Sep 24, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Series Preview: Braves @ Pirates

The Braves finish their regular season with a road trip to Pittsburgh, hoping to keep the momentum going into Friday’s wild card game. There isn’t much else at stake here, as the Braves can only tie the Nationals at best.

  • The Braves will have Paul Maholm and Tommy Hanson go the first two games.  This will be Maholm’s third start this year against his old team, and he’s only allowed three runs in 13 IP.  One can only hope this is Hanson’s last appearance on the mound this season, as his 4.59 FIP has no reason to be used in the playoffs.
  • Tim Hudson is currently scheduled for the finale, but he will only pitch that day if the Braves are within a game of the Nationals.  If the Braves do end up tying Washington, they would have Huddy go Wednesday and presumably Mike Minor on Thursday.  If they would lose Thursday, Kris Medlen is on tap for Friday, which leaves Maholm for Game 1 Sunday and Hanson for Game 2 if Friday is a success.  While the Braves could sweep the Pirates, it is unlikely that the Phillies can also sweep the Nationals to force that Thursday game.
  • The Pirates have lefty Jeff Locke and righties Kevin Correia and A.J. Burnett on the bump to close their season.  The pitching has been the main cause of the collapse, as they have regressed to their FIP and xFIP figures.  Their ERA was significantly lower than their FIP and xFIP through June, then they matched in July.  August and September show ERAs at least half a run higher than their FIP and xFIP, and it’s hard for a NL team to win allowing five runs a game.
  • At least Pittsburgh has a legitimate MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen.  If he can maintain a .325/.400/.550 line for the season, he will be the first CF to post such a line since Bernie Williams in 1998.  Even more amazing is that Fred Lynn, doing it twice, is the only other centerfielder to pull off such a feat since Willie Mays in 1958.  Others, such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Trout this year, have had better seasons, but couldn’t pull off the all-around batting line.
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