The Braves enter today having lost their last six games, accumulating in 2 series sweeps by two teams on the opposite end of the spectrum. It doesn’t help that today they start a 3 game set against the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the premier talented clubs in all of Major League Baseball.
In response to this skid, Fredi Gonzalez is breaking out the big guns and doing something he doesn’t normally do: change.
Tonight’s lineup features Aaron Harang batting 8th, with Dan Uggla absent from the lineup. In his place is Ramiro Pena, batting 9th. Other adjustments feature Justin Upton replacing his brother B.J. Upton in batting 2nd, Evan Gattis hitting cleanup, and Bossman Junior in the 5 hole.
Making his Braves debut on Tuesday is Gavin Floyd, who is taking Ervin Santana‘s start in the rotation. Santana has a bruised thumb and has been slated to start Saturday against Chicago. It remains to be seen what Floyd’s role with the club will be currently, but having his season debut come against a team of this caliber should be able to show us where Floyd is currently at, and if he truly has recovered fully from the Tommy John Surgery he underwent just 2 days shy of a year ago.
7:10 PM EST, May 5th, Monday
Probables: Shelby Miller (3-2, 3.15 ERA) vs Aaron Harang (3-2, 2.97 ERA)
7:10 PM EST, May 6th, Tuesday
Probables: Tyler Lyons (0-2, 4.20 ERA) vs Gavin Floyd (0-0, 0.00 ERA – SEASON DEBUT)
7:10 PM EST, May 7th, Wednesday
Cardinals at the Dish:
The Cardinals sit at .500 with a 16-16 record, which is definitely foreign territory for this club. Slow starts from their entire outfield – Matt Holiday, Allen Craig, and their center field team of Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos – are much to blame for this. These four players have combined for just a .640 OPS to open this season. While great starts for franchise star Yadier Molina and Matt Adams have helped supplement this, the Cardinals are obviously missing this production from 1/3rd of their lineup. Despite these early struggles, the Braves will need to pitch to this team like the World Series winners they were just 3 years ago. Holiday is currently the most productive of the slumping bunch, and his lifetime .965 OPS against the Braves is something that can’t be ignored.
Cardinals Behind the Rubber:
On the mound you’ll see a pitching staff not that much unlike the Braves. Tonight you get to see young star in the making Shelby Miller, who has seen his share of good fortune this year. While he sports a 3.15 ERA, he has walked 21 men in 34.1 innings, good for most in the league. Aside from that, 7 of his pitches have left the ballpark in fair territory, all of this resulting in a 6.19 FIP. If the Braves are going to break out of this drought, this is the guy to do it against. Behind Miller lies swingman Tyler Lyons, who has been solid in his time replacing the injured Joe Kelly, and staff ace and former Braves farmhand Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has been dealing as usual, which is bad news for the Braves offense.
Backing up their excellent rotation is a very solid bullpen that has been sparingly used this season thanks to a strong rotation. Closer Trevor Rosenthal has been the victim of some misfortune, but still crushes peripheral numbers, striking out 19 in 14.1 innings. Behind him are a pair of solid young lefty/right setup team in Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist, paired with a lefty/right situational force of Pat Neshek and Randy Choate.
The Braves will need to strike early and swiftly to be successful in this series, and hopefully this new lineup configuration can help the Braves regain their early season performance.
Tags: Atlanta Braves