May 2, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson (48) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

Series Preview: Braves @ Cubs


Half of the Atlanta Braves has been doing well lately. I am speaking about the offense of course. The pitching has been mediocre at best lately, but not as bad as some of their stats might seem.

Over the past 7 games the entire Atlanta pitching staff has an ERA of 6.58. The 4.26 FIP backs up my statement that they haven’t been as bad as it seems and the xFIP of 3.83 is even more generous. Lee’s the expert on pitching and he loves to use SIERA so I like seeing that the team has a 3.78 mark in that category.

Brandon Beachy definitely helped get the sour taste out of our mouths as he had a nice outing yesterday going 6.1 innings while just allowing 4 hits and 2 earned runs. Hopefully we will continue to see outings like this in the next series against a pretty bad Cubs offense.

 

Pitching Matchups

Monday May 7th, 8:05

On the mound for the Braves: Tommy Hanson

On the mound for the Cubs: Jeff Samardzija

Samardzija and Hanson have similar season numbers at this point—Hanson is 3 and 2 with a 3.74 ERA and Jeff is 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA—but Samardzija has definitely been the better pitcher of late. People have noticed that Hanson’s velocity has been down but fewer have noticed that he also isn’t locating the pitch like he used to. The loss of command and velocity on his fastball hurts his secondary pitches, and if he doesn’t figure something out this could be another season where Tommy just doesn’t put it all together.

Tuesday May 8th, 8:05

On the mound for the Braves: Randall Delgado

On the mound for the Cubs: Ryan Dempster

Randall Delgado is coming off of a strong 8 inning performance against the Phillies giving up just 6 hits and 2 runs, while striking out 5 and walking none. Ryan Dempster is leading the majors in ERA with a .95 ERA but has no wins to show for it. The ERA doesn’t seem to be too big of a fluke either, as he has a nice 2.33 FIP, and great K and BB rates.

Wednesday May 9th, 2:20

On the mound for the Braves: Tim Hudson

On the mound for the Cubs: Paul Maholm

Huddy is coming off of a rough 5 inning first at Coors Field and is looking to right the ship against Maholm. Maholm is 3-2 with a 5.13 ERA but is coming off of an excellent start against the Dodgers and also has a good track record against the Braves. In six starts against Atlanta he has a 1.58 ERA.

 

Rolling & Strolling

Rolling:

Atlanta Braves:

  • The entire offense is clicking right now and just about everyone is doing well. Players who don’t have a ton of hits in the past 7 games are taking walks (Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Brian McCann) and the guys who aren’t walking at all are getting a ton of hits (Chipper, Bourn, Pastornicky). Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla have been striking out and hitting home runs which is pretty much their bread and butter. It’s a wonderful thing when you can put the entire offense in the rolling section without having to try really hard to convince yourself of it.

Chicago Cubs:

The Cubs aren’t as blessed as the Braves offensively but they do have a group that is doing well lately.

  • Bryan LaHair- .409/480/.955 with 3 homers, a .591 wOBA and a wRC+ of 280 could be the best stat line anyone in the rolling category has ever put up.
  • Alfonso Soriano- Soriano is hitting .368/.400/.526 but with no homers. He’s also not been striking out as much lately as we are used to.
  • Starlin Castro- Really the only bright spot on the entire team, Castro is doing what he does and showing off a nice .400/.385/.560 line in the process. That line isn’t a typo by the way, that’s really what Fangraph’s has him at.

Strolling:

Atlanta Braves: see Rolling

Chicago Cubs: everyone else

 

Wrap Up

The Braves are the better team, and the Cubs are in last place in one of the weaker divisions in baseball. However the three pitchers the Braves have going out all have some questions and the three Cubbies have been pitching pretty well lately. It should be a good series.

 

Prediction

Braves take 2 out of 3

Tags: Atlanta Braves Chicago Cubs