After a rough beginning to the weekend series with the Brewers, the Braves rallied to grab Sunday’s finale, and as a result, have a little of bit of momentum as the team heads to Kansas City for a short, two-game set. Here’s what we can expect.
Tuesday, June 25th – 8:10 PM ET – Ervin Santana vs. Kris Medlen
Tuesday’s opener brings a tall test for the Atlanta lineup in the form of Ervin Santana. “Big Erv” is just 5-5 on the season, but as we regularly tell you, win-loss record means virtually nothing, and that is especially true here. Santana has posted a blistering 2.64 ERA with a staggering 0.98 WHIP this season, and when you factor in that his walk rate is a microscopic 1.36 BB/9, it is easy to see why he’s been dominant. On the bright side for the Braves, Santana is a power right-hander, and while that wouldn’t seem to be a “positive”, it’s a far cry from the soft-tossing lefty “nobody” that usually eats the Braves up. Kris Medlen gets the ball for Atlanta, and he’s coming off of a big-time outing in his last start. While Wednesday’s outing against the Mets will be remembered more for his bone-headed defensive play that allowed 2 unearned runs, Medlen pitched very well (7 IP, 7 K, 0 BB) and this Royals lineup isn’t a scary one. On paper, it isn’t an advantage on the mound for Atlanta, but it’s probably near a coin-flip, and the Braves have the far superior lineup and bullpen.
Wednesday, June 26th – 8:10 PM ET – Luis Mendoza vs. Mike Minor
Mike Minor Day! It hasn’t been the international holiday in recent days (lol) that it was earlier in the year, but I’m not terribly worried about Minor. He’s allowed 4 earned runs in back-to-back outings, but the control has been there (3 walks in 12 innings), and he matches up very favorably with the Royals left-handed bats. The Braves offense squares off with 29-year-old Luis Mendoza, and it’s a favorable opponent. Mendoza has been better recently, but his 4.30 ERA (4.62 FIP) and <2.0 K/BB rate indicate that he’s ripe for an offensive explosion. Left-handers are slugging .500 against Mendoza this season, and it could be a big-time day for guys like Brian McCann and Jason Heyward if things break the right way.
It’s a short trip to Missouri for the Braves, but it could easily be a profitable one for Atlanta. This team is in need of a “sweep”, and even if it is only over two games, it would be big for momentum to kick things into high gear as the team moves toward the All-Star break. Stay tuned for game-by-game coverage.