Friday, June 1, 2012

Braves @ Nationals: Series Preview

REVENGE! The fans demand a reckoning for the games here at home. We want our now healthy lineup (fresh with a new SS) to take out our frustrations on the Nats in their building. Do me a favor, Braves. Strike out Bryce Harper in every AB so I don't have to hear the media talking heads on ESPN put on the kneepads every time he gets a hit. I'm looking at you Oral Hersheiser. You are aptly named, sir.

Game 1 - Minor (supposedly) v. Strasburg
Game 2 - Beachy v. Gonzalez
Game 3 - Hanson v. Zimmerman

I'll start by saying I have no idea why we are still pitching Minor at this point. The kid obviously knows he's getting sent down since Medlen just left for AAA. He's already a headcase, and now we're telling him to go out there and let it all hang out? I think this is a disasterous move by the Braves. This is akin to everyone in the office knowing that somebody is about to get fired, but management refuses to pull the trigger until Friday, so you are all suffering through an extremely uncomfortable week while that guy trodges through his final project. Even worse, Minor is facing Strasburg (5-1). I'll analyze this game by saying this: Get 10 runs. Otherwise, you are rolling the dice with a lame-duck starter.

Beachy v. Gonzalez is a great matchup. Both are mid-20s hurlers at the top of their games. Both are #1 and #2 in the MLB for ERA. Both have over 5 wins in 10 starts. Both have a WHIP under 1.00, and Over 50 Ks on the year. If there ever was a duel waiting to happen, this is it. You must not miss this game if you love great young pitching. Gio got the better of our half-injured lineup in the last game, but he's also been the benefactor of a ton of offense in his recent wins. With 6 runs per game average in his last 5 starts, it's not shocking that he got 5 wins. If we can keep that down, we can take it to him.

Hanson needs a good outing. His last game against the Cards was an unmitigated pitching disaster. It's really the only truly bad outing he's had all year. I want to see him bounce back with a gem against the Nats, and there is good reason to believe he will. Without Werth, Morse, and Ramos, the big bats that hit well against Hanson are on the DL. For the guys who have faced Hanson before on the team, they are batting .206 with a .324 slugging average. The outliers are Flores and Harper who are batting .288 and .253 against righties, respectively. On the flip side, Zimmerman has been terrible at home in his last 3 starts. In those 3 home games, he's given up a combined 10 earned in 18 innings along with 6 walks and 4 homers. Nobody has a ton of ABs against Zimmerman, but we do have a few good and bad standouts. The Good: Diaz is 2/3 with a double and a bomb, and Prado is 4/8 with a double. The Bad: Heyward is 0/5, McCann is 1/7, and Uggla is 1/10.

This series is going to be about our pitching. Can we recover? Can we get over some of the bad outings from previous starts? We need to if we want to win this series.

Go Braves!

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