Series Preview - Red Sox @ Braves (June 26-28)
June 26th - Josh Beckett (8-3, 3.74) vs Jair Jurrjens (5-5, 2.89)
Beckett absolutely dominated the Braves last Saturday, to the tune of a complete game, 5 hit shutout. That game was Beckett at his peak..7 strikeouts, no walks, only 94 pitches. To be successful the second time around, the Braves (as I normally say) need to be a little more patient and not try to jump all over Beckett right away. I mean, he threw slightly over 3 pitches per batter last time...that has to change.
Jair Jurrjens had a weird outing last time around. He got a quality start despite allowing 5 runs (only 2 were earned), and somehow only got 4 ground balls all game. Really? The Braves put a good amount of runs on the board (5, which for this team is a lot), only to be undone in a winnable game by some shoddy defense, terrible umpiring, and Nick Effing Green. Sigh.
June 27th - Tim Wakefield (9-3, 4.47) vs Javier Vazquez (5-6, 3.18)
Alright, now HERE is a lopsided pitching matchup. We did pretty well for ourselves on Sunday against Wakefield, but what was the issue? You guessed it, PATIENCE. Barely about 3 pitches per batter for Wake, which is just stupid for a knuckleballer...why are you jumping on something like that? Every pitch is going to look fat, you have to look for one that not only is fat, but is also easy and drunk too, something you could just absolutely smash. Its all about the patience.
Javier Vazquez is the man...what else can I say? On Monday in the makeup game vs the Cubs, JV went all BOOM BOOM POW, despite allowing 11 baserunners, none of them crossed the plate in his 6 2/3 innings. He only struck out 5 too, which is tied for his season low. Javy kept the ball on the ground pretty well, and needs to do the same versus the Red Sox with the power potential they have with Youkilis, Bay, Drew and the rest of the crew
June 28th - Brad Penny (6-2, 4.93) vs Tommy Hanson (3-0, 3.13)
Hey, someone I get to preview! Brad Penny is still recovering from shoulder surgery this offseason, and it shows in his stamina, as he's pitched past the 6th inning only twice this season. Against most teams, that would be beneficial to the Braves, but not so much against Boston, with their strong bullpen. Penny's K and walk rates are slightly below his career norms, but nothing to be horribly concerned about. The thing to worry about with Penny is that his BAA is 33 points higher than his already high career average. Also, he's getting the ball in the air a lot more often than he usually does, but they're not going out of the park more often. The result is more gappers and extra base hits which eventually result in runs scored.
Tommy Hanson...man, I'm still nervous about him. He shut out the Yankees through 5 1/3 on Tuesday, but was ridiculously lucky, since he walked 5 and none of them scored. He's proven very adept at working his way out of jams, but I don't like the fact that he's getting into jams in the first place. His strikeout rate is too low, and his walk rate is too high. Those are the two most important stats with Hanson, more so than most other pitchers. If he can raise his strikeouts by 2 per inning and lower his walks by 2 per inning, he'd have a ratio of a little over 2, which is something you can work with as opposed to his current level of near even. I do not like to see a K:BB that starts with a 0 or a 1...just really makes me feel skittish.
I'm not going to talk about Boston's offense because nothing has really changed...how about the Braves offense? Well, the Yankees series was a mixed bag (and I'll have more about that in my preview tomorrow). The Braves didn't need runs on Monday or Tuesday, as the pitching threw up 18 innings of zeroes. After 5 perfect innings Wednesday, the wheels fell off and the Braves couldn't get a whole lot going...the collapse by the bullpen after Kawakami's injury didn't really help either. Tonight, the Braves threw up a 7 spot, which is real good, but the Yankees teed off on Derek Lowe, so it was all for naught. Garret Anderson has been red hot over the last week (despite not racking up the XBH), so he'll be a key. How about the all important BACK END of the lineup? Well, the Braves implemented a lineup change tonight, starting Martin Prado in the 2 hole, and shifting Yunel Escobar to 5, bumping Anderson to 6, and inexplicably hitting Francoeur 7th over Kotchman. The new lineup seemed to work well, as every starter had a hit. We'll see what Bobby Cox does with the lineup tomorrow, if he keeps things the way they were tonight, or if he goes back to normal with Escobar in the 2 hole.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Yankees series recap will be up tomorrow evening, as will a new HOT OR NOT. Fun times!
This team looks awfully familiar, doesn't it? This one is going to be kind of brief, since not a whole lot has changed since last weekend...well, only one Braves pitcher going this series went against Boston last weekend, and 2 Red Sox pitchers went against the Braves...so thats a couple of things I guess I have to do. Anyways. ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!