The White Sox are a bad team. However, the Braves are playing them on the road, so that hasn't really mattered much. What has mattered is the Braves schizophrenic hitting the ball once they leave Georgia. Today they begin the series against a team that has absolute zero shot at the postseason. You hope that in these road stretches the opposing teams that are already eliminated simply wave the white flag and fold up shop. One way you can make sure of that is to take early leads. You hear that Braves? TAKE EARLY LEADS! How long has it been since the Braves had an early lead for more than a half inning? July 6th against the Phillies when they won 13-4. That's the last time. Man. We need to fix that as a team. On to the matchups!
Game 1 - Hudson (6-7) v. Danks (2-6)
Game 2 - Maholm (9-8) v. Peavy (6-4)
Game 3 - Minor (9-4) v. Quintana (4-2)
I'll go ahead and say I hate the Game 1 matchup. Hudson has been drilled by the White Sox hitters in the past to the tune of a .333 average in 96 ABs. This is no small sample size, a couple of guys really tee off on him. Dunn and Keppinger can absolutely ruin the Braves day if Huddy can't get the ball down, and judging by his run totals in the last 5 games, that's a serious concern. The win/loss difference is that Huddy has been the recipient of some favorable run scoring by the Braves, which was a nice change of pace from the majority of June. John Danks has destroyed this lineup in the past. In 45 ABs, they are batting a .178 average with a solo shot by BJ Upton, and he's on the DL. Freeman and Simmons have never seen Danks, and neither has CJ, however I'm concerned that Freeman won't play this series at all. Still, it can't be worse that what Danks has done to McCann, Justin, and Heyward lifetime. It's a mismatch on paper and I don't like it at all.
Maholm has been awful lately. There's no hiding it. A 6.97 ERA in his last two games, with two losses. In 4 of his last 6 starts, he gave up 4 earned runs. Even worse, he had no control against the Marlins in his last outing and he walked 5 guys. There's a reason that people are whispering about his removal from the rotation, and it's because he's been unable to perform in July thus far. He needs this win and he knows it. Luckily for him and us, he holds down the White Sox lineup very well at a .247 average, with only Keppinger as the main problem. The Braves will have to watch out for him all weekend. Peavy will be coming off the DL in time to face the Braves, so it's hard to gauge how he reacts. Historical trends tell you that he will struggle with Justin and McCann, but they also tell you that his home splits are remarkably more dominant than the road. His home ERA clocks in at 1.88 in 4 games, and he's never lost a decision. This one could be another mismatch if Maholm isn't really on his game, or if McCann and Justin can't rough up Peavy.
Minor is our best shot at a win in the stats column. Minor is coming off two wins where he went 13 innings with only 3 earned runs. He's coming off the break hot, and he hopes to keep the ball rolling against a lineup he's mostly never seen. The one guy he's had trouble with, say it with me, KEPPINGER. See what I mean? We should just bean the guy and move on with the order. Minor is actually one of the few guys we have that's better on the road. 6-1 record, 2.50 ERA, he seems to lock it in and keep the ball moving. I can't think of a better guy to pitch in an anchor game. Quintana is a guy the Braves have never faced (NGGGGGGH my heart), so we all know what comes with that territory by now. I really really REALLY hope that the lineup can hit him, but lord knows at this point. I can't even honestly tell you who will play in this game since it's a day game and we have injuries. Just go make it happen and Minor will do the rest.
Now for the CPA Predictions for the weekend:
CPA Prediction Game 1: White Sox 5 - Braves 2
CPA Prediction Game 2: White Sox 4 - Braves 1
CPA Prediction Game 3: Braves 4 - White Sox 2
The first two games are a consequence of two pitchers who have wretched road records. The CPA won't favor Tim or Paul on the road because their ERAs are horribly inflated, and because their combined decisions record is 6-13. No matter the opponent, no matter the ranking, they've been roughed up by some bad outings away from Turner. The last game is a theory that the Braves will rip up a young kid who struggles with long ball hitters. A bad Philly team clubbed him for 3 runs in his last outing, so you hope we can add to his misery for some homers of our own.