I didn't expect the Braves to win the series against a hot Dodgers team, but they really surprised me this week. Coming off a very lackluster finish before the All-Star break, they've come out guns blazing with the bats.
The Braves scored 12 runs in the series on their way to both wins. They could have won the third game if they just came up with a bit more offense, but I imagine for a team that's struggling to score that was asking a lot. Either way, the real hero of the games was Nick Markakis who went 4/7 with 4 runs scored in the two wins. I like the way Nick is swinging the bat right now, plus he got his fist homer of the year in that series. Who could have called that? THAT'S RIGHT ME IN THE LAST BLOG! WHEEEEE!
On to the matchups with the Cardinals:
Game 1 - Banuelos v. Cooney
Game 2 - Miller v. Martinez
Game 3 - Wisler v. Wacha
Instead of breaking down the pitching, I'm going to focus on what the teams do well. Starting with the Cardinals, their main strength is their pitching staff which has a team ERA of 2.68 on the season. That would be the best ERA in the majors across the board. Honestly, they aren't a great offensive team, but when you can pitch like the Cardinals are pitching? It barely matters as long as you can score 3 runs a game. Almost no other team can boast that.
For the Braves, the only thing they are doing well is starting pitching, as they have the 11th best ERA in the MLB. The problem is that Atlanta without Freddie Freeman has been well off their scoring pace, which usually means they can't win games without scoring 4 runs, and the bullpen is still lackluster. And without Freeman they usually aren't. And that's a shame.
So how will the games fare? Well in all three games, it will all be pitchers under the age of 25 facing each other. That will be fun to watch for a guy like me that really loves watching new talent. The Cardinals and the Braves are both in the middle of pitching youth movement, but the Cardinals have the money and power to back up their young guns with a whole myriad of solid hitting stars.
Key Players to Watch:
Kelly Johnson - Assuming he doesn't get traded during the season, Kelly has been raking in the month of July, with a .925 OPS and 3 homers.
AJ Pierzynski - AJ is now hitting .314 on the month with 2 homers, and 4 doubles. How the hell did he get 4 doubles? That's either perfectly placed balls or really bad fielding, because AJ ain't a speedster.
Jason Heyward - It's time. Jason will face the Braves, and even better he'll face Shelby Miller in a perfect trade confrontation. The downside of that? Jason is 2/7 off Shelby with a homer.
The CPA is 5-1 on the second half and finally looking decent. Probably because I restarted the counter, and the Braves are playing like a normal baseball team. Let's see what it thinks about the Cards.
Game 1 - Braves by 1
Game 2 - Cardinals by 2
Game 3 - Cardinals by 5
The CPA thinks the Braves lose this one on the road. The problem is really game 3, where Wacha destroys Wisler. I think Wisler will have huge problems with the Cards lineup, while the Braves have had a hard time Wacha who has been amazing at home. But then again, the CPA has been wrong before, maybe they pull this one out. Weirder things have happened if they start to score some runs.