Braves test for Yankees’ mettle in critical series

Yankees' Aaron Judge and Braves' Matt Olson

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The New York Yankees (60-58) head to Atlanta after their series loss in Miami for a tryst against the Braves (75-42). Their game will start at 7:20 PM ET at Truist Park. This is the first time these teams will meet this season.

When playing at home the Atlanta Braves record stands in 37-20 with 12 series won, 5 lost, and 2 split series this season. The Atlanta Braves hold the top position in most of the offensive stats such as .275 AVG, .344 OBP, .502 SLG, .846 OPS, and 225 HR. The Braves are first in runs average scoring 5.8 runs per game, and second in hits average with 9.4 per game. The Braves have kept going hard the whole season and the winning mindset has paid off with the best record in the majors, the privilege of 1st place on the power rankings, and the odds are in their favor to win it all.

On the other hand, the Yankees have not won any of their 11 of their last 12 series. Yankees manager, Aaron Boone said in the post-game interview after Sunday game: “For us, it’s about getting wins right now. We know we need to rack those up.” Therefore, the approach for the Yankees will be to keep on striving and proving they still are in the race for the playoff.

In the last 10 games, the Braves are 5-5 with a .314 batting average, a 4.87 ERA, outscoring the clubs they played against by 26 runs. The Yankees are 4-6 with a .263 batting average, a 5.00 ERA, and a -6 run differential.

Here are the already-announced pitchers to start each game:

Yankees vs. Braves, August 14, 2023

Clarke Schmidt’s statistics:

2023 Regular Season864.2324230115.01101.29
Career Regular Season13124.0358282185.11791.32
Source: MLB

Clarke Schmidt is, behind Gerrit Cole the best pitcher in the starting rotation. Proven by his 4-0 record in this second half, with 3.67 ERA in five games in which he allowed 21 H, 11 ER, 4 HR, 5 BB versus 23 SO, with a 0.96 WHIP and an outstanding 2.08 BAA.

Schmidt has a 5-1 record on the road (in ten games) with a 4.56 ERA in 49.1 IP, 51 H, 25 ER, 5 HR, 17 BB, 50 SO, .263 AVG, and 1.38 WHIP.

Regarding Schmidt’s performance against the Braves batters, his numbers display successful outings against this team’s lineup:

 Schmidt, Clarke430000002500000.180.3320.3580.40779.17.7
 Pillar, Kevin32000000000000.2410.2510.2710.39474.17.5
 Lopez, Nicky1100000050000000.4940.530.44589.38

Source: Baseballsavant

Max Fried’s basic statistics:

2023 Regular Season312.5077036.0371.06
Career Regular Season57263.061321150668.16541.16
Source: MLB

Max Fried will start for the Atlanta Braves in the series opener. The LHP will attempt to hold off the New York Yankees and redeem himself as he allowed four runs (no decision) in his most recent outing against the Pittsburg Pirates. The only time in his career he faced the Bronx Bombers gave up 1 run on 1 hit with 1 walk in 6.0 inning earning the win.

During the second half, Fried posted a 1-0 record (in two games started) with a 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and .237 AVG while striking out 12 in 10.0 innings and allowing 9 H and 4 ER. Besides these statistics, this 2023 season Max Fried’s home record is 4-2.

Source: Baseballsavant

The effectiveness of Max Fried’s 4-seamer along with his other pitch type, considered simultaneously with his low hard hit percentage (28.6%) and high swing and miss strikeout rate 28.1 Whiff%, makes him a hard pitcher to face.

Clarke Schmidt has to be meticulous with his pitching approach against the Braves due to the low 22.3 Whiff% he has and a much higher Hard hit percentage compared to Max Fried’s.

Here are the numbers of the active New York Yankees players that had the opportunity to face Max Fried at home plate before this game.

 Fried, Max24236001937.533.314.20.2610.3910.2940.2270.4120.285952.9
 Bader, Harrison761000457.135.7114.30.1670.1670.2240.1160.1340.19497.5-5
 Stanton, Giancarlo55300112030000.61.20.7470.4521.0770.625104.82
 Allen, Greg330000133.325000000.1440.3540.20792.45.5
 Judge, Aaron331000133.340000.3330.3330.2940.1540.1830.14590.6-4
 McKinney, Billy2200002100100000000
 LeMahieu, DJ110000000000000.1020.1090.09282.4-39
 Bauers, Jake331000000000.3330.3330.290.4250.5250.489.126

Source: Baseballsavant

Based on the expected Statcast data for the Yankee players against Max Fried, this matchup is expected to be highly challenging for the Yankees players due to the movement of Fried’s pitches arsenal. The usage of his 4-Seamer and 2-Seamer and the ground ball tendency. Players like Aaron Judge, Harrison Bader, and DJ LeMahieu could be the players that set the tone for the Yankees’ success.

Yankees vs. Braves, August 15

2023 Regular Season278.061413063.2561.88
Career Regular Season52363.811361200701.27651.19

The RHP Luis Severino keeps concerning the team as neither starting himself nor getting help in the 1st inning has helped him to perform the way he did before this season. Avoiding what seemed to be one of his weaknesses, the first inning (in which he holds the highest 13.85 ERA among all pitchers with at least 10 starts), in his last outing he started pitching in the second inning, but the White Sox attacked his pitches and scored 4 runs on 2.0 innings. Missing the pitch location was one of his mistakes in that game.

Severino’s 1-3 record is on the road (in five games) with a 9.43 ERA in 21.0 IP, 34 H, 22 ER, 7 HR, 9 BB, 19 SO, .366 AVG, and 2.05 WHIP.

Luis Severino will have to be very careful with his pitches and the pitch locations to avoid the success of the Braves batters. Mixing pitches to keep hitters off the timing of his deliveries could secure a solid outing for the Yankees since he has a decent expected batting average of .261 against this team.

The pitcher facing the Yankees lineup in that game for the Atlanta Braves is Bryce Elder, a Right-handed pitcher with versatile pitching technique whose approach on the mound is to dominate the hitters by mixing his arsenal.

Bryce Elder´s basics statistics:  

2023 Regular Season843.6423230131.0971.24
Career Regular Season1083.5033320185.01441.24
Source: MLB

In his second half, in 5 games started his record stands 1-2, establishing a 6.48 ERA in 25.0 IP, allowing 28 H, 22 ER, 4 HR, 8 BB against 17 K, 1.44 WHIP, and .280 AVG. In addition, his home record is 1-4 with a 3.95 ERA.

Bryce Elder has not faced any player on the Yankees lineup.

Source: Baseballsavant

As his Statcasts numbers show, Elder’s combination of sinker and slider displays his approach to support his outing on braking pitches tossed effectively in order to keep the hitters controlled, but the Yankees could capitalize on Elder’s deliveries the late struggles he’s had with his command and the success batters have had against him this second half.

Yankees vs. Braves, August 16, 2023

Randy Vasquez to start for the Yankees.

2023 Regular Season211.8943019.0121.05
Career Regular Season211.8943019.0121.05
Source: MLB

The rookie Yankee RHP will be the player in charge of the mound in the series finale against the Braves. Vasquez had three starts against contender teams like the San Diego Padres (loss), Chicago White Sox (win), and Baltimore Orioles (no decision); despite facing the AL East 1st Orioles back on July 5 at Yankee Stadium, at that time the Tampa Bay Rays were on the top of the division. Therefore, it is the first time Vasquez start a road game in front of the top MLB team and probably the most challenging outing of his young career.

Coming off a decent trip to the mound on Friday’s game against the Marlins in which he allowed 2 ER, 3 H within 3.2 innings, Randy Vasquez will have another opportunity to show compete at the highest level as he did in his previous task.

Both pitchers have similarly expected batting, wOBA, and slugging, but the base-on-balls frequency of Charlie Morton could open the door for the Yankees lineup to capitalize on the offensive behalf by combining good base running and clutch hitting. Also, Morton’s Barreled bated balls percentage is quite high due to the abundant usage of his 4-seamer, which represents another behavior on the Braves starter the Bronx Bombers should focus on and adapt to their hitting strategies.

On Randy Vasquez’s behalf, the low swing and miss strikeout rate (17.0%) is a stat that the Braves batters will definitely consider when facing him at the batters’ box. This same statistic favors Charlie Morton a lot since it represents the ability this pitcher has to retire batters without putting the ball on play in the direction of the fielders.

The pitcher in charge of starting the game for the Atlanta Braves in this matchup will be Charlie Morton. A right-handed pitcher known for his high-energy and aggressive pitching style on the mound. He typically throws a mix of pitches that includes a Fastball, Slider, Curveball, and Changeup.

Charlie Morton´s basics statistics:

2023 Regular Season11103.7123230128.21361.46
Career Regular Season1271114.0134634501925.218331.31

After a solid performance on past Friday’s game against the Mets in which he tossed 5.0 shutout innings of only 3 hits allowed, 4 strikeouts, and 7 bases on balls, Morton earned his 11th win of the season and will face the Yankees lineup for the time in his long career.   

During this second half of the season, his record stands in 1-1 (in three games started) with a 2.70 ERA in 10 IP, allowing 10 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 5 K, 1.10 WHIP, and a remarkable .263 AVG. His actual home record stands at 2-1.

Morton’s performance against the White Sox batters, his numbers display a successful outing against this team’s lineup.

According to those numbers, if Charlie Morton manages to keep the Marlins controlled with speed changes while mixing pitches to keep hitters off balance primarily using his unorthodox delivery to disrupt the timing of hitters, he could secure a win for the Yankees. Keeping an effective strategy against players like Yuli Gurriel, Luis Arraez, Joey Wendle, Jon Berti and Avisail Garcia will be a huge factor in a successful performance.

The matchup is a clear face-off between youth and potential vs experience and proven abilities as Morton has played in the big leagues since his debut in 2008 and this is the first season in MLB for Rany Vasquez. Besides how dominating or effective their outings will be, Baseball is a team sport, therefore contributions of the batting teammates will define the outcome despite the performances. This is the reason why the Braves seem favored due to their offensive power.

  • Aaron Judge

The Yankees Captain leads the Majors with his 64.1 Hard Hit% and 97.5 Exit velocity.

  • Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton is ranked 12th among all MLB batters in barreled batted balls per at bat with 10.5.

  • GleyberTorres

Torres leads the Yankees with his .269 AVG, 65 R, and 49 RBI. During the Second half, Torres’ .926 OPS is the highest in the team.

Atlanta Braves Players

  • Matt Olson

The National League home runs leader had his seventh multi-homer game of the season and the 20th of his career on Saturday’s second game. Olson’s 18.8 Barrel% is 2nd in the league and his .584 SLG is 4th.

  • Ronald Acuna, Jr.

Having a great season now that he is fully healthy. His .339 AVG ranks 4th in the league and is a legit base-running treat with his 55 stolen bases ranked 1st overall. He also leads the league with .421 OBP and .424 wOBA.

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