Welcome back Nick Markakis! On a night in which the Braves veteran outfielder was 0-3 at the plate, he walloped the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Braves the 3-1 series win.
After opting out the beginning of the 2020 season, Nick Markakis decided to come back. Markakis had to go through the proper protocols established by the Braves and Major League Baseball, but he finally got his first taste of the 2020 action as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning of yesterdays 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays.
Today he got his first start of the season in the series clincher against the Blue Jays. When it mattered most, Markakis stepped up. After Marcell Ozuna flied out to left field, Markakis took Font’s curveball deep to the Chop House in right field.
Markakis provides yet another solid platoon outfielder for Skipper Brian Snitker. He and Tyler Flowers bring a great locker room presence with the young guys and are valued highly among the rest of the team .
The Braves are now 9-5 on the season and just finished a 7-2 home stand. Tomorrow, they are on the road in their first series against Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Kyle Wright, 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA, steps on the mound for Atlanta to take on Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez, 0-0 with a 12.00 ERA.
But the joys of the season did come at a cost as earlier in the week, in the final game against Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets, the Braves lost young Ace Mike Soroka to a torn right Achilles. With a lot of questions surrounding the starting rotation at the beginning of the year being unanswered, the loss of Soroka places a huge question mark on the rotation.
As we speak, the Braves have Max Fried, last year’s NL win leader, Touki Toussaint, Sean Newcomb, and eventually Cole Hamels. Cole Hamels was put on the 45 day IL list at the beginning of the year, but is set to return sometime around September. This means Snitker and pitching coach Rick Kranitz have a lot on their hands with solidifying the back end of that rotation.
The issue here is Newcomb and Toussaint have been known to struggle in the past. Both guys are coming off a couple solid starts, which bodes well for the team, but the team needs them now more than ever. The Braves will be hoping a bullpen arm can step into a starter’s role or hoping that Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Ian Anderson, or another pitching prospect in their deep farm system can step up.
The Braves are off to an impressive start here in 2020. They have yet to lose a series heading into the Philadelphia series. If they want to win the NL East again, they need to capitalize on this hot start.
Alex Anthopoulos built this Braves roster into a solid unit that can compete for world series title. But the depth of this team is being tested and we can only wait and see how they finish.