The Braves will attempt to get on a nice trot this homestand
The Braves (57-45, 31-15 home) have a 3 game home series vs. the Cardinals (61-37, 30-20 road) starting with tonight’s 7:35 start. This month, the Cardinals have a 13-5 record, and have gone 5-1 since the All-Star Break; meanwhile, the Braves have a 9-11 July record, and have gone 3-4 since the break. The Braves are looking for any good spark to grab onto after having various players go down due to injury, and especially as the team has struggled over the last month.
Friday 7:35pm EDT- Mike Minor (2.98 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (2.44 ERA) Mike Minor has had himself a really good July; he’s kept opponents to a 2.96 ERA, while allowing just 8 walks across 27.1 IP. He’s also getting more than a strike-out per inning. This is all ho-hum, as aside from a 3 game stretch in June, Mike Minor has pitched like a #1 or #2 pitcher. He has very little experience against any of the Cardinals hitters, but if he can get his changeup and curveball working as usual, he’ll have a great day. Adam Wainwright has had a great season; his July has been his worst month this season, but his stats are still very good. Wainwright’s got great pitches, and uses them effectively to generate strikeouts, while limiting his walks. Wainwright has done a good job holding Braves hitters in check, as in 86 PAs, the team’s current hitters have a .474 OPS against him. It’s going to be hard to beat him, but our lineup has shown the ability to break out and knock around several aces this season, so don’t count us out.
Saturday 3:05pm EDT- Julio Teheran (3.25 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (3.88 ERA) Julio Teheran has been a pleasant surprise for the Braves this season; he’s been our 2nd best pitcher this season, behind Mike Minor. He has shown the ability to change his game to fit the team’s needs, as there have been games when he piles up strikeouts to help the defense, especially when we’re in small parks; at other times, he pitches to contact so that he can go deeper in games. All of his pitches have done pretty well this year, and as he continues to grow, we should expect him to get better. He has the easiest matchup pitcher-wise this series, which should be a plus for the young pitcher. He has never before faced any Cardinals’ hitters. Joe Kelly is one of the newest additions to the Cardinals rotation. After being used in relief for much of the season, he joined the rotation in early July and has made 2 starts since then, posting a 3.97 ERA. He hasn’t been particularly dominant in either role this season, but he’s been good enough to stick with the Cardinals for now. He allows a good numbers of hits, and strikes out just the league average percentage of batters. His walk rate isn’t elite, and he allows more home runs than the average pitcher. All of this leads to a guy that can be had at the plate, especially with a lineup as dangerous as ours. The only hitter who has faced Kelly is Justin Upton, who is 2-3 against him.
Sunday 8:05pm EDT- Kris Medlen (3.78 ERA) vs. Shelby Miller (2.77 ERA) Kris Medlen has had a rough year in the rotation at times, even to the point where it seemed that he would be taken out the rotation. Now that the Hudson injury has likely changed this, we can just hope that Medlen is able to relax and fix his flaw in his delivery. His pitches aren’t that great outside of his changeup, but if he is able to locate his fastball/sinker, he is able to provide solid innings of work. Cardinals hitters have combined to produce a .179/.175/.282/.457 line vs. Medlen in 41 PAs. Shelby Miller is at this point the player to win NL ROY, and no one can really argue with that. He has been one of the top pitchers not just of rookies, but in the entire game. His 2.77 ERA is good for 8th in the NL (FIP 5th); he is just 22 years old. He’s definitely one of the up and comers in the game, and he has arsenal to become really good. His fastball and curveball are his two best pitches by far. If the Braves aren’t careful, they could find themselves carved up in a hurry; Miller strikes out more than a quarter of the batters he faces. He has yet to face any Braves hitters. Wrapup Come Monday morning, I expect the Braves to have taken just 1 game of the series. While I hope for a series win (especially a sweep), considering how badly we need one, I feel that this matchup comes for the Braves at the wrong time; We’re sending up our 2 best starters, but we’re also expected to start one of our worse starters as well. In addition, the Cardinals are sending up their 2 best starters, who happen to be 2 of the best in all of baseball, and are dominant in doing so. Add in the offensive issues we’ve had recently, and well, it’s not a good recipe for success this weekend. I hope to be wrong, however. Enjoy the series, and all the trade rumors. Go Braves!