I'm already hearing from local radio personalities, fans, blogs, and other sources that this series will mark the end of the Braves season. That when the Braves lose this series that formally removes them from all playoff contentions before the All-Star break. That's ridiculous. The Braves were in the lead last year of the division on this date. They lost by 17 games. The Dodgers in 2013 were 4 games out on this date, and won their division by 11 games.
In fact, remove the 8-1 record against the Nationals. You know what the Braves would be in the standings? 3 games over .500 instead of 4 games under it. And that's playing without Freddie for a big stretch, a terrible bullpen, and a rotating door of starting pitchers. The hitting talent is there on this team to make a run, the starting rotation is getting sorted out, and the bullpen is slowly crawling out of the crapper. I think the team can compete, they just have to not bury themselves against the Nationals for the rest of the season.
Game 1 - Miller v. Zimmerman
Game 2 - Wisler v. Fister
Game 3 - Banuelos v. Scherzer
OK so it doesn't look great on paper. Shelby Miller is probably the best shot at a win since he's a 1.59 ERA at home with an opposing team average of .214 on the season. That's compared to Zimmerman's road woes with a 5.40 ERA and a .338 opposing average. You're not going to get a better matchup, other than the fact the guy who hits Zimmerman the hardest (Freeman) won't play in the game. That means guys like Nick Markakis (OPS .840 against Zimmerman), and Kelly Johnson (.357 average off Zimmerman) will have to step up as difference-makers.
Wisler is still too brand new to really critique, but you hope he can hold up against the Washington hitters better than he did in DC when he was rocked for a 7-0 defeat. Then again, if the Braves are determined to score 0 runs, no amount of pitching will help. That being said, Doug Fister has been a Braves killer in Washington, but he lost the only game the Braves took from the Nationals this season when he was last in Atlanta. So, you hope that the bad road version of Fister shows up, and that version has a 4.87 ERA in 4 games with a 1-2 record.
Who the heck is Manny Banuelos? He'll be making his MLB debut most likely against the former Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who threw a no-hitter 10 days ago, and has given up exactly 2 runs in his last 26 innings. GOOD LUCK KID! Make sure to apply the Desitin directly to the burning area on your body.
Other Key Players
- AJ Pierzynski - He's hitting 11/33 off Scherzer lifetime with a homer, double, and triple. He's probably the only guy who can hit him. We'd need the miracle homer from AJ with maybe a walk, and win the game 2-1 if we have a shot.
- Jace Peterson - Jace is hitting 3-27 over the last 7 days. I need him to be better than that in this series if we're going to have a chance. He's likely the lead-off guy or at the very least a top of the order guy that needs to get on base.
- Juan Uribe - Juan may get a start in this series, and ever more important he's going to be called on off the bench to be a key hitter at some point. We'll need him to be a guy who drives in the big run in this series.
The CPA went 3-0 in the last series which is great! It was also right that the Braves would lose the series, which sucks. But the number climbs to 28-37 as I slowly get back to .500 on the year.
Game 1 - Braves by 1
Game 2 - Nats by 3
Game 3 - Nats by 2
CPA says we lose this series too. Frankly, I don't blame it. This is a tough row to hoe. But we're about to get a much easier schedule and possibly some better matchups next week. So have faith! We're not out of this yet!