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In his first start, Spencer Strider looks to lead Braves past D-backs

May 18, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA;  Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (65) delivers a pitch in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta rookie pitcher Spencer Strider is set to make his first major league start when the Braves begin a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday in Phoenix.

Strider (1-1, 2.22 ERA) has been dazzling as a reliever in his first 11 games, allowing six runs across 24 1/3 innings with 37 strikeouts.

“I mean, every time he pitches, I always just come back in the dugout and say, ‘That guy is nasty,'” Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “He is so good and he’s so comfortable. When I say he’s comfortable with himself, like, he’s very confident in who he is.”

Strider, 23, likely will be on a pitch count since he has not thrown more than four innings or 71 pitches in any outing this season.

The right-hander will face an Arizona team looking to bounce back after being swept in four games by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend.

The D-backs will be glad to turn the page following another lost series against the Dodgers. Los Angeles is 24-5 against Arizona over the past two seasons, including eight straight wins.

Second baseman Ketel Marte is batting .364 (16-for-44) during an 11-game hitting streak to lead Arizona, which was outscored 26-8 during the just-completed series against the Dodgers.

The D-backs have received a spark from outfielder Jake McCarthy, who is 9-for-31 (.290) with three extra-base hits and three walks in his second stint with the team this season.

“Since he’s rejoined us, I think the game has slowed down a bit for him,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “My conversations have been making me feel that he utilized his time in Triple-A to focus on what he needed to do once he got back to the big leagues, and it’s playing out.”

Right-hander Zac Gallen (3-0, 2.22 ERA) will take the mound for Arizona on Monday. He struggled in his last outing, giving up six runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Kansas City Royals last Tuesday.

Gallen, 26, entered the game with a 1.14 ERA but yielded seven hits while throwing 96 pitches against the Royals. Gallen has been especially tough at home, going 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his last seven starts at Chase Field.

Marcell Ozuna is hitless in six at-bats against Gallen, who won his only previous start vs. Atlanta on April 25, 2021, allowing one hit over seven scoreless innings.

Ozuna hit two home runs in a 6-3 win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday to help the Braves clinch their first winning homestand (4-3) of the season.

Austin Riley had two hits and drove in two runs in Sunday’s win as Atlanta’s offense came to life with a season-high nine extra-base hits.

“We’re starting to come around,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We have been for a few days.”

Braves rookie outfielder Michael Harris, who made his major league debut on Saturday, made a diving catch in Sunday’s game and has one hit in his first six at-bats.

Arizona catcher Daulton Varsho (right shoulder) has been held out of the starting lineup for the past two games, but he flied out as a pinch hitter on Sunday.

–Field Level Media