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New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves: Series Preview

The Yankees head to Atlanta to face a Braves offense that has powered their way to the best record in baseball.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game One Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Yankees continue their southeast road trip this week against the MLB-best Braves in the ATL. The Braves offense comes into this series leading the league in runs scored, batting average, and OPS. They are a powerhouse led by the superstar trio of Ronald Acuña Jr, Austin Riley, and Matt Olson — All three of whom were NL All Stars this season, but their most impressive stat may be that each player has not missed a single game for their team this season.

The same cannot be said for a Yankees team that has been marred by injuries to their rotation, on top of getting inconsistent offensive production throughout the season. Following a brutal Marlins series, the Yankees are treading water, which is not exactly the way you want to come into a matchup against the best team in Major League Baseball.

Monday: Clarke Schmidt vs. Max Fried (7:20 pm ET)

I sound like a broken record when highlighting how consistent Clarke Schmidt has been for the Yankees this season. He has given the Yankees five innings pitched surrendering three runs or less in 15 of his 23 starts this season, including his last eight outings. Schmidt was expected to be a fourth or fifth starter his season for the Yankees, but injuries have thrust him into the second spot in this rotation. It has become imperative that the Yankees win ballgames when Schmidt is on the mound.

Max Fried was a runner-up for the NL Cy Young award last season but has missed significant time this season due to a left forearm strain. He returned to the rotation on August 4th after nearly three months on the IL. Fried pitched six scoreless innings in his return, surrendering only three hits and no runs against the Cubs. He didn’t fare as well against the Pirates in his last start, only making it through four innings while giving up four runs. The Yankees offense will be hoping that Fried hasn’t regained his Cy Young form as he continues to work his way back.

Tuesday: Luis Severino vs. Bryce Elder (7:20 pm ET)

Turns out that the first inning wasn’t the only problematic inning for Luis Severino. One inning by Ian Hamilton to start the game in front of Severino in his last outing wasn’t enough to mask the continuous problems facing the right-hander. In 14 appearances this season Severino has an 8.06 ERA. He has given up 21 runs in his last 15 innings pitched, including six home runs. The Yankees have been looking for ways to remove him from the rotation, but consistent injuries to other starters have forced them to keep running Severino out there. The Yankees are looking to get back into a Wild Card spot, but an automatic loss every five games is a tough way to get back into the playoff picture.

Bryce Elder rode a torrid pace to start the season, which saw him post a 1.72 ERA in May, into an NL All-Star selection. However, Elder has struggled at times since then, particularly in July and August as batters are hitting .289 against him while posting a nearly seven ERA over that span. This could be a product of a market correction or the league catching up to the young right-hander, who is in his first full season in the big leagues. Get your popcorn ready for this one, it could be a slugfest.

Wednesday: Randy Vásquez vs. Charlie Morton (7:20 pm ET)

Randy Vásquez has done everything the Yankees have asked of him and has done it well this season. Mostly a fill-in for the rotation, Vásquez has given the Yankees quality innings over his four appearances in the big leagues. The Yankees deployed an opener in front of Vásquez in Miami this past weekend and it will interesting to see if the Yankees use this strategy against the Braves on Wednesday. Vásquez followed two innings by Ian Hamilton with 3.2 IP and two runs allowed in a game where the Yankees offense came alive early. Vásquez is trying to help the Yankees stay within the playoff race while also auditioning for what could be a larger role with the Yankees next season.

Charlie Morton has struggled lately but still boasts a solid 3.71 ERA for the season. In his last outing against the Mets, he issued a career-high seven walks but was able to keep the Mets’ offense scoreless through five innings. Over his last five starts, Morton has surrendered 22 free passes in 24.2 IP. Not surprisingly, his ERA is 5.84 in those starts. Morton has given opposing teams opportunities to drive in runs recently, so the Yankees’ offense will look to take advantage, something they have struggled with for most of the season.

There are avenues for the Yankees to take advantage of the Braves’ starting pitchers not throwing their best ball right now, but the bigger concern is the Yankees staff trying to keep the Braves offense at bay this series.