Apr 14, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton (2) is congratulated by Atlanta Braves first baseman Chris Johnson (23) after scoring a run during the sixth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
After yet another sweep, the Braves have the out-of-this-world record of 11-1, and after an off-day, it is time to welcome the Kansas City Royals for a quick, two-game set. Let’s take a look at what to expect.
Tuesday, April 16th – 7:10 PM ET – Jeremy Guthrie vs. Kris Medlen
Obviously, the headline is that Atlanta is going for 10 straight victories in this one. Kris Medlen was considered by many to be the “staff ace” heading into the year, and while he hasn’t been as electric as he was in the second half of 2012, he’s gotten the job done. There is some concern about his 6 walks in 12 innings (and only 4 strikeouts), but if Medlen can get his normally pinpoint control back, he’ll quickly be dominant. On the KC side, Guthrie is a solid right-handed veteran, and it’ll be interesting to see what lineup composition Fredi goes with here. Look for Medlen to take advantage of a lineup with some strikeout holes, and potentially improve on his peripherals from his first two starts.
Wednesday, April 17th – 12:10 PM ET – Wade Davis vs. Mike Minor
Mike Minor is pitching out of his mind right now. He has allowed 3 or less runs in 16 of 18 starts, and after finishing 2012 with a 2.16 ERA after the All-Star break, he has started 2013 with 13 innings of 1-run baseball (0.69 ERA). Needless to say, if he can maintain this level, Atlanta will have no problem taking care of Kansas City here. On the bump for the Royals is Wade Davis, the former Tampa Bay uber-prospect who had a big-time year in relief last year, but he’s been unable to duplicate that success as a full-time starter. Keep an eye on his stuff throughout the start, as his relief success has directly correlated with a much higher strikeout rate, and if the Braves can make some contact (remember, the lineup is filled with high-K guys), that would be a positive sign.
Personally, I can’t remember the last time that I saw the Braves play a two-game series against an AL club, so that is interesting in itself. Aside from that, however, it is an opportunity for Atlanta to keep up their insane momentum against an inferior opponent (KC enters the series at 7-5, but most projections have them sub-.500 for the season) and every win counts. Stay tuned.