has been with the Braves for the entirety of his career, has not had a stellar season. Teheran has been the Braves’ Opening Day starter five times, including this season, but has not proven to be the ace that Atlanta needs to make it in the postseason. He has seen a decrease in the velocity of his pitches as of late and has walked 41 batters compared to just 71 strikeouts. 

Players to watch:

Jonathan Loaisiga 
Jonathan Loasiga (pronounced Lo-AYE-siga) has quickly made his way up in the Yankees’ prospect ranks. He has done a fantastic job under immense pressure to propel the New York Yankees to three wins in as many tries. Loaisiga is just the 11th Nicaraguan pitcher to make it to the Majors. If he continues to pitch quality starts, there is a chance he could remain in the rotation for a while. 
Photo Credit: Lori M. Nichols
Aaron Hicks
Just days ago, many Yankee fans were calling for Aaron Hicks to be replaced by Clint Frazier, who has been stuck in the minors due to an influx of outfielders. Last night should have changed the minds of those fans, after Hicks mashed three home runs­–for a total combined distance of 1,171 feet–in last night’s 11-0 rout against Boston. Hicks is the first Yankees leadoff batter to accomplish this feat. Hicks is 7-for-26 with a .769 SLG in his last 7 games. 
Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski | Getty Images
Ronald Acuna Jr. 
Ranked’s number one prospect, Ronald Acuna Jr. made his Major League debut in April of this season. He played in just 29 games and batted .265 with five home runs and 13 RBIs before landing on the disabled list with a left-knee ACL sprain. The highly-touted 20-year-old Venezuelan returned to the majors on June 29th, eager to help his team stay in first place. In three games since his return, Acuna Jr. has had four hits, including a two-run homer, in an 11-4 win against the Cardinals. 

If the Yankees can continue the momentum built up in the Boston series, a three-game sweep or series win is not improbable. Despite a talented Braves lineup, the Bombers have proved that no team is too much to handle. 

Article By: Isabella Anton 


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