Friday, April 12, 2013

Series Preview: The Nationals

It's the early season series we've all been waiting for. That's so odd, considering the fact that 3 years ago, the Nats were essentially the dregs of the division. Now? It's us and them on a quest for the ultimate prize.

Game 1: Teheran v. Detwiler
Game 2: Hudson v. Strasburg
Game 3: Maholm v. Gonzalez

The first matchup is arguably the most one-sided, and not in our favor. Detwiler only allow one unearned run in 6 innings against the extremely hot Reds, while Teheran struggled to get off the hook with a no-decision against the dreadful Cubs. In terms of first starts, it's a clear advantage for Detwiler. In terms of career history, Detwiler has had a lot of success against our lineup, but most of it has been against players that won't be starting for the Braves tonight. He's dominated Freeman and McCann, but they are on the DL. The worst situation is Dan Uggla, who's never had a hit off Detwiler in 10 ABs. However, Heyward, Reed Johnson, Simmons, and BJ have had prior success in limited ABs. I would look for Reed to get a start in this game somewhere, if Fredi G wants a guy that has a .500 average in 12 ABs off him. Teheran has never faced the Nats, so I have some advice for him. Pitch better than you did against the Cubs. Go back to your spring training thoughts and keep it out of the middle of the plate.

Game 2 is the national highlight game. Huddy and Strasburg head-to-head on FOX Saturday baseball. A win here would set the national lovefest into full bloom. A loss would mean head shaking and questions amongst the media analysts. In reality, none of that is warranted since it's one series of 6, and we're in April, but people love to pump up this as MOST IMPORTANT SERIES SO FAR. Then, we all remember there's 150 games left, and we calm the heck down. Huddy is older, so he has a lot of history against the Nats, and that history is really solid for the most part. In 248 combined ABs, Huddy has given up a total of 5 homers. More than half of those were to (guess who) Jason "Beardo" Werth. If there's a guy in that lineup who will absolutely murder our chances of a win, it's him. Otherwise, the entire Nats lineup slugs less than .350 against Huddy. That's paltry. On the flipside, Strasburg is coming off a horrible outing against the Reds, where he got roughed up for 6 runs in 5.1 innings. Despite racking up Ks, Strasburg has trouble with a few guys in our lineup. Dan Uggla has ripped him apart in the past with an 8/17, 2 doubles, 2 bombs, 8 RBIs, and 3 walks. Heyward has also taken him to the shed with 7/12 with a double and 2 walks. The rest of the guys have 5 ABs or less experience. I think this matchup is more one-sided to the Braves than the analysts might believe at first glance.

Game 3 is a complete tossup in my mind. Maholm hasn't given up a run in 2 games, and his WHIP is under 1.00 for the season. Gonzalez has given up 1 run in 2 starts, and his WHIP is under 1.00 for the season. Something has to give in this matchup. It's a lefty on lefty war. In terms of history, the edge goes to Gonzalez. In 61 ABs, the Braves only have a .197 average. Against the Nats, Maholm has trouble with Beardo Werth, Zimmerman, and Ian Desmond. The thing is, Maholm's been pitching over his head for the first two games, and you don't know if this is the matchup where he comes back to earth. Gio has never faced a back to back lineup of this caliber. Both are due to give up some runs, and it may be a contest of who blinks first in the day.

Several conversations on the radio revolve around Brian McCann coming back, and what will happen to Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird. In my mind, we'll keep them both in the lineup. I think we'll dump one of the other PHers we keep in the lineup but rarely use, in favor of the power of Gattis. I also think we'll keep Laird as a backup, and because he's a journeyman hitter. We're carrying some backup guys on the roster like Blake Dewitt, who I don't think will hang around. We also have to consider sending down Pena when McCann comes back as well. In essence, I think we'll carry the 3 catchers unless Gattis really cools off.

Also, what does the CPA think about tonight's game? Let's find out.

CPA Prediction Game 1: Nats 5 - Braves 2

The CPA doesn't like our history against Detwiler, nor does it like Teheran's first start. The advantage the Braves have is in the bullpen over the Nats, but the Nats have been crushing right handed pitching for a combined OPS of .888 on the year. It doesn't set up well for us to have our rookie who struggled against the Cubs trying to get right against a veteran division winning team.

Let's hope the CPA isn't right this time.


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