Gaining a couple of games on Washington was a start, but the Braves still have a lot of catching up to do to prepare for the long road to the playoffs. Unfortunately, that road is paved with a 4 game set against the Dodgers.
When the Braves squared off with the Dodgers in LA not two weeks ago, it was almost a given that Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke were going to prevent Atlanta from outright winning the series. Little did we know it would lead to an 8 game spiral, but facing two absolute aces and losing by one run wasn’t that bad. It was expected.
But those expectations are now lost.
The Dodgers acquisition of incumbent veteran Kevin Correia on Saturday may have been a reactionary move, as Josh Beckett and former Brave Paul Maholm were sidelined with injuries, but it helps Atlanta as Greinke has now been given another day of rest. Yes, that means the Braves will miss both Greinke AND Kershaw this series. I myself am practically dancing at my desk.
In my last series preview with the Dodgers, I hit all the highlights of their potent offense, and not much has changed, as you’d expect, except for the absence of Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez was disabled on Saturday with a strained right oblique, leaving Miguel Rojas with an opportunity to get the biggest share of plate appearances at shortstop. This shouldn’t be a problem for the Braves, as Rojas is a utility infielder, right in line with a Ramiro Pena type; great to have, but no one you’d rely on.
On the other side of the lineup, I have a few choice words for the guy who woke up Matt Kemp. Kemp was pretty much the single handed difference maker in two of the Dodgers three wins last time out, and hasn’t slowed down. Slashing .304/.346/.469 in the past week, a bulk of Kemp’s offensive value in 2014 has come since we last faced off against the Dodgers. Likewise, Adrian Gonzalez is picking back up after his hot start, as he has slashed .341/.400/.614 since we last saw him. On the other side of the coin, both Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon are hitting under .200 in their last week of play.
Pitching matchups are likely to be the strongest suit the Braves have going into this series, as Correia has been awful while Julio Teheran has been arguably the best pitcher on the staff. If the Braves lose game 1, we riot. Once again, Mike Minor squares off against his opposing counterpart in Dan Haren. Haren used to be a bankable name, but since 2011, Haren has slowly been declining and that has resulted in 3 years with an FIP over 4. Haren has also seen his strikeouts dip a full point per nine, despite walking virtually no one. It’s possible that Haren’s best stuff is behind him, so being able to not be overpowered by Haren is a big plus for Mike Minor and the Braves, as Minor continues to attempt to salvage a lost year.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is the best Dodgers starter you haven’t heard about nearly enough, and it’s very fitting that he match up with Ervin Satana, as both are very similar, although Ryu tends to give up less walks. Last but certainly almost least is Roberto Hernandez, who has been, in a expression, meh in 2014. The artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona had a solid first start with LA, but now faces a team that has already tagged him for 9 earned runs/11 runs in 19 innings this year. To put it in perspective, Carmona was only able to strike out 7 men in those innings. I’m checking the good sign box on that one.
7:10 PM EST, Monday, August 11th
Kevin Correia (5-13, 4.94 ERA with Minnesota)
Julio Teheran (10-8, 2.92 ERA)
7:10 PM EST, Tuesday, August 12th
Dan Haren (9-9, 4.57 ERA)
Mike Minor (4-7, 5.42 ERA)
7:10 PM EST, Wednesday, August 13th
Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-5, 3.21 ERA)
Ervin Santana (11-6, 3.69 ERA)
12:10 PM EST, Thursday, August 14th
Roberto Hernandez (6-8, 3.83 ERA with Phillies and Dodgers)
Aaron Harang (9-6, 3.31 ERA)
Tags: Atlanta Braves