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On Tuesday night in South Florida, one of the marquee matchups on the Tuesday MLB schedule will take place between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara takes the mound against the Braves for the second straight time since returning from injury. While his bullpen let him down after a solid start last time against the Braves, Miami will hope that Alcantara can put them in a position to win this game late once again.
The Atlanta Braves enter Tuesday night’s action having split a doubleheader against the New York Mets on Monday. Atlanta won the first game of that doubleheader 9-8, with NL Cy Young favorite Spencer Strider striking out eight Mets along the way. The Braves then lost 5-3 in the second game of the twin billing, but the Braves will be happy to have taken two out of three on the road against their biggest competition in the NL East.
For this contest, the Braves will send Bryce Elder to the mound to start against Sandy Alcantara. Elder has been a diamond in the rough for the Braves so far this season, as he has posted a 2-0 record and an ERA of 2.17. His hit, walk, and home run numbers allowed on the season are very similar to those of Alcantara, but Elder has done a better job of not allowing those things to turn into quite as many runs. Atlanta will hope that trend continues on Tuesday night.
For the Braves, the recipe to win this game offensively will be to use their power bats to keep Alcantara from getting too comfortable on the mound. The Braves are fourth in Major League Baseball in home runs this season with 45 going into Tuesday, and they are one of just seven teams in the league to have scored 150 runs as a team so far. If they can be aggressive and get Alcantara out of the game early, the Braves could score a huge win.
Why would a win here be huge, you ask? Atlanta is currently at the top of the NL East standings, holding a three-game lead over the New York Mets and these Miami Marlins. A win in this game would all but guarantee that the Braves would still hold the lead in this division as the weekend draws closer.
The Miami Marlins are red hot of late, having won each of their last four games heading into this huge series opener against the Atlanta Braves. Miami swept the Chicago Cubs in their most recent three-game series, and beat the Braves in the final game of their last series just before the Chicago series. Here, the Braves will aim to pull closer to the Braves in the NL East standings behind the pitching of Sandy Alcantara.
So far this season, Alcantara has not lived up to the standards he set last year when he won the NL Cy Young unanimously. Alcantara is just 1-2 on the season with an ERA of 5.04, and he missed a couple of weeks due to injury as well. Here, he will look to claim his first win since his return, which would be huge for a Miami team looking to maintain their momentum and move up in the division race.
While Alcantara’s pitching is incredibly valuable to his team, the offense of the Marlins will be the big question mark in this contest. This season, the Marlins have scored just 99 runs as a team, putting them in 28th out of 30 MLB teams in that category. They join the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers as the only teams yet to hit the 100 run mark as a team so far this season, which could put them at a real disadvantage against the potent Braves lineup.
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