The last place Atlanta Braves test their luck against the Chicago White Sox this weekend in Chicago. The Braves are just looking ahead to the All-Star Break where they can take a breath and regroup for the second-half. There isn’t much in it for them though, but there is the element of respectability and pride which means something to some players. This isn’t the Chipper Jones’ Braves, it’s a team stuck in flux without a paddle to get out of the choppy waves. The Braves really rose to the occasion last night, we will give them that much, they are fighting and not giving up with what they have to work with.
Atlanta jumped out to a 2 run lead and ultimately rode the lead all the way to the 8th inning. The Cubs burst the Braves bubble and took a 3-2 lead, but it didn’t last long. The resilient Braves came back and delivered a solo shot by Nick Markakis. If anything, it helps his trade value, as the Braves would be smart to dump him on somebody else. I’m not so sure the Braves could get anything of value out of him, so it may be a lose-lose situation despite his heroics last night. Markakis has hit just .256 with 5 HRs this season. He knocked only 3 balls out of the yard a year ago. The game is currently in extras as I write this article.
The Markakis deal is just one bad move by the Braves in recent memory. The Braves have solid fan support in Atlanta, but they haven’t had anything to get up about lately. When you’re 28-57, yeah, it’s about time for people to look forward to football season and the Falcons. The Braves turn to the other team in Chicago for the weekend, the White Sox. Chris Sale will be greeting them on the mound tonight. We’ll see if the Braves can turn last night’s effort into another solid effort on Friday night.
Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago White Sox
Matt Wisler (3-8, 4.16 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (14-2, 2.92 ERA)
Sale has been dissecting hitters in 2016 again, staking his claim in another season as one the best pitcher in baseball. He is one of the best, but the best is a debatable topic. Sale signed a $32.5 million extension in 2013, a contract which will bring him to next season. It’s going to be interesting where this goes with him, because you know there is going to be a team out there who is waiting to back the Brinks truck up in his driveway. He has shown some signs of wear this season, as he’s allowed at least 4 runs in four of his last ten games. We have seen Sale pitching better than that in the past. Nevertheless, he comes in against the Braves with a solid 2.92 ERA, and a 2.86 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP in his last three starts. Sale has been getting hurt with the long ball, but the Braves don’t have the best talent to take advantage of that fact.
Matt Wisler has been adequate, posting a 4.16 ERA and 1.26 on the season. Nothing wrong with that for Wisler, who is in his second season for the Braves. Atlanta really needs somebody to step up and become an ace, and while Wisler is not up to snuff with regards to being an ace, he has been okay. He’s been putting far too many on the base pads lately though, as you can see from his WHIP in the last three games, a mark of 1.61. I suspect that Sale shuts the Braves down tonight, after they went toe-to-toe with the Cubs last night. A game which is still going on past midnight. Sale gets a ERA booster tonight against this roster, and the White Sox roll to a comfortable victory on Friday night.
PICK: WHITE SOX -1.5 (-125)