Atlanta Braves roster and schedule for 2020 season

Braves roster and schedule
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The 2020 season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The Atlanta Braves roster and schedule:

BRAVES ROSTER (projected)

When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.

In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Braves roster to begin the season:

Catchers:

Travis d'Arnaud
Tyler Flowers

Infielders:

Freddie Freeman
Ozzie Albies
Dansby Swanson
Austin Riley
Adeiny Hechavarría
Johan Camargo

Outfielders:

Ronald Acuña Jr.
Ender Inciarte
Marcell Ozuna
Yasiel Puig
Adam Duvall

Starters:

Mike Soroka
Max Fried
Mike Foltynewicz
Cole Hamels
Sean Newcomb
Josh Tomlin

Relievers:

Mark Melancon
Shane Greene
Will Smith
Luke Jackson
Chris Martin
Darren O'Day
Grant Dayton
Touki Toussaint


BREAKDOWN:

With the exception of outfielder Nick Markakis and third baseman Josh Donaldson, the Braves are bringing back largely the same roster that won 97 games and the NL East title last season. Markakis elected not to play while Donaldson signed with the Twins in free agency. First baseman Freddie Freeman is also a question mark as he battled COVID-19 and it was a harrowing experience, enough to influence Markakis to sit out the season. The Braves replaced Markakis on Tuesday by signing free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig.

The Braves’ offense will be reliant first and foremost on center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. He followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2018 by smacking 41 homers and stealing an NL-best 37 bases last season, finishing fifth in NL MVP Award balloting. He is only 22 years old but has already proven himself capable of carrying a team on his back. And that might be what the Braves need him to do. Ozzie Albies will be second in command, looking to build on his 2019 in which he racked up 43 doubles, 24 homers, and 15 stolen bases. The Braves would love it if Dansby Swanson or Austin Riley break out or Puig has a 2014-esque season as well.

Pitching-wise, the Braves are solid. Mike Soroka was quietly dominant last season, going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 142 punchouts over 174 2/3 innings, finishing second in Rookie of the Year Award voting. The 22-year-old will lead a staff that includes veterans Mike Foltynewicz and Cole Hamels, as well as Max Fried and an as yet unknown No. 5, currently between Sean Newcomb and Josh Tomlin. Hamels is currently battling a triceps injury, so his status is up in the air.

The back of the Braves’ bullpen may be the team’s biggest weakness. It lacks the star power that other contenders have, but the Braves hope their experience will more than make up for it. Melancon is entering his 12th season and will get the first crack at regular save opportunities. He’ll be backed by Shane Greene and Will Smith while Chris Martin, Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day, and Grant Dayton help bridge the gap to the eighth and ninth innings.

In such a short season where variance will have much more of an impact than usual, it’s tough to definitively declare favorites. That’s even more true in the highly competitive NL East, where the defending champion Nationals, Mets, and Phillies are all expected to be competitive. Even the Marlins could surprise some people. What can be definitively said is this: the 2020 season will be interesting.

BRAVES SCHEDULE:

Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.

  • July 24-26: @ Mets
  • July 27-28: @ Rays
  • July 29-30: vs. Rays
  • July 31-August 3: vs. Mets
  • August 4-6: vs. Blue Jays
  • August 7-10: @ Phillies
  • August 11-12: @ Yankees
  • August 14-16: @ Marlins
  • August 17-19: vs. Nationals
  • August 21-23: vs. Phillies
  • August 25-26: vs. Yankees
  • August 28-30: @ Phillies
  • August 31-September 2: @ Red Sox
  • September 4-6: vs. Nationals
  • September 7-9: vs. Marlins
  • September 10-13: @ Nationals
  • September 14-16: @ Orioles
  • September 18-20: @ Mets
  • September 21-24: vs. Marlins
  • September 25-27: vs. Red Sox

The entire Braves schedule can be seen here.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.