The Braves completed a sweep over the Miami Marlins on Sunday. The weekend series was filled with good pitching and better offensive performances from the Braves. The formula, for the Braves, seems to be score as many runs as possible so the bullpen can be taken out of the situation of trying to keep hold of a close lead. Since that won’t be the case all season, the Braves should build off the positive performances the team got from the bullpen, and offense, this weekend.
The series opened with the “Jose Urena” game. The infamous Marlins pitcher was facing off against Kevin Gausman, who has been struggling lately. Friday’s game didn’t help Gausman get back into form after getting tossed for throwing behind Urena. Gausman was tossed immediately, without prior warning. The tossing of Gausman gave Touki Toussaint, newly promoted, a chance to come on in relief. Toussaint tossed 4 innings in relief, surrendering only one run. Jerry Blevins, Dan Winkler, and Jacob Webb came on to shut the game out, giving up no runs in their innings of work. The game was out of hand, at that point, but the Braves bullpen shined in their opportunity.
Saturday, the second game of the series, was the Mike Soroka game. The 21-year-old stud threw seven innings and gave up no earned runs. Soroka has allowed 1 or fewer runs in all four of his starts this season. He is the first pitcher to accomplish this, since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. Soroka has looked like the ace of the staff since returning from injury, even with everything Max Fried has done this season. Only giving the bullpen six outs to get is a lot easier on them, too. It was Grant Dayton and A.J. Minter’s turn to shoulder the relief. Both completed their innings without any walks or runs.
Sunday, the series closer, was a different story for the Braves. In a slow, ugly, but greatly pitched game, the Braves got a stellar starting performance from Julio Teheran. Teheran pitched six innings of shutout baseball. Teheran left with the game with the lead after his strong performance. Dan Winkler and Jerry Blevins were able to hold the lead for the Braves, but Josh Tomlin could keep the lead. The Braves offense bailed Tomlin out after scoring in the 10th inning, and Luke Jackson came on to save the game to secure the sweep. The series closer was a game that shows a blown save in the box score but was a game that also had good performances from a bullpen that needed a good showing.
The Braves are on the road for a long road trip that started in Miami. In a series that could have been a struggle for the Braves to get themselves motivated, instead saw this team get a sweep that will be vital in the race to repeat as NL East champions. The Braves are going to be in a season-long fight with the Mets and Phillies, so getting sweeps over the Marlins, a division foe will always be important. The Braves will also need strong performances from the bullpen if they want to have a chance to compete in their division. This weekend was a positive start to that goal. If the Braves can build off the positives of the weekend, maybe the bullpen can start to find better performances on a more consistent basis. Once the Braves can figure out the bullpen, the division can be all theirs again.