Series Preview - Nationals @ Braves (August 11-12)
August 11th - John Lannan (8-8, 3.39) vs Tommy Hanson (6-2, 3.22)
Doesn't John Lannan have a fantastic ERA? A little mind boggling to think about considering how many batters he strikes out. Every time I look at Lannan's peripherals, I die a little more inside. He literally strikes no one out. His homer rate is around average. His walk rate is bad considering his K rate. His strand rate is average. His BABIP...maybe a little below average, but nothing horrible. WHAT. THE. HELL. In his last start against the Braves back on hte 4th of July, he picked up a win, limiting the team to 3 runs over 8 strong innings. Depressing to think about. Fun fact of the day: Lannan has struck out more than 4 batters in a game once in June, July & August. Unbelievable.
Young Thomas Hanson is coming off a solid outing in San Diego, allowing a pair of runs in 6 solid innings. DAMN YOU WILL VENABLE. Anyway. Hanson pretty much had everything going pretty well against the Padres, getting the ball on the ground and getting a few strikeouts. The walks were high, and he did allow a homer, but meh, these things happen. I expect a start just as good against the hapless Nats offense. Please god, please.
August 12th - Craig Stammen (3-6, 5.40) vs Derek Lowe (11-7, 4.15)
Nats rookie Craig Stammen has had a rough go of it this year. Dude is like a younger John Lannan which is not a good thing...he's striking out a whopping 4 batters per 9, but has his walks under control, with only 1.93 per 9. The homer rate is around average (0.97), but the Nats bullpen is absolutely screwing him with a strand rate under 60%. Yikes. His BABIP is fine, so the defense behind him appears to be decent enough. Stammen doesn't have a 90 mph fastball, so he's a guy that if his command isn't working...its going to be a very rough night for him. Hopefully, he's not getting those calls on the corners on Wednesday.
Derek Lowe turned in his second straight quality start against his former team, allowing 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings on Thursday in LA. He had the sinker working, with a 2:1 GB:FB ratio. Unfortunately, the game was blown for him when Rafael Soriano absolutely imploded and had his bar none worst game of the year. After an absolutely horrendous June, Lowe has gotten back on form thusfar in July and August, as he has 6 straight quality starts, and 7 of 8 overall. This is what the team is paying $15 million for. And lord knows we need it.
Part of me hopes Larry Jones doesn't come back until after this series is over, because Kelly Johnson and Martin Prado are both owning the Nats' souls this season, with 4 digit OPSes. Matt Diaz is also taking souls against them with a 4 digit number, while his platoon buddy Garret Anderson is struggling horribly (.400 OPS). Diaz will likely start on Tuesday against the left-handed Lannan. Anderson is the only Brave actually struggling against the Washington pitching, as the next lowest OPS by a regular is Brian McCann at .751.
The bane of the Braves existance, the Washington Nationals. The Nats are actually on fire right now, winning 8 straight, but 6 of those were in the friendly confines of Nationals Park...now they have to trek down to the lovely haven down south that is Turner Field. They've only come down to Atlanta once, and it was the first home series of the year for the Braves...it was a sweep for the good guys. Lets hope in this abbreviated series, the same thing can happen. It really needs to with the Phillies struggling as bad as they are right now...ground needs to be made up.