Greetings! The Braves arrive home coming off of a winning series in Miami, and the positive momentum has returned. Let’s take a look at what’s on tap for the weekend series with the Padres.
Friday, September 13th – 7:30 PM ET – Ian Kennedy vs. David Hale
Kennedy! Hale! It’s Major League Baseball on SportSouth! (copyright, Bill Simmons)
If you can’t tell, this pitching match-up is less than exciting other than the fact that David Hale is making his Major League debut. In 114.2 innings at AAA this season, Hale has a solid 3.22 ERA, but he’s considered (for the most part) to be a non-prospect who is getting this opportunity as a pure injury fill-in. Fortunately for the Braves, he’ll be opposed by Ian Kennedy, who has been a complete mess this season. Kennedy went 21-4 in 2011, but he’s fallen off the cliff since then, which is personified by his 4.86 ERA in 164.2 innings between Arizona and San Diego this season. It’s too early to bail on him as a long-term option, but for now, his right-handed arsenal isn’t scary against this Braves lineup. Lastly, the lineup will be something to watch in this series, as Fredi Gonzalez is apparently taking the stance that the team is better off without BJ Upton and Dan Uggla down the stretch, and frankly, I couldn’t disagree with this philosophy any more.
Saturday, September 14th – 7:10 PM ET – Robbie Erlin vs. Kris Medlen
Kris Medlen gets the ball on Saturday, and he’s been tremendous lately. I’ve used this stat in recent days, but it still applies, as Medlen has allowed 3 runs or fewer in 7 consecutive starts. With that outburst, he’s lowered his ERA to 3.46 on the season, and the early-season whispers about Medlen’s ineffectiveness have been silenced with his stellar performance. For the Padres, Robbie Erlin is making the 7th start of his MLB career, and he has a 5.56 ERA in 34 big-league innings. At 22 years old, he has a fairly high upside for the Padres, and his left-handedness can always cause issues for Atlanta. However, he’s a bit green at this stage, and this is a clear advantage for the Braves.
Sunday, September 15th – 1:35 PM ET – Burch Smith vs. Julio Teheran
In the finale, the Braves are blessed with a match-up against the one and only Burch Smith. He is currently posting a 9.17 ERA (no, really) in 17.2 innings (over 4 starts and 7 appearances), and that’s pretty much indicative of the type of pitcher he appears to be. Walks have been the issue for Smith (5.6 BB/9 in the Majors), and this is the wrong lineup to have that issue against. Yikes. For the Braves, Julio Teheran gets the ball, and he was tremendous after he shook off the rust in the 1st-inning in Miami. It seems redundant at this stage, but this is another pitching advantage for Atlanta.
Seeing the Padres walk through the doors at Turner Field is a pleasant, September surprise for Atlanta. They are firmly out of the race for anything at 66-79, and this is an opportunity for the Braves to chip away at the magic number (currently at 6) over the weekend.
Stay tuned for game-by-game analysis in this space as it happens!