The problem you have when reviewing a team like the Marlins is you have to temper the overwhelming stench of Miami's failures this season. If you look at the team at face value, they are awful. Simply put, there is nothing redeeming about this Marlins team. If it wasn't for the fact they are required by MLB law to put someone on the All-Star team, they would have nobody. Not a single player on that team ranks as a starter at any position on the field. However, the Marlins have been feasting on bottom feeders for the last two weeks. In that stretch, they are 9-4. During that stretch they also played only one team with a winning record (Arizona), and they lost that series. I think they are coming into town quietly confident. They mostly likely won't leave feeling the same way. On to the matchups:
Game 1 - Medlen (5-7) v. Koehler (1-5)
Game 2 - Minor (8-3) v. Nolasco (4-8)
Game 3 - Teheran (6-4) v. Alvarez (0-0)
The first matchup is an expected laugher by Vegas. I've never seen a line this unbalanced in a game. Atlanta is about as heavily favored as they've been all season in this one session. That usually means everything on paper is tilting Atlanta's way. So what is that statistically that's causing such a discrepancy? For starters, Tom Koehler has given up a 6.83 ERA in June. He won a single game in SF on the road (his only road win) because the Giants couldn't muster more than one run. He was beaten by St. Louis (the last winning team he faced) 13-7. He walks a ton of people, and he doesn't strikes out about 1 every 2 innings. Downside, the Braves haven't faced him before. REPEAT, the Braves haven't faced him before. You know my feelings on this. Medlen struggles with 2 hitters on the Marlins lineup, Placido Polanco and Donovan Solano. The good news is that Solano's been on the DL and won't be in this series. That leaves just one guy to worry about, and Kris will likely pitch around him in any danger zones. Also, it should be noted that the Braves are hitting .294 as a team over the last week. They are fiery hot and looking for blood. Add it all together and you get a game that should be a win for Atlanta.
Minor hasn't pitched his best in June, and he's still 8-3 on the season. That's saying something considering the top winner in the NL only has 11 wins. With a 4.20 ERA in June, Minor has looked much better in the early half than the latter. Now the the calendar turns to July, Mike looks to get back on track, and that means keeping the ball in the ballpark. Ten runs in his last 3 starts have caused a couple of Braves losses in a row, with 4 homers in those 2 losses. Minor has been roughed up before by Logan Morrison of the fish, and that's the guy I would keep my eye on if I were Mike, along with Stanton. Both of them can do some long ball damage. On the plus side, so can the Braves. In fact the Braves have hit 12 homers off Ricky Nolasco. The lineup is hitting a combined .305 with an OPS over .900 against the Marlins righty. We LOVE facing this guy. In the last 3 years, the Braves have only lost to Nolasco twice over 11 outings. I like those odds.
Teheran is going to be this year's big story I think. The velocity, control, and mound presence of the young pitcher keeps getting better and better each start, the ERA has been trending toward a number under 3.00, and his WHIP has dropped dramatically over the last month and a half. Teheran hasn't given up an earned run at home since May. Think about that. In 3 full games at home, he's shut out every opponent in his starts. He's had one of the more dominant months inside Turner Field in a long long time. We can only hope that he continues to shine in this series against a team that doesn't hit well. The Marlins have never faced Teheran, so I hope they swing and miss as they get a first hand lesson. The Braves have never seen Henderson Alvarez because he's never pitched in the National League before. He spend two years on the Blue Jays before getting Tommy John. Now he's coming off the DL to make his first season start against the Braves. I have zero idea what to expect. I wouldn't mind a 1-0 win for the Braves at the end of the day though.
The CPA (41-29) racked up a sweep along with the Braves this weekend. How does it feel about the mismatch in Game 1?
CPA Prediction Game 1: Braves 4 - Marlins 2
The Braves have all the right pieces in place to take this game over. The only concern is that they don't have any experience against the pitcher on the mound for the Marlins tonight. If they can move past that, they can win handily, because the CPA thinks Medlen can stifle most of the Marlins lineup.