The Braves added depth with their recent series of trades, and they’re surely going to need it over the next few weeks.
They will have more doubleheaders (two) than days off (one) during that stretch.
Beginning with Thursday’s game against the Mets in New York, the Braves will play 26 games in 25 days, including 22 games in the final 20 days of that period.
The only off day during the rugged stretch is Monday, but that will be offset by a doubleheader the next day at Washington – the first of two doubleheaders within a week’s time. The second comes Aug. 13 at SunTrust Park vs. the Miami Marlins, with one of those games being the makeup of Wednesday night’s rainout.
Braves manager Brian Snitker was rooting hard for Wednesday’s game to be played because of the schedule ramifications of a rainout. “We really need to play this game, I think, and not get any more backed up,” he said about two hours before the scheduled start. “There just are a lot, a lot, of games (coming up).” Alas, Wednesday’s game was rained out after a 1 ½-hour wait.
The Braves enter this 26-games-in-25-days test a mere half-game out of first place in the National League East and with the momentum of three consecutive wins. However, before that modest streak, they had lost 13 of their previous 18 games. They had a losing record in July (10-13) and have a .500 record since May 23 (28-28).
Still, the Braves’ proximity to first place in the division and their infusion of reinforcements from trade-deadline deals seem to have bolstered the team’s outlook despite the tough stretch ahead.
In this week’s trades, the Braves acquired a veteran reliever (Brad Brach), a right-handed power-hitting outfielder (Adam Duvall) and a starting pitcher (Kevin Gausman). Last week, they added another veteran reliever (Jonny Venters).
“Any point when you’re able to improve your team, it means a lot,” shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “Everyone feels that energy that we are getting better. I think (it’s) the combination of getting better from some of the trades and guys just continuing to develop as players and growing and jelling together as a unit.
“We’re just focused on playing our best ball, and if we do that, we know down the road we’ll be in the right spot.”
One way the Braves will try to navigate the schedule is by using a sixth starting pitcher, not just to cover the doubleheaders but to allow extra days of rest for members of the five-man rotation to try to keep them strong for September and perhaps beyond. For example, Mike Foltynewicz could work one game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Nationals on a regular four days’ rest, but Snitker plans to use someone else (likely Max Fried) and give Foltynewicz an extra day.
Particular care also is being taken with Sean Newcomb after his 134-pitch performance in a no-hit bid Sunday. By his next start in one game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Newcomb will have had eight days’ rest – a luxury afforded by adding Gausman to the rotation and flip-flopping Julio Teheran’s and Newcomb’s next turns.
Gausman, obtained from Baltimore, is scheduled to make his first start for the Braves on Saturday against the Mets.
Wednesday’s rainout was the fifth since SunTrust Park opened last year and the third this season. The April 22 rainout against the Mets was made up in a May 28 doubleheader, and the May 17 rainout vs. the Cubs will be made up in an Aug. 30 single game.