Series Preview - Braves @ Dodgers (August 6th-9th)
August 6th - Derek Lowe (11-7, 4.21) vs Randy Wolf (5-6, 3.47)
Hey, its a rematch of the game from last Saturday. Both of these guys put up nearly identical lines, allowing 3 earned runs in 6 innings. The big difference however, was the fourth unearned run allowed by Wolf on a 6th inning error by the struggling Russell Martin. Oh well, I'll take a win however we can get it.
August 7th - Jair Jurrjens (9-8, 2.85) vs Chad Billingsley (11-6, 3.82)
Rematch number two, this time from Sunday. Jurrjens just didn't have it, allowing 4 runs and 10 hits in only 5 innings, en route to a blowout Braves loss. Billingsley was also pulled after 5, but for the opposite reason: he only allowed 2 hits and struck out 9. Yeah, that'll work.
August 8th - Kenshin Kawakami (5-9, 4.38) vs Clayton Kershaw (8-6, 2.89)
Kawakami busted out another quality start on Monday, actually making it through the 6th inning while allowing 3 runs and not walking a soul. Unfortunately, the Braves offense decided it would be a good idea to make Mat Latos really good for San Diego, and the Braves were handed a tough luck loss. Gee, that sounds familiar.
Clayton Kershaw has really come into his own this year, with an ERA under 3, a FIP under 3.50, a K rate of nearly a batter an inning, and a miniscule homer rate...whats the deal then? He's only got one thing left to fix before he truly becomes a completely elite pitcher: his walks. Kershaw's walk rate is astromical, currently sitting at 5.13 per 9, which is a jump of nearly a batter from last year. Aside from the walks though, everything is gravy for him. If he can get those down to a manageable level (say 3 per 9 or so), look out...because this dude could turn Mannywood into uh...Claytonwood? Doesn't have the same ring.
August 9th - Javier Vazquez (9-7, 2.99) vs Hiroki Kuroda (4-5, 4.44)
Vazquez was his usual stellar sefl against the Padres on Wednesday, only allowing a pair of runs in 7 strong innings, striking out 6. The start pushed his ERA under 3 for the year, and he's been hovering somewhere in the neighborhood of the 3.00 range for the past month. Even though Tyler Flowers is absolutely raking for the Birmingham Barons...yeah, I'll take it.
Hiroki Kuroda is having some crappy luck this year. His peripherals are all better than last year, with everything except HR rate improving. His BAA is also exactly the same. So what gives? His strand rate his 6% lower than it was last year, which ends up giving him an ERA a full run higher than his FIP. Kuroda has really helped his team over his last 5 starts, as the Dodgers have won them all. However, Kuroda only has one win to his record over that stretch...and that win came in the 17-4 blowout on Wednesday. Also worth noting is that Kuroda's last 3 starts have been of the quality variety.
The Braves offense was all over the place in the Padres series, scoring 2, 9, and 6 runs over the series. Since his acquisiton, Adam LaRoche is actually 9 for 18 as a Brave (this time), bolstered by a 4 hit game on Wednesday. His OPS is now a hit away from .800. If the Braves can get some bangin offense out of him hitting near the back end of the lineup...look out world, things could get out of control. Also worth noting is Martin Prado getting his groove back, going 9 for 21 since LaRoche was brought in. RAWR TEAM CHEMISTRY!
I'm having issues getting on top of things, its been a chaotic week. I'm gonna try to get the last 2 recaps up, but I can't really promise anything. I'll definitely get some stuff up over the weekend. And now...something nearly identical to what I wrote last week!