I'm not going to pretend this isn't a big series. It's the last one before the All-Star break, it's against a very good team that will likely make the playoffs, and the Braves are at home for the last time until the 26th of July. We need to at the very least split this thing. Anything less will be an abject failure in both team confidence and in our division standings. In short, we need to win. On to the matchups:
Game 1 - Hudson v. Latos
Game 2 - Medlen v. Arroyo
Game 3 - Minor v. Bailey
Game 4 - Teheran v. Cingrani
Hudson likes facing the Reds. In 63 ABs, the Reds lineup only holds a .224 average against Huddy with a solitary homer by Jay Bruce. Votto and Phillips, the traditional Reds All-Stars, do not hit Tim well at all with slugging averages under .200 combined. If we can keep those two mashers at bay, the Braves chances to win skyrocket. Those chances get even bigger when the Braves face a guy like Latos, whom they rip up for a .302 lineup average with combined slugging of .500 in 96 ABs. In particular, McCann, Justin, Freddie, and CJ feast on this guy. On paper, it's a mismatch in favor the Braves. HOWEVER, Latos has a 2-2 record against the Braves in the last 3 years, and Huddy has only pitched against the Reds once in the last 3 years. It was a win, though. I like the Braves in this one.
Kris Medlen finally saw some support in his last 4 starts, and as a result he went 3-1. He had a bad outing in his last game against Philly where he got into big trouble early on the road. As usual, road games have been a problem for most of our starters this season. However, Kris at home has an ERA of 2.83 with a 3-1 record since the beginning of June. He pitched very well in his lone outing in Cincy this year, but the bullpen botched the game. As a result, he has middle of the road stats against the Reds lineup, but he has some key hitters to avoid. Highest on that list would be Mr. Votto. I don't want him in a position to beat us if there's a base open. Arroyo started strong and has since cooled off with a string of losses and no decisions. He's been Jeckyll and Hyde with his home/away splits, and bad Mr. Hyde shows up on the road. His 5.70 away ERA scares nobody, and .311 average against the Braves lineup strikes fear in even less hitters. Freddie and BMac absolutely own this guy, with CJ a close second. I'd actually give Heyward the day off in this game if we had another option in the outfield, but Reed Johnson doesn't hit him well either. So, we'll likely roll with the regular lineup and hope for the best with RISP.
Game 3 will be a day game with Mike Minor trying to get his first win decision since June 9th. Can you believe that? It's been that long, yes. The Braves have won 2 of his starts in the interim, but never while he was on the mound. Most of that is Mike's fault, though. He had a sequence of bad starts in a row where he gave up 3 to 4 runs in 4 games. Finally he righted the ship against Miami in the 1-1 affair that went 14. He obviously didn't get the win there, but he deserved it. Now we hope he can channel that energy against a Reds lineup that he has absolutely carved up in the past. 45 ABs with a .156 average, 2 homers, 1 double, and an OPS under .600. That's absurd. You take away the homers and he's basically pitching shutout ball. He won his last start against the Reds in May 7-2, facing off against Mike Leake. This time he gets Homer Bailey who has been much tougher. Bailey pitched the no-hitter against the Giants two starts ago, and then promptly came off that with a 4 run flop against the Brewers. Bailey, despite that one shining moment in June, hasn't been sharp since the beginning of the season. In fact, the Reds have only won 3 of his last 10 starts. Some of that is Bailey, some of that is the Reds not hitting. Because he can show these moments of brilliance, the Braves lineup has major issues hitting him. Bailey is a strikeout artist (uh-oh), and we fall prey to that as a team. With 114 on the season, Bailey is in the top 10 in Ks in the NL. Be ready for a pitching war in this game, as it could go either way.
Teheran should have more wins. With the exception of an awful games against the Padres, he's been lights out, and he pulled some very bad luck from a support standpoint earlier in the year. That being said, he's formed a pattern of win-loss-win-loss-win-loss in his last 8 games. To break the streak, he'd have to win in this matchup. He's never faced the Reds, so we have no real idea what will happen, but I usually like the better pitcher vs. a lineup that hasn't seen him before. The Reds toss Cingrani at us who (guess what) the Braves have never seen before. There's no stat advantage in this game because the stats don't exist. That terrifies me as a numbers guy. I HAVE NO NUMBERS. PANIC!
The CPA swept the predictions in the Marlins series, moving to 46-30. What does it think about tonight?
CPA Prediction Game 1: Braves 5 - Reds 2
Hudson pitches better against the Reds than Latos pitches against the Braves. It's that simple. All the Braves have to do is follow through on their end of the bargain and make contact. The rest is just inevitable stats.