Ronald Acuña is on fire

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Ronald Acuña got a late start to the season as the Braves manipulated his service time and then got an unscheduled break in the middle of the season after being sidelined with an injury. That might have kept him from finding a groove for a time, but he’s certainly found it now. Indeed, the young man is on fire.

Acuna hit a leadoff homer against the Marlins’ Pablo Lopez in this afternoon’s game at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. The opposite-field blast was Acuña’s third leadoff homer of the season and the second he has hit within the past three days. He’s on an overall home run tear too, as he has homered in each of the Braves’ past three games. Nine of his 16 homers this season have come since moving to the leadoff slot on July 20.

For the year — as of this moment, as the game is still going on — Acuña is hitting .273/.332/.534. He’s on a 22-homer pace even though he’s going to play in not many more than 100 games this year. And he’s still just 20 years old.

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UPDATE: Acuña just doubled in two more runs, giving the Braves a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning. Make that batting line .276/.335/.539. Right after that Ozzie Albies knocked in two more. It’s a rout.

Morton, Braves reach $20 million, 1-year deal for 2023

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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves have reached a deal with starting pitcher Charlie Morton on a $20 million, one-year contract for 2023 with a $20 million club option for 2024 that does not include a buyout.

Morton, 38, is 9-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 30 starts this season. The right-hander went 14-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 33 starts to help the club win the World Series last year. The two-time All-Star has compiled a 23-12 record and a 3.80 ERA with Atlanta since the start of last season, and his 416 strikeouts are third-most in the NL.

The deal was reached Friday. His contract this season is $20 million.

Morton’s 200 strikeouts this season are fifth-most in the NL, and he is one of just three pitchers in Atlanta franchise history to log at least 200 strikeouts in multiple seasons. Hall of Famers John Smoltz (five seasons) and Phil Niekro (three seasons) are the only others to do so. Morton fanned Wil Myers on April 14 earlier this season for the 1,500th strikeout of his career.

Originally drafted by Atlanta in the third round of 2002 out of Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut, Morton made his major league debut with the Braves in 2008.

Morton was dealt to Pittsburgh the following year in a trade for outfielder Nate McLouth and spent seven seasons with the Pirates. He moved to Philadelphia for the 2016 season before joining Houston in 2017. He then played two years with Tampa Bay starting in 2019.