A pair of promising rookie right-handers will oppose each other on Friday when the Atlanta Braves host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of a four-game series.
The Braves took the series opener 3-1 on Thursday and have won eight in a row and 12 of their last 16. Pittsburgh has lost three straight.
“We feel good,” Atlanta catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “We’re having fun, cracking jokes, smiling all the time. A lot of that has to do with Snit (manager Brian Snitker) and the coaches keeping us up all the time.”
Atlanta sends Spencer Strider (1-2, 2.76 ERA) to the mound to face Pittsburgh’s Roansy Contreras (1-0, 1.93).
Contreras will make his fourth start since joining the starting rotation. He worked 5 2/3 innings in his last start against Arizona on June 4, allowing one unearned run on four hits and two walks and setting a career high with eight strikeouts.
Contreras received no decision in a game the Pirates won 2-1 on a walk-off. He has allowed three runs in 15 2/3 innings in his previous three starts.
“Ro was really good,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said “He executed the entire game. … He was really good. He was consistent. He was in the zone. He was composed.”
Contreras has never faced the Braves. He is not related to Atlanta catcher William Contreras.
The hard-throwing, mustachioed Strider has successfully served many roles this season; he most recently moved into the rotation as the fifth starter.
“He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him,” Snitker said. “I’ve been so impressed with this young man. I really like his demeanor on the mound. He slows the game down. He’s got confidence in himself.”
This will be Strider’s 14th appearance and third start. He has allowed six runs (four earned) in 8 1/3 innings as a starter. In his most recent start, on June 4 at Colorado, Strider threw a career-high 87 pitches and gave up one run over four-plus innings.
“We were hoping to get four out of him and he went into the fifth, which is really, really good,” Snitker said. “He broke his changeup out and that was a really good pitch. It was a good job by Travis (d’Arnaud) and making that a big part” of the pitch selection.
Strider has never faced the Pirates.
Pittsburgh rookie right fielder Jack Suwinski hit another home run on Thursday — his eighth of the season. He is tied with Houston’s Jeremy Pena for the most by a rookie in the major leagues and is tied with Bryan Reynolds for the team lead. Suwinski extended his hitting streak to eight games and is batting .387 (12-for-31) during that stretch.
Atlanta left fielder Adam Duvall continues to show life at the plate, going 1-for-3 with an RBI. The veteran has hits in four straight games, going 7-for-16 with two homers during that stretch. Duvall, whose average was .174 on May 3, raised it to .207.
“Adam’s continuing to swing the bat really well,” Snitker said. “It’s great if he gets going. We know the damage that he can do. That would be huge for us.”
–Field Level Media