Friday, August 16, 2013

Weekend Series Preview: Nats in Turner Field (possibly with rain)

The weather here in the Atlanta area has taken a surprising turn towards the cool and rainy. As someone who hates the hot weather in August, I'm very pleased. As a baseball fan, I just hope it doesn't give us even more rain delays than usual on our Braves games. On to the matchups!

Game 1 - Wood (2-2) v. Jordan (1-3)
Game 2 - Minor (12-5) v. Strasburg (6-9)
Game 3 - Teheran (9-6) v. Gonzalez (7-5)

You want to talk about a game where I have absolutely no idea what to expect? Game 1 is that game. You have Alex Wood facing a Nats lineup he's never seen, and you have Taylor Jordan facing a Braves lineup he's never seen. Two rookie guys with literally less than 50 innings of MLB work are going to be twirling the ball in a game tonight, and nobody has a freaking clue what could happen. Then again, that's never stopped me from making a semi-educated guess. What I know is that Alex Wood has been much better in his home games with a 2.39 ERA and 1-1 record, but that also includes some of his pen work. In 3 home starts he's only given up 3 earned runs, so I like what the kid has done inside Turner Field against teams like the Marlins, Rockies, and Reds. However, the results have been mixed on the bottom line of wins, and that falls a good bit on his offensive support. In fact, we lost a game 0-1 against the Marlins because the Braves couldn't score a run at all. Wood was a ND in that outing. Taylor Jordan has been pretty consistent in his home/road splits, but that consistency isn't necessarily good. He's posted a 4.22 road ERA, slightly above his 4.14 overall ERA, but his hit totals are shockingly high. MLB hitters have been able to toast him for 52 hits in 45 innings, and he's only walked 8 guys. That means his rather high WHIP of 1.31 is mostly hits, and that can bear succulent fruit for a Braves club that can really jump on a starter leaving fat seeds over the middle of the dish.

Minor against Strasburg. I think I've seen this before. Heck, I'm sure I saw this a couple weeks ago. In that outing, neither starter factored in the decision, but it ended up as a Braves 3-2 win courtesy of Tyler Clippard. Here's what we know about the two pitchers when they face off. Mike is good at home, but not great. He averages out around a 3.00 ERA inside Turner Field, but the shocking stat is that he has double the amount of homers surrendered at the Ted as opposed to other parks. The good news is that he has half the amount of walks. So while Mike is more likely to pitch to contact in Atlanta, that also opens him up to the long ball. Mike should watch out for Ramos if he gets the start, because that guy has lit him up for 5 hits in 7 ABs including a bomb. Strasburg on the road has been a complete disaster for the most part. He's 1-5 in decisions with a 4.88 ERA, 7 homers, and an almost 2-1 K/BB ratio. Comparatively at home he's had a 7-1 K/BB ratio with a 1.58 ERA. He really hates leaving Washington for some reason. There are some weird stats with Stephen against the Braves. One of them is that whoever happens to play middle infield (with Dan out and Pastornicky having ACL surgery), they haven't had a hit. Janish and Simmons are a combined 0-14 career against the power righty. However, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman post averages well over .400 against Strasburg, and Brian McCann is .300+ with a bomb. We'll need a few knocks by the Uptons (traditionally not great off Stephen) if we want to get even.

Teheran and Gonzalez anchor the series with a Sunday matchup that should provide some pop. Teheran has had his toughest time in the division against the Nationals in 4 games with a 3.75 ERA. Gonzalez has had his toughest time in the division against the Braves in 4 games with a 5.87 ERA. The amount of starters with .300 averages off each guy is staggering. In fact at last count, I think the Braves have 4, and the Nationals have 4. With 8 guys possibly playing in the game that can hit like that situationally, runs could get up there. HOWEVER, I said that last time in Washington and the game ended up being a 2-1 win for the Braves. And the time before that in Atlanta it was a 2-1 win for the Braves. Maybe this time it will be a 2-1 win for the Braves? Probably not though, because baseball doesn't repeat itself THAT often.

Now for some CPA (64-40) which was a run off the score on Game 3 of the Phillies. Let's see how it feels about the games this weekend, including the first game between a pair of unknowns.

CPA Prediction Game 1: Nats 4 - Braves 2
CPA Prediction Game 2: Braves 5 - Nats 4
CPA Prediction Game 3: Braves 4 - Nats 1

The CPA favors the Braves in all of these games except the first one. The reason being is that the Braves traditionally don't hit well off unseen pitching, and the weather looks dicey. Couple those two things together and it's not a good recipe for the Braves victory. In the other two games though? The Braves look strong with Minor and Teheran on the mound. All they need is a few early runs to settle in, and the Nats will fold like cheap cardboard while the Braves take another series win.

GO BRAVES!

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