Series Preview - Padres @ Braves (August 25-27)
August 25th - Mat Latos (4-3, 4.82) vs Jair Jurrjens (10-8, 2.99)
Wow, what happened to Mat Latos since the Braves saw him last? Well...he turned in a great start against the Mets (1 ER & 7K in a 6 inning victory), and then got shelled by the Cubs & Cardinals (combined: 12 runs in 7 2/3 with more walks than strikeouts. Yeesh). The homers continue to be a problem for Latos, as he's allowed a whopping 7 in 37 1/3 innings this season in the bigs. His walk totals have been up the last 3 starts, walking 10 in 13 2/3 innings compared to 6 in 23 2/3 innings in his first 4 starts. The strikeouts have gone up, which is a crucial step in the learning process. Latos is still very young and learning, so Padres fans shouldn't be hurling themselves off the Western Supply Steel building quite yet (please correct me if I botched the name of that, I've never been to Petco).
Jair Jurrjens on the other hand, just keeps rolling right along. He turned in another ho hum start on Wednesday, allowing a pair of runs in 6 innings against the Mets, in a game where the Braves didn't need him to be dominant due to the offense exploding like a stripper out of a cake at a bachelor party. JJ just keeps rolling right along. What I'm most impressed with is that in 6 of his past 7 starts, he's walked 2 or less batters. I'm not impressed by the 3 homers in 4 starts though. Baby steps Jair...baby steps.
August 26th - Tim Stauffer (1-6, 3.95) vs Kenshin Kawakami (6-9, 3.97)
Stauffer has had some crappy luck, with an ERA under 4 and a W/L record under .500. But hey, most of his peripherals are backing him on this one...6 homers in 41 innings is pretty bad, but a walk rate around 3 and a K rate a little above 8 are real good starts. Stauffer really isn't pitching badly...but the Padres offense is just so horrible, that when he does pitch well, he gets no run support to back him. In 6 of his 8 starts, the Padres have scored 1 or 2 runs. Thats just downright pathetic.
Kenshin "Dragon Slayer" Kawakami showed up on Thursday in New York, out dueling Mets ace Johan Santana in his one of his best starts of the year. Kenshin allowed only 1 run in 7 innings of work to the offensively challenged Mets, and escaped New York with his first win since July 8th. 4 straight quality starts for Kawakami, and during that stretch, he's only allowed 2 homers and walked 5 batters. The 14 strikeouts has me banging my head against a wall a little bit, but you can't get everything you want I guess.
August 27th - Clayton Richard (7-3, 4.42) vs Javier Vazquez (10-9, 3.14)
Richard is actually pitching much worse than Tim Stauffer this year, but has a much better record...hey look at that, another reason that you should point and laugh at people who quote win/loss record as a barometer of a pitcher's effectiveness. If Richard's command is shot, which its been for most of the season, he's screwed since he's never struck out a whole lot of batters. When you combine the obscene walk totals (4.27 per 9) with a homer rate of 1.01 per 9, you're gonna get yourself into some trouble. And imagine that, Richard has. He's actually 3-0 as a Padre, despite turning in only 1 quality start in 5 tries, and walking 18 in 27 innings (with only 20 strikeouts too! ABORT, ABORT!). He hasn't allowed a homer in his last 2 starts though...he'll eventually get his walk situation under control and become a solid 3/4 starter, but I don't really expect much more out of him. If the command goes downhill, Richard is screwed. Plain and simple.
BIG. INNING. JAVY. I will never get tired of that name, and that ugly character reared his ugly head against the Marlins on Friday when Javy allowed 4 of his 5 runs in one inning in a critical game against divisional foe Florida. Positive about Javy: he's still got an awesome K:BB ratio, only walking 3 batters in a game once since the beginning of July. Negative about Javy: he's allowed 7 homers in his last 6 starts. Javy's got some extreme flyball tendencies going lately, and I'm not too happy about it. He needs to get this garbage under control, because the Braves really need the dominant Vazquez from the first half of the year to solidify this rotation for the end of the year.
Garret Anderson should be back in the lineup for the Braves, which is always a good thing. Ryan Church should also be back in the lineup, which is a REALLY good thing. Having the 2 outfielders back would put Reid Gorecki on the bench, and likely shift Omar Infante to second and Kelly Johnson to the bench. I'm assuming Martin Prado is still out with his chronic headaches of doom, because I haven't heard a word about them getting better. Also worth noting is that Adam LaRoche and Matt Diaz are still taking souls in the heart of the order and will keep playing. I can only imagine that Church will be leading off, with Infante second and Chipper obviously third. McCann will clean up, and LaRoche will protect him. Then I assume it would go Escobar-Anderson-Diaz, and when you have your hottest hitter in the 8 hole, you know you're rolling.
Ah yes, the Padres...who the Braves last faced a whopping 3 weeks ago. The team has gone 13-6 including that series since then, which is always an awesome sight to behold. The Padres are still really bad. This series easily looks like it can be the team's 6th series victory in the last 7...but youneverknow!