ATLANTA — If the Atlanta Braves have any chance to avoid losing 100 games, their best opportunity begins now.
The Braves open the second half at home with a three-game series against Colorado.
Journeyman right-hander Lucas Harrell (1-0, 1.32) will pitch the series opener on Friday against veteran Colorado right-hander Jorge De La Rosa (5-6, 5.74).
This will be the last visit to Turner Field for the Rockies.
Coming out of the break, the Braves (31-58) have 16 straight games against teams with losing records. Seven of those games are against Colorado, the third-place team in the N.L. West. Three games are against Cincinnati, the last-place team in the N.L. Central. Two games are against Minnesota, the last-place team in the A.L. Central. Three are against Philadelphia, the team ahead of Atlanta in the East.
Atlanta needs to win 32 of its final 73 games to avoid its first 100-loss season since 1988. That would require the Braves to at least got 32-41, a .438 winning percentage. Atlanta had a .348 winning percentage before the All-Star break.
Atlanta hopes Harrell can give them another good outing.
He has been impressive in two turns since joining the rotation when John Gant suffered an injured oblique. He allowed one run over six innings in his first start against the Marlins, then pitched into the eighth inning and allowed one run against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
De La Rosa has made four straight quality starts and has a 2.61 ERA since he was reinstated in the starting rotation on June 14. But he has not pitched well against the Braves throughout his career, posting a 6.54 ERA. He started twice against Atlanta last season and allowed seven runs over 13 innings.
The Rockies (40-48) are trying to chase the N.L. West-leading Giants, who have a league-leading 57 wins. Colorado is 16 games out of first and seven games out of the wild card.
They have struggled to score runs, despite the presence of all-stars Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez and rookie sensation Trevor Story. Colorado has dropped 12 of 18 games since June 21 and has scored 19 runs in its last seven road games.
“We have to get out of this hole we dug ourselves into,” Colorado first baseman Mark Reynolds said.
Atlanta has been the worst offensive team in the National League for most of the first half, but can take solace that first baseman Freddie Freeman has found a groove. In his last 26 games, Freeman is batting .396 with 20 extra-base hits.
“It adds a lot to everybody's psyche, I think, when he gets it going, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. Everybody else doesn't feel like maybe they have to be the guy.”
Atlanta will be without catcher Tyler Flowers, who will miss six weeks with a broken left hand. The injury occurred when he was hit by a pitch on July 1 and was aggravated when he checked his swing against the White Sox on Saturday.
Atlanta has recalled Anthony Recker from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the spot. Recker was acquired from the Indians on May 9and has hit .243 with six home runs for the G-Braves. He has played for three different major-league teams and has a .185 career average in 167 games.