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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Atlanta Braves

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The Brewers hope to close out the month of July strong against a new-look Atlanta squad that was very busy on deadline day

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

We waited until after the trade deadline passed to write up this series preview, and it’s a good thing we did.

Both the Brewers and the Braves were active on Deadline Day, and even though Atlanta comes into the weekend at under .500, they’re still just 4 games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East — close enough to make some moves and hope for the best, even with their biggest star out for the season.

The Lineup

Since the last time we saw Atlanta, they lost Ronald Acuña, Jr. for the rest of the year with a torn ACL. It seemed like an injury that could be catastrophic to the team’s postseason changes — he was leading the team with 4.3 fWAR in just 82 games at the time, hitting .283/.394/.596 with 24 home runs and looking like he might be an NL MVP candidate.

They’ve managed to tread water since then, though, going 7-8 since the injury, including winning a 5-game series against the Mets this week to stay in the division race.

Now Atlanta looks like it may have rebuilt its outfield for the rest of the season, acquiring Eddie Rosario — a Brewers target this past offseason — and Jorge Soler in separate deals with Cleveland and Kansas City, respectively today. They also added Adam Duvall from Miami this afternoon and Joc Pederson from the Cubs ahead of deadline day.

Oh, they also won the sweepstakes for Pittsburgh closer Richard Rodriguez.

That’s a lot of new faces that may not all get to Atlanta before Saturday or Sunday, so the Brewers may find themselves with an early leg up in the series — especially since Eduardo Escobar is in town.

In terms of guys who were actually Braves the last time we saw them, Ozzie Albies comes into the weekend always a thorn in the side of the Brewers and is hitting .261/.321/.492 on the year with 30 doubles already to go with 17 home runs, 5 triples and 13 steals. Reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman has continued that momentum by hitting .288/.391/.507 with 23 home runs and 14 doubles so far, and Austin Riley has also become an intimidating bat in the Atlanta lineup with a .290/.370/.521 line with 21 home runs and 18 doubles.

The Probable Pitchers

Friday, 6:20 p.m. CDT - Corbin Burnes vs. Touki Toussaint

Toussaint is making just his third start of the year after missing much of the season due to a shoulder injury he suffered at the end of March. He’s made up for lost time, pitching very well in his first two outings, racking up 15 strikeouts against just two walks in 13.2 total innings and allowing just two runs. The 25-year-old has been a much-hyped prospect for years, but has struggled to be consistent in his first 40 big league outings, covering 108.2 innings in parts of four seasons.

Saturday, 6:20 p.m. CDT - Brandon Woodruff vs. Kyle Muller

Muller is another young arm that has impressed in limited action so far this year for Atlanta. The rookie will be make his 6th start and 7th appearance overall, having thrown just 24.2 innings to this point. He’s struck out 26 and walked 13 in that time, but has been able to put up a 2.55 ERA/3.16 FIP to this point. He’s leaned heavily on his 94 mph fastball and 87 mph slider to this point, with those two making up 34 of his pitches thrown this year.

Sunday, 12:20 p.m. CDT - Brett Anderson vs. Charlie Morton

At 37 years old, Morton is still slinging fastballs at 95 mph and still packs a great curveball. That combination has led him to a whiff rate that’s in the top 30% in the league and a barrel percentage that’s better than everyone but 15% of pitchers in baseball. On a Braves team that’s been marred by injuries, he’s been one of the few consistent presences this year, putting up a 3.72 ERA (but a 3.48 FIP) in 21 starts.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Statcast