As the Braves waltz into Seattle, the quote “get busy living, or get busy dying” can’t be used more seriously without being completely literal. Atlanta has now dropped 6 straight on the west coast and has failed to take any advantage of the Nationals losing three of their past five games. Now 3 games back, Fredi Gonzalez might be hard pressed into introducing one of his too little, too late lineup shakeups. Especially considering who the Braves will have to tee off against in this brief 2 game set before heading home to battle the Nats.
Felix Hernandez will take the hill in game 1, and the Braves have every right to be afraid. As per usual, King Felix is dealing. I mean, he’s REALLY dealing. Hernandez leads the American League with not only a bright at shiny 2.01 ERA, but a 2.07 FIP. You read right, a .06 difference. His .889 WHIP would be far and away his lowest ever, and his 6.3 H/9 is is nearly 2 full hits lower than the rest of his career. Felix isn’t giving up anything, and this is obviously bad for the Braves, who won their sole game against Hernandez back in 2011.
Seattle’s pitching doesn’t start and end with the King, unfortunately. The second game is started by none other than former injury prone Padre Chris Young. As surprised as I am to see that Young is a quality major league arm again, having tossed 129.2 quality innings for Seattle, I am not surprised that it was for Seattle. His trademark pitch to contact approach is safe within the confines of Safeco and a strong Mariners defense. The Braves usually tee off against guys like this – in fact, they’ve tagged Young for 29 runs in 39 career innings against him, so it will be an interesting game to watch.
Here comes the point where I explain the other side of the coin, which if you can guess by their barely .500 record, is that Seattle can’t hit. Sound familiar?
Robinson Cano may have left his power behind the short porch of Yankee Stadium, but the $240MM man still knows his way around the stick as evident by his .330 average, good for second in the league behind division rival Jose Altuve at .339. Third basemen and one of my personal favorites Kyle Seager continues to be one of the most productive young players in the game, with 16 homers and a solid .341 OBP to go alongside his strong defense. Behind these two however, are revolving doors of mediocrity. For seemingly the 7th year straight (I was close, it’s 5) Justin Smoak has received a majority of the at bats at 1st base. With Smoak now in the minors, newly reacquired Kendrys Morales looks to get the bulk of the at bats at 1st.
Seattle also chipped in on the David Price trade and walked away with centerfielder Austin Jackson, hoping to improve their outfield offense that has seen some of the worst offensive output in the major leagues. Seattle’s never-ending quest to have fringe corner outfielders/1st base/DH type players led both Logan Morrison and Corey Hart to Safeco in the offseason, and they may have both buried their careers there. Morrison and Hart have both missed time with injuries, but both have also recorded OPS’s under .600 when taking the field. For those wondering, yes, this is worse than B.J. Upton, if only by a little.
Despite these pedestrian offensive performances, the acquisitions of Morales and Jackson show that the Mariners are serious about contending and improving their abyssal offense, and their first big test will be against two of the Braves’ best starters.
10:10 PM EST, Tuesday, August 5th
3:40 PM EST, Wednesday, August 6th