After a rather disappointing home stand where the Braves could only muster a 4-4 record, Atlanta heads back out on to the road to take on the Milwaukee Brewers for a three game set at Miller Park. The Brewers come into this series in 4th place in the NL Central division and are currently playing without perennial all-star Ryan Braun lining up in left field. Without Braun, Milwaukee still comes in with some impressive hitters at the plate. Youngsters Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura are both having marvelous seasons for the Brew Crew so far and although they have struggled somewhat this season their lineup still holds dangerous hitters such as Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez. The issue for the Brewers this season has been on the mound. The pitching staff as a whole holds a 4.33 ERA which ranks 28th in the majors and with the Braves dodging both Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse, expect the bats for Atlanta to heat up at Miller Park.
Julio Teheran will take the mound for Atlanta on Friday night looking to build off his brilliant outing on Sunday Night Baseball against the Giants. In that start, Teheran threw 6 shutout innings and struck out 8 in the Braves series clinching victory over San Francisco. His counterpart will be right hander Wily Peralta who showed some promise for the Brewers last season in just five starts. One of those five starts came against the Braves at Miller Park in which the youngster allowed just 1 run over 6 innings of work. However, upon making the rotation full time this season Peralta has struggled. Wily’s ERA which is 6.08 is very troublesome for any starting pitcher, and he has done his worst work at Miller Park this season. In 38.0 innings pitched at his home park this season, Peralta has a 7.34 and opposing hitters have hit .333 against him. He has also walked 22 batters, struck out just 20, and allowed 5 home runs at Miller Park this season. By all accounts this bodes well for a Braves lineup looking for a pitcher to take it’s frustration out on. Of note, last season Jason Heyward went 2 for 3 off of Peralta while Brian McCann and Dan Uggla each went 1 for 2. As for Julio Teheran, he has the advantage of having only 1 hitter that has seen him pitch in the Brewers lineup. That hitter was none other than Juan Francisco who was playing third base and playing defense behind Julio for the Braves.
Making a spot start for the Brewers on Saturday will be Tom Gorzelanny who has had pretty good career success against Atlanta. In work for the Nationals, Pirates, Cubs, and now the Brewers, Gorzelanny has a career 2.60 ERA against the Braves in 45 innings pitched. His counterpart on that day will be veteran Tim Hudson who has reasonably good career numbers against the Brewers as well. In 73.2 innings he has a 3.30 career ERA against the club from Milwaukee and hopes to continue that success on Saturday. Gorzelanny will be making just his second start of the season for the Brewers who continue to have rotation issues whereas Hudson will take the hill for the 16th time of the year. After getting off to a very shaky start for the Braves this season, Tim has really turned it on in his last 5 starts. In those starts Hudson has a 2.86 ERA despite being held winless. He looks to get back on the winning path in Milwaukee. However, ballparks other than Turner Field have been an issue for the right hander this season. Away from the Ted, Hudson is 1-6 with a 6.07 ERA.
In the final game of this 3 game set, the Braves will face 28 year old journeyman Alfredo Figaro. Figaro will be making his 5th start of the year for the Brew Crew, but so far has struggled since making the change to the rotation from the bullpen. Early in the season Figaro posted a 3.08 ERA out of the ‘pen until getting the call to join the starting rotation. Since then, Alfredo has posted an ERA of 4.98. More than likely, this stat will stem from a pitcher that gets hitters out the first time through the order but will tend to struggle as hitters get more and more looks at their stuff. His counterpart Paul Maholm is no stranger to the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park and unfortunately for the Braves, his experiences against them are some that he would like to forget. The veteran lefty has started 22 career games against Milwaukee and come out with a record of just 3-11 with a 5.12 ERA. However, the good news for Paul is that one of the main culprits of Paul’s pain versus Milwaukee, Ryan Braun, will not be in the lineup Sunday which should help out Maholm just a bit.
Braves Players to Watch
Brian McCann- The backstop for the Braves loves to hit and drive in runs against the Brewers. In his career against Milwaukee, McCann has hit at a .291 clip and has driven in 29 runs in just 39 starts. With Brian having somewhat of a down year so far, this could be the point in the season where he goes on his tear and teams can’t figure out a way to get him out.
Dan Uggla- Labeling Uggla as a player to watch has nothing to do with statistics or anything of that nature. Dan is put into this category because of the new contact lenses he has been prescribed to wear when he plays. Could his vision have been the reason for Uggla’s struggles? This series should give us an idea of that.
I’d love to come out and say the Braves are going to sweep this series and head into Kansas City on a successful note but my gut tells me that the Braves will drop one game out of this three game set and win the series 2 to 1. I also expect the Braves lineup to bust out of it’s slump a bit this weekend. I expect to see some balls flying over the wall and hopefully for all of our sake some hits with runners in scoring position.