Monday, October 7, 2013

NLDS Game 3 Recap and Game 4 Preview

What can you say when you get your teeth kicked in? At least that isn't the last game we get to play. Teheran didn't have it from the get-go, and the Braves pitching was truly awful all night. Teheran gave up 6, Wood gave up 4 with the help of some errors (Atlanta had 2 of those), and Walden gave up 3. When you managed to give up 13 runs in a playoff game, I'm going to say that absolutely nothing you do at the plate is going to matter. And it didn't. The Braves scored 6, which should have been more than enough to win this thing, but as it turned out that number didn't even match half the Dodgers run production. So much for good pitching and the long ball. The Braves didn't have much of either so far this series.

The top end of the Braves order has been great. Gattis, Freeman, Justin, and Heyward are all hitting very well here at the end of the year. Gattis is 5-10, CJ is 4-12 with 4 RBIs, Freeman is 4-12, and Heyward is 3-13 with 4 RBIs. Simmons also has a couple of hits and an RBI to his name. Everyone else? They stink so far. Justin is a mediocre 2-11 with 2 runs scored, Elliot Johnson and Brian McCann both have no hits in a combined 19 ABs. The Braves in Game 3 went 3-11 with RISP. Not terrible, but not optimal either. The Dodgers on the other hand went 7-15 with RISP. That alone should tell you how the game went. When the situational hitting battle is that one-sided, your pitching staff is to blame.

We can't dwell on that game if the Braves hope to pull this series out of the fire one more time and bring it back to Atlanta. In a highly controversial move, Fredi Gonzalez has decided to pitch Freddy Garcia instead of electing to put Medlen back in the rotation on short rest. I can understand the decision for a couple of reasons. Medlen was already awful in his first start on full rest, and it's unlikely he's going to be any better on the short rest version. Also, Medlen isn't a strikeout guy anyway, so there isn't a huge advantage from one contact pitcher to another except for mentality. I think the manager is gambling that his veteran playoff experienced starter is going to know how to battle with runners on base. That's what's really killed the Braves. It's not the simple mistakes, it's how those mistakes have absolutely snowballed until they buried this team under an avalanche of hits. Here's another idea. STOP PITCHING TO HANLEY RAMIREZ!

So here's the rundown on the matchup: Garcia had a 1.65 ERA in September with the Braves, and a record of 1-2. The record was bad because the Braves scored nothing for him twice in that month. September wasn't exactly the highlight of the Braves offensive prowess. On the other side you have Ricky Nolasco, a Marlins castoff the Braves have tons of experience against. In September, Nolasco got lit up for a 6.66 ERA with a 2-2 record. The Braves lineup has smashed him for an almost .300 team average in the past, with special highlights by Heyward and McCann since they both have OPS numbers over 1.000 against Nolasco in 80+ ABs. The matchup looks good from that standpoint, and you know the Dodgers wouldn't be pitching Nolasco if they were in an elimination scenario. The Braves will just have to capitalize on their chances and hope Garcia gives them some old-man-magic.

The CPA predicted the Dodgers would win last night, but it was way off on the total of runs. Today it looks at the elimination game.

CPA Prediction NLDS Game 4: Braves 5 - Dodgers 3

The CPA likes the Braves to extend this thing just a little longer. Hopefully they can get some guys on base early and cut down on all the silly errors in the field. That will go a long way in keeping the lineup mentally in the game. Also, since they have so much experience off Nolasco, they can use that to their advantage up and down the lineup. Also, you hope that Nolasco is just the tonic Brian McCann needs to get off the shnide and go deep.

GO BRAVES!

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