Tonight, Charlie Morton goes up against Patrick Corbin. Given last night’s result, the respective records of the two teams, and the fact that Patrick Corbin has been effectively the worst regular starting pitcher in the major leagues over the past several years, this seems like a game that the Braves ought not to lose.
Then again, the Nationals are playing for pride, whereas for the Braves, this game is more of an exhibition game: while a win would be helpful in the Braves’ race to secure the best record in baseball and ensure home field advantage throughout the playoffs, for the most part, Brian Snitker is managing not for tonight, but for a couple of weeks from now.
Patrick Corbin’s last couple starts have been pretty good, as he went 6+ innings and allowed one or two runs, two starts in a row; the previous two starts, of course, he gave up six runs in one and eight runs in the other. Since the Washington Nationals hoisted the flag and won the 2019 World Series, Corbin has a 5.57 ERA in 561 innings. But flags fly forever.
The Braves have done damage no matter who has been on the mound, but they especially like hitting lefties. They have a .356 wOBA (123 wRC+) versus righties – yes, that’s the best in baseball – but against lefties, it’s .370 and 132. Obviously, we all know about Ozzie’s splits, but Riley, Ozuna, and Murphy have all hit southpaws better than northpaws, too. (Amazingly, Ronald Acuña has hit righties a bit better than lefties this year; for his career, his numbers are virtually identical against lefties and righties. He has no weaknesses.)
Kevin Pillar, in particular, loves it when the Braves face a lefty, because that means he gets to start. By WAR, he’s basically been replacement-level, but he’s had some truly wonderful moments, and I think he’s achieved Folk Hero status among the Braves faithful.
On any given day, any team can beat any other team. As I said before, the one thing we mustn’t do is take these games for granted. The Nationals are young, and their players are not particularly good yet; some of them may never achieve greatness. But they’re not a bad team. I’d love to see another crooked number early, like we had last night, and see the team earn another easy win.