February 20, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) poses for a picture during photo day at Disney Wide World of Sports complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Braves Battle Friars: Series Preview

June 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) pitches in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves (39-24) travel to Petco Park for a three game set against the San Diego Padres (29-34) tonight.  Hoping to notch their 40th win and become only the second team in the majors to reach that mark, the Braves will open the series with confidence as Julio Teheran (4-2, 3.30 ERA)  takes the mound in game one.

Teheran started the season shaky, but has slowly become one of the most reliable starters for the Braves.  In his last outing on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Teheran was just shy of throwing a no-hitter, tossing the pill for eight shut-out innings, giving up just one hit with a career high 11 strikeouts and just two walks.  Braves fans everywhere were rooting for Teheran and the no-hit bid, as it would have been only the 15th no-hitter for an Atlanta pitcher (strange to hear that with Atlanta’s rich pitching history, eh?), and the first no-hitter in 19 years.  The last pitcher to achieve the honor was Kent Mercker, pitching for a 6-0 win against the LA Dodgers in 1994.  Combined together with help from Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena, Mercker also led the way in a no-hitter in 1991 against the San Diego Padres at the old Fulton County Stadium.  As Julio Teheran came so close to the no-hit bid in his last outing, perhaps some of that Mercker magic against the Padres will still be in the air on Monday night.  Asked about Teheran’s progress as a pitcher, Braves’ catcher Gerald Laird said:

He has grown up a lot as this season has gone along.  It’s a lot of fun to go out there and watch him pitch. I’m not afraid to call offspeed pitches in any count now.  He’s gaining more and more confidence.  Once he goes out there and has a good game, he wants to do better. The last six, seven outings he’s been right there going six, seven innings for us every time and giving us a chance to win. This kid just puts in the time and the work. He works hard in between starts, he works on things in his bullpen and it’s starting to show in the game.

Taking the bump and facing Teheran for the Padres will be former Brave, and sinker baller, Jason Marquis (7-2, 3.73 ERA).  Like Teheran, Marquis has become one of the best starters on the Friar’s staff this year (despite his penchant for giving up walks), and will take the mound coming off a great outing against the LA Dodgers where he threw for just over six innings and gave up just two runs on three hits in a 6-2 victory.  When Marquis was asked recently about how he pitched against the Dodgers, he said:

I’ve been working really hard to find a consistent delivery… The execution of my sinker was where I wanted it.  When I have a good one like that, I like to use it a lot. The sinker is my bread and butter.

Going for his 7th straight victory, batters are only averaging .242 against the righty, but several Braves hitters have seen him and hit well against him, including Brian McCann (5 for 15), Freddie Freeman (2 for 4), Jason Heyward (2 for 6), Gerald Laird (4 for 5), and Reed Johnson (1 for 3).  As of this post, we don’t know what lineup Fredi Gonzalez will have in place, but it will be interesting to see if Gerald Laird catches Teheran tonight, and if perhaps Reed Johnson is shuffled into the outfield.  Justin Upton has not hit well against Marquis (2 for 11), and Marquis has never faced Evan Gattis, Ramiro Pena, Andrelton Simmons, or B.J. Upton.  It’s always interesting, and frankly sometimes curious to see who the Braves will start, but the mix just mentioned makes me wonder who we’ll see in the lineup for Atlanta tonight, and how well the Braves will fare against Marquis’ obviously improved sinker.


Braves Offensive Notes

  • Freddie Freeman (.313 AVG) has been on fire.  Since June 1, Freeman has gone 11 for 36, with 4 doubles, 9 RBIs, and a homer.  
  • Jason Heyward has been heating up as well.  On June 1, Heyward was hitting well below the Mendoza Line at a sad .142 AVG, but has gone 12 for 32 since then, with 2 doubles and a homer as well, and has increased his AVG to .200.  
  • Is Dan Uggla beginning to show signs of the kind of turnaround we saw in 2011?  That year, Uggla was hitting just .185 in the first half of the season, then went on a 33 game hitting streak, hitting .296 in the second half, and finishing the season with a .233 AVG.  Uggla may be about to start another surge, as he’s gone 7-22 with 3 homers and 7 RBIs since June 4th, raising his BA from .175 to .193.  

Padre’s Offensive Notes

  • Nick Hundley had been in a skid himself, but snapped out this past Sunday, going 2-4 with an RBI solo homer.  
  • Everth Cabrera is on a ten game hitting streak, having gone 22-48 with eight mult-hit games during that same 10 game streak.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1 (10:10 PM EST)

Braves: Julio Teheran (RHP, 4-2, 3.30 ERA) – Lefties have a .309 AVG against Teheran, but righties only have a .215.
Padres: Jason Marquis (7-2, 3.73 ERA) – Both righties and lefties against Jason are similar, with righties at .229 and lefties at .259.

Game 2 (10:10 PM EST)

Braves:  Tim Hudson (4-5, 4.48 ERA) – Tim has struggled, but bounced  back in his last outing, allowing just one run and seven hits in the 14 1/3 innings he totaled in his past two starts.
Padres: Andrew Cashner (4-3, 3.68 ERA) – Cashner has a good sinker, and recently held the Rockies to just 3 runs on 7 hits in a Padres win.

Game 3 (3:40 PM EST)

Braves: Paul Maholm (7-4, 3.46 ERA) – Paul has been sharp this season,  alloweing two earned runs or less in four of his past five starts.
Padres: Edinson Volquez (4-5, 6.33) – Volquez normally has a great fastball and breaking ball, but  it wasn’t so sharp in his last outing, where he allowed nine runs on 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Pitching Notes

  • With the Brave’s bullpen needing as many innings out of starters as possible lately, starting pitchers have given all that and more, allowing just three earned runs in 35 innings (0.77 ERA) in the past five games.

Tags: Atlanta Braves FanSided

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