Well I'm back, and I'm better rested from a week of basically no baseball. But now, I'm ready for the Braves to get things going so I have something functional to watch on TV. You ever try to watch TV in the summer that's not baseball related? It's garbage. And no, I do not want to watch made-up award shows, ridiculous singing competitions, or people being launched into targets. You're bad TV. You're bad and you should be ashamed of yourself. This is why people are going to Netflix in droves.
On to the matchups!
Game 1 - Teheran v. Hendricks
Game 2 - Banuelos v. Lester
Game 3 - Miller v. Arrieta
The first game brings back Home Julio, which is the good Julio as you well know by now. The Braves won 4 of the last 5 Home Julio starts, and they look to make this win number five. That's if they can suffer the loss of Freddie Freeman who is still out for more than 23 games and counting. It's a shame too, because the Braves are facing a pitcher they've never really seen before in Kyle Hendricks, and they could use Freddie's "see-ball-hit-ball" approach that doesn't require a lot of film or study. Still, Hendricks will provide a decent foil for Julio as Kyle's had a few struggles on the road with a 4.24 ERA and a 3-2 record with a .276 opp average. Julio hasn't given up an earned run at home since June 16th against the Padres. If the Braves don't rebound in this matchup, they likely won't all series.
Game two pits newbie Manny Banuelos against Jon Lester, who many of you will remember as a Boston Red Sox player for so many years. Manny is still building his brand so to speak, but I like the foundation he's laid out with only one earned run in 3 appearances. Jon Lester is having a very average year for himself at 31 years old with a 3.58 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and a .712 opp OPS. But average Lester is better than most pitchers out there, even if he is making $145M over 6 years. Yes, you read that right. You thought we had tough contracts in Atlanta? Imagine paying $25M for a guy with an ERA in the mid 3's, and a 4-8 record. Yeah.
The final match features our ill-supported Shelby Miller against the very well-supported Jake Arrieta. The Cubs have scored an average of 5.3 runs a game for Jake over his last 10 starts. The Braves have scored 2.4 runs in Shelby's last 10 starts. So, if you're terrible at math, just know that Jake is getting more than twice the runs a game that Shelby is. That probably explains why Jake has a 10-5 record, and Shelby has a 5-5 record, even though Shelby's ERA is 2.38 and Jake's is 2.66. Have no doubt, these are both incredible pitchers right now, but until the Braves prove they can actually score runs when Shelby pitches? I never believe they'll win one of his games the rest of the season.
Other Notable Players:
- AJ Pierzynski - Keep your eye on AJ in this series, as he's now had some much needed rest, and he's got very positive career numbers off both Lester and Arrieta.
- Andrelton Simmons - Simmons has been awful hitting the ball over his last week of games, with a paltry .176 average and no extra bases. But like AJ, he's had luck against Lester and Arrieta lifetime. If he's going to turn it around, it needs to be now.
- Anthony Rizzo - The Cubs first baseman and All-Star is absolutely murdering baseballs right now. You can let anybody else on the club beat you, but it can't be this guy. If Rizzo has a huge series, it's because Braves pitchers are stupid and gave him melons to hit. And that's bad planning even in melon season.
OK, so the first half was bad. The CPA went 32-42 in the first half games it picked. I'm resetting the counter in the second half because it's my blog and it's my rules. And it makes me feel better. I'll total at the end anyway so don't worry.
Game 1 - Braves by 1
Game 2 - Cubs by 2
Game 3 - Cubs by 2
The CPA likes home Julio, but hates the rest due to the Braves low scoring totals without Freeman in the lineup. He's worth almost 2 runs a game right now if you just look at total averages with and without him. That's crazy.
Anyway, hopefully the Braves edge out a series win, because a loss will just reinforce the Dark Side trade deadline fire sale. A sweep would be a disaster unlike anything we've seen this season. So pick up your heads, Braves. Play hard and score some runs!