Hey, you're still reading! Good for you on not completely falling into the total pit of despair this team crams us into weekly with a woeful smile. I fully expect at some point many of you will simply give up around mid-June and stop caring. And that's fine when the team is spinning its wheels in a rebuild. But in the meantime I'll try to stay entertaining as we wallow in self-pity together. On to the matchups!
Game 1 - Wisler v. Morgan
Game 2 - Chacin v. Eickhoff
Game 3 - Blair v. Velasquez
Let's cover what we know about the Braves starters so far. Wisler is coming off probably the best pitching performance on the road that I've seen out of a Braves pitcher in years. He pitched a 1-hitter against the Mets in NYC and got the win. But he was nowhere near that good in his other starts. In 3 of his other 4 games he gave up 12 total runs, and his last outing before the 1-hitter was a 5 run buttkicking in Boston. So, the question for me is: Can the Kid perform back-to-back?
Chacin is the wild card for the Braves that I keep expecting to be traded or moved, but he has to establish some sort of value for that to happen. After an 8 run disaster in NYC, that value is currently low. He needs to rebound with this start and show he can get a quality start (6 innings, 3 runs or less) or he's going to be looking for other employment. Aaron Blair will not have to worry about such things, as he's brand new and learning his way. So far, Blair hasn't pitched in a win yet, but it's not for a lack of trying. His worst outing was a 3 run affair against the Mets, his best was a 2-hitter against the Cubs where he got zero support. If they can actually HIT for Blair, he's good enough to give you a win.
But the Braves aren't facing the funny Phillies of years past with bloated contracts and no real functional talent. No, they are also rebuilding, and that effort has so far succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Can it last? No. The Phillies are 18-14 and winning 1-run margin games at a clip of 10-3, which just won't last. They aren't that good. By comparison the Braves have only been in 7 games with a margin of a run, and they've lost 5. That's because for the other 18 losses, they got nailed to a wall. So even though the Phillies are out over their skis, they are still keeping a lot of games close enough to have a chance. The Braves aren't.
Adam Morgan has one year of experience under his belt in the majors, and so far I'm not all that impressed with the young lefty. His main problem is he gives up an absolutely absurd amount of home runs. Which is a major problem if you walk guys, or if you're facing a power team. Guess what the Braves aren't? A power team. They are just the right kind of tonic for a kid with a 4.63 career ERA and a 1.56 WHIP on the season. If Morgan keeps it in the ballpark, and judging by the lineup he will, then he's trouble. Why? Because the Braves are hitting lefty pitchers at a .214/.273/.256 slash line. Which would be dead last in the majors.
Jerad Eickhoff is basically another rookie who has 14 starts under his belt, and a 6.00+ ERA when he leaves home. AT 6'4" and 247 pounds, he's a big kid who can rack up a ton of strikeouts, and he's got pretty good command with a 1.16 WHIP. What I like about Eickhoff is he improved his command from his days in the minors, he's got good velocity that can get up into the low-90s, and he's really improved his slider/curve combo. His change-up is still rather blah, and if he leaves it up in the zone, it's leaving the ballpark in a hurry. He's exactly the kind of pitcher the Braves usually struggle against with the K's the and breaking stuff, so I'm interested to see if they can put some pressure on Eickhoff on the basepaths.
Vince Velasquez has 13 career starts, and he's third defacto rookie the Braves see in this series. He's also the best of the three pitchers across the board so far. A 2.17 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 44 Ks in just 6 games. He's given up only 3 homers, and has an opp avg of .188. He's a stud in the making, and his scouting report says he's got a 95 mph fastball that he pairs with a devastating changeup and a decent curve. His major problem has been injuries as he had Tommy John in 2011, and he's suffered various strains though out his minor league career. However, now that he's healthy and in the show, the Phillies have an incredible starter on their hands.
The CPA predicted that the Braves would win the series, and they got swept. So yeah that was way off. 16-12 now on the season, and I'm not sure it likes this series at all. Let's find out.
Game 1 - Braves by 1
Game 2 - Phillies by 2
Game 3 - Phillies by 4
OK so we might win a game. We're setting the bar low here. Let's just hop over it and finally win a SECOND home game. Geez.