Friday, May 11, 2012

Series Preview: Braves @ Cardinals

Heading into St. Louis, I think I can honestly say that I'm a little suspect of our chances. The series with the Cubs was a rude awakening after our slugfests in Colorado. Of course, the Cubs pitching staff is firing on all cylinders right now, and the only reason they aren't contending for the Central is because they can't hit their way out of a wet paper bag. Meanwhile, St. Louis is #1 in the NL in scoring runs, and the Braves are #2. However, St. Louis is #2 in the majors in ERA, and the Braves are #24. What happened to our pitching? Man, that's a big reversal from what I expected at the beginning of this season.

Game 1: Minor v. Garcia
Game 2: Beachy v. Wainwright
Game 3: Hanson v. Lynn

Minor is dangerously close to going on my list. Today's start will give some insight into whether or not we can trust him in the starting role this year. In his 3 good starts, he's gone on average 7 innings with a 1.69 ERA, and we won all 3. In his three bad starts, he goes 5.2 innings with an 11.57 ERA, and we went 1-2. Holiday and Beltran have both lit up Minor in the few ABs they've faced him. Also, the Cards are hitting .300 against lefties. So...yeah. That's not good. On the other hand, Garcia has a 4.45 ERA in his last 3 games, and the Cardinals have lost all of them. So, he's not exactly on fire either. Bourn absolutely kills Garcia, so that's a great thing. Matty Diaz and Dan Uggla also hit him really well. Bad news? Prado and Chip have a combined 0/15 against Garcia. Were I to rearrange the lineup, I think giving Prado a day off for Diaz and letting Fransisco have a shot at 3rd might be a good thing.

In Beachy We Trust. Go ahead and put that on a quilt and let it keep you warm at night. So far, the most earned runs Beachy has given up during a start is 2. He's probably been our most rock-solid starter in the rotation, which is saying a lot for a 25 year old. The Cardinals don't have much experience against him at all, which adds even more advantage to our side. Wainwright is a mess. He has a 5.61 ERA, but he's rebounded slightly in his last two starts. However, his last two starts were against Pittsburgh and Houston. So, I don't really consider that to be all that earth-shattering. All our hitters have success against Wainwright except BMac and Freeman. That's concerning because BMac has been really struggling this month. Overall though, this game sets up as our best chance for a win in the series.

Hanson needs runs support. Every game he's received 3 or more runs, we've won. Every game where that didn't happen? We lost. It's as simple at that. He's going to go out there and give you a chance to win, but the offense has to hold up it's end of the bargain. The only problem is Lance Lynn pitching absolutely filthy stuff right now. A record 6-0 in his 6 starts, he's only given up 2 runs in 2 starts for the month of May. He's 3rd in the majors in ERA, 5th in WHIP, and first in wins. He's only walked 11 batters in 38 innings. The guy is white hot. In every way, shape, and form, this matchup is an absolute disaster for us. If we're 1-1 going to the rubber game, I don't see any potential way we can beat up on a guy who is having one of the better starts to a season I've ever seen for a fresh starter.

So who should we keep an eye of for the Cards in this series? Who is the one guy we absolutely can't have come to the plate with ducks on the pond and a chance to break the game open? The answer to that is Carlos Beltran. 27 RBIs, 10 HRs, and slugging .570? Yeah, let's not pitch to him in key places, please. Also, Furcal is extremely pesky out there and loves to run on us. I still wish we had him on the team. I've never really gotten over that one. Oh, and did I mention the Cardinals bullpen is good, too? Yeah, not a lot of weaknesses on this team. There's a reason they are tied for the best record in the NL. Oh well. Honestly, I think if we can take one game in this series and just move on back home, we're probably ok. A winning series is a bit of a stretch, but if it happened, it would be HUUUUUUGE!

Go Braves!

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