Thursday, August 23, 2012

Braves @ Giants: Series Preview

Oh good, a west coast series. Hooray for late nights and jetlag! Luckily we're coming in off a win instead of a bad sweep by the Nats. We've got to make the most of this 4 gamer against a Giants team that's been very hot lately. A split would probably be nice so we can move on to our next homestand. As you'll see with these two teams, there's a ton of unknowns and ifs in this series. Let's see how the matchups look:

Game 1: Hanson v. Zito
Game 2: Sheets v. Vogelsong
Game 3: Minor v. Bumgarner
Game 4: Hudson v. Lincecum

Give Hanson credit. He's been on the right end of winning results over his last 10 games. The Braves are 9-1 in his last 10 starts, even though his ERA has been extremely suspect. I still don't love his command, and I still think he is inconsistent when it comes to velocity, but the Braves seem to just out-hit any issues he's had. Zito's been a complete mess as well in his last two games, giving up 8 runs in 9 innings of work. However, he's also won both of those games because the Giants out-hit his problems. Nobody knows how this will go. You have two lineups that have been covering up a ton of sins from their starters. This one is a wash based on which starter can actually show up.

Sheets has gone from comeback story of the year to a gigantic long ball question mark. He's had 2 terrible outings over the last two starts, after storming out of the gate with 3 straight wins. Like Tommy, it's a question of which guy we'll get in this game? Will we get the Sheets who goes 7 innings of 1 run ball? Or will we get the Sheets that throws up back to back to back homers? That kind of inconsistency is mirrored in Vogelsong. Ryan in his last two games has been abysmal. He's lost his last two starts 14-2, and 7-1, both times getting knocked out before the 4th inning. He's given up 11 runs in just under 6 innings. I mean we're talking full meltdown on the mound. This all happened after he threw a 7 inning 3 hitter in St Louis. It makes no sense that he's gone into the tank, but it's happened. This is another game that's impossible to call because both of these guys have had such poor starts recently, but they are capable of much better performances.

Minor is battling with Sheets and Hanson for the last spot in the rotation. I think he's probably ahead of the other two because he's a lefty, but he can't afford to give up any ground since he's the least supported pitcher on the staff. If Minor had Hanson's run support, he'd be 9-7 on the season instead of 6-10. He's lost his last 3 starts because the Braves have scored a total of 1 run for him. That's a lineup problem, not a Minor problem. Bumgarner struggles with Braves in limited starts. He's gone 9.2 innings against us with an 0-1 record and a 4.66 ERA. He's prone to walks against us, he's given up more than a hit an inning, and we can score on him in bunches. I actually like this matchup IF IF IF we can finally give Minor the support he deserves.

Huddy has been bizarre. Get him outside of the first inning, and he's a glorious starter. Inside the first inning, he's a total disaster. Last time he faced SF at home, he went 7.1 against Bumgarner with only 2 runs given up. The Braves ended up winning that game on just 3 hits. Huddy got almost no support and still pulled it off. He can do it again because... Lincecum's a pot-smoking pot-hole in the Giants rotation this year. With an ERA over 5 and a 7-13 record, Timmy Smoke's not smoking anybody anymore. In his last 3 games, he's gone 1-2 with an ERA of 4.32. Even lifetime when Lincecum was grooving along, guys like Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones, and Martin Prado were still hitting .300+ against him. I think we can win this one, and if it comes down to us being 2-1, we can take the series here.

So, as they said to the pioneers of early America, it's time to go West young men! Head out to the land of fruits and nuts, and come back with a trail mix of victories.

Go Braves!

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