Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) is congratulated after he hits a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Despite managing just a split with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Braves are playing well, having won the final 2 games at Chavez Ravine. As they arrive in San Diego for three games, let’s take a look at what to expect.
Monday, June 10th – 10:10 PM ET – Jason Marquis vs. Julio Teheran
Don’t look now, but Julio Teheran has been unbelievable in recent days. Teheran has allowed only 7 earned runs total over his last 5 starts (35.2 innings), and he has lowered his ERA to a sparkling 3.30 for the season. In addition, his strikeout rate has climbed a bit as a result of 29 strikeouts in those 35.2 innings, and his solid walk rate of 2.23 per 9 innings is keeping him afloat despite the average K-rate. He’s been tremendous, and the friendly confines of pitcher-friendly Petco Park can only serve to help him on Monday night. He’ll be opposed by former Brave Jason Marquis, and he’s been the picture of mediocre (at best) for a few years. He enters Monday’s game with a fairly solid 3.73 ERA, but his FIP is a dreadful 5.78 and he’s walking nearly as many batters (4.89 BB/9) as he is striking out batters (5.91 K/9) on the season. Yikes. In short, this is an advantage for Atlanta.
Tuesday, June 11th – 10:10 PM ET – Andrew Cashner vs. Tim Hudson
Game Two is probably the most intriguing pitching match-up of the series. Andrew Cashner is a high-caliber pitcher in terms of his arsenal, with a high-90’s fastball and a career strikeout rate of over 8 per 9 innings. That electric “stuff” hasn’t been on full display this year (as evidenced by his 6.50 K/9), but he’s probably the most talented pitcher on the staff for San Diego. He’ll square off with Tim Hudson, who, in recent days, has looked like the Tim Hudson of old. His ERA is a fairly high 4.48 on the year, but Hudson is coming off two starts where he threw 14.1 innings while allowing just 1 run and 1 walk. Petco Park doesn’t help a ground-ball pitcher like Hudson as much as other pitchers, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and I believe this should be the third consecutive quality outing from Hudson.
Wednesday, June 12th – 3:40 PM ET – Edinson Volquez vs. Paul Maholm
In the finale, the Braves get to face Edinson Volquez, and that’s generally a positive thing for the opposition. Volquez’s career walk-rate of 4.86 per 9 is staggeringly high, and against a team that takes walks as effectively as Atlanta, he could be in big trouble here. The positive for him is that he is a high-strikeout pitcher, but his right-handed arsenal doesn’t favor well against this lineup, and this should be a good spot for the Braves bats to break out. Paul Maholm toes the rubber for Atlanta, and he’s righted the ship recently. After struggling a bit, Maholm has thrown back-to-back positive outings, allowing 2 runs or less in each, and getting back to his ground-ball ways. There is always the possibility that Volquez could be locked in and throw a gem with his hit-or-miss stuff, but this is a favorable spot.
The 29-34 Padres are playing better than many people thought they would, and this isn’t a situation where the Braves can stroll in and walk over them. With that said, Atlanta is the better team in this series, and in general, the pitching match-ups favor the Braves while, at the same time, it is undeniable that Atlanta has the better line-up on most days. Anything less than a series victory would be a disappointment (even on the road), and it’ll be interesting to see how the offense (especially) performs in a cavernous ballpark. Stay tuned.