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The dawning of September brings with it expanded major league rosters for the final weeks of the season, giving the Atlanta Braves an opportunity to look at the centerpiece of their major trade-deadline deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hector Olivera, the 30-year-old who the Braves hope will provide sorely needed right-handed offense, is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday at third base when the Braves host the Miami Marlins
The 30-year-old Olivera was viewed as the prized acquisition for Atlanta when it traded top prospect Jose Peraza and Alex Wood to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 30.
The third baseman was one of this year’s top international free agents before he signed a six-year, $62.5 million deal with the Dodgers. He battled through a hamstring injury earlier in the season before hitting .231 in 42 plate appearances during a rehab stint at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Atlanta comes off a sound three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, who outscored the Braves 38-11 in the series and pegged 20 on the board in the finale. The 20-6 defeat on Sunday marked the first time the Braves had allowed 20 runs in a game since losing to these Marlins, 20-3. The losing pitcher that day: Mike Hampton. It is safe to say it has been awhile. Atlanta has now lost five in a row and 12 of the last 13 games.
Miami has lost three straight series to the Phillies, Pirates, and Nationals, and sit tied at the bottom of the National League East standings with Philadelphia. Both teams boast a 52-79 record, but are only 2.5 games behind the third-place Braves. Former Brave Martin Prado has been hot over the last week, with a .357 average (10-for-28) with two homers and four RBIs.
Marlins LH Justin Nicolino (2-2, 3.65 ERA) vs. Braves LH Manny Banuelos (1-2, 2.49)
Nicolino made his major-league debut in June and had four starts in August, going 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA and 26 hits allowed in 26 innings last month. He lost to the Pirates on Thursday, giving up two runs on six hits with four walks in six innings. The 23-year-old Nicolino, who has allowed two earned runs in each of his past three outings, is a second-round pick of Toronto in the 2010 draft who came to Miami in a 12-player trade following the 2012 season.
Atlanta pitching was smoked for 38 runs in three losses to the New York Yankees over the weekend, and its pitching plans were shaken when Monday’s starter Mike Foltynewicz was scratched due to flu-like symptoms. The Braves initially planned to deploy some combination of Banuelos and Edwin Jackson to cover the early innings of Wednesday’s series finale after demoting Williams Perez to Triple-A Gwinnett Saturday. The 24-year-old Banuelos allowed four runs on six hits in five innings to drop a 4-2 decision to St. Louis on July 24.