The Atlanta Braves will send veteran Dallas Keuchel to the mound for their final home game of the regular season on Sunday when they host the San Francisco Giants.
Keuchel (8-6, 3.63) will be opposed by San Francisco’s Logan Webb (1-2, 6.51). The Braves have won the first two games of the series.
Atlanta (96-60) is 50-30 at home and has won three straight. San Francisco (74-81) has dropped three in a row.
The Braves still have a mathematical chance of catching the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the National League. But Los Angeles (99-56) would win the tiebreaker if the clubs finish with the same record, based on beating the Braves in four of six meetings during the season.
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said there will be a balance between giving his players enough rest to stay sharp and helping them reach numerical goals before the postseason starts.
“Guys still have some things they are chasing, and we still want to go out and win every game we can,” Snitker said. “But there are a few guys I’d like to back off the throttle with a little bit and give them a blow. I’ve got to pick and choose when to do that and still play them enough to keep them going.”
Ronald Acuna Jr. needs three more stolen bases to reach 40, which would make him only the fifth major leaguer to get 40 homers and 40 steals in the same season.
Also, Acuna scored one run on Saturday, giving him 127 and leaving him four short of matching Dale Murphy’s modern-era franchise record of 131 set in 1983.
Freddie Freeman needs two homers and Josh Donaldson needs three to reach 40 and join Acuna (41) to become the second trio of teammates to reach that milestone. Freeman did not play Saturday, and Donaldson is expected to get Sunday off.
Keuchel will be one of the three starters the Braves will use in the playoffs.
The 2015 Cy Young Award winner had his five-game winning streak broken in his last start on Sept. 17 when he was beaten by the Philadelphia Phillies. Keuchel allowed five runs in five innings of that start and was victimized by a pair of home runs. Otherwise the veteran has been a stabilizing force for the young Atlanta pitching staff.
Webb, 22, was the team’s fourth-round draft choice in 2014. He was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Aug. 17 and will be making his seventh start. This will be his first appearance against the Braves.
Webb’s last three starts have not been good, going 0-2 with a 10.22 ERA. He gave up a career-high eight runs, seven earned, in 2 2/3 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 5. In his most recent start on Sept. 17 at Boston, Webb pitched five innings and allowed three runs on three hits, with four walks and three strikeouts.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who has announced that he is retiring at the end of the season, said he is not tempted to apply for the vacancy with the San Diego Padres. Bochy managed there for 12 years and still lives in San Diego.
“I’m not even going there,” Bochy said. “I’m concentrating on right now and doing what I’m supposed to do.”
–Field Level Media