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series-preview-braves-brewers | May | 2010 Articles

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Series Preview - Braves @ Brewers

Written by Joe Lucia on .

The MASH unit that is the Atlanta Braves cruises into Milwaukee for a midweek series... Yunel Escobar? Out until Saturday. Jair Jurrjens? Gone at least another week. Jason Heyward? Could be in the lineup Tuesday. Chipper Jones? Playing tonight! One out of 4 ain't too bad. Regardless, its looking like a rough series for the Braves to kick off the week and finish up this 9 game roadtrip. Escobar out means that Omar Infante will continue to start at shortstop, and Heyward's injury forced Melky Cabrera and Matt Diaz into starting roles on a daily basis. Out of those 3, Infante is the only one hitting anything worth a damn, and even so, his OPS is only .708. Yeah...thats really not a good hunk of the order, considering that Nate McLouth is still an everyday player and is struggling terribly. Heyward is far and away the team's best hitter. No one on the roster aside from him as an OPS above .800, let alone near Heyward's mark of 1.026. Offense wasn't supposed to be the issue for the team this year, but here we are on May 10th, and it IS the big issue. Pretty depressing stuff. On a related depressing note, the team OPS right now is .666. Eerie. The starting pitching is what will win probably 2 games for the Braves this series, as the opening 2 games of this set are started by Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson, who have been the two best pitchers on the staff all season now. The third game will be started by Derek Lowe, who I really don't want to talk about aside from saying "at least there's only 2 full years left on the deal". That signing looks just a tad bit misguided at this point. Back to Hanson and Hudson. Neither man is walking too many hitters. In fact, they've each only allowed 12 free passes on the season. What sets Hanson apart is his 38 strikeouts in 35 innings compared to Hudson's measly total of 16. Hudson has also allowed 1 more homer than Hanson. Its 2010, and Hanson is already the staff ace. Hudson has a low ERA, but he's really not pitching like it with that low strikeout rate. He's gotten lucky as hell with the hits. Lets talk a little bit about the opponent this week, the Milwaukee Brewers. The Braves catch a break, as they catch the terrible Doug Davis, the not so good Dave Bush, and the...well, really awesome Yovani Gallardo. I can live with 2 out of 3, but that Wednesday matchup is looking really lopsided. Davis, tonight's starter, isn't necessarily "bad" as much as he is "really unlucky". He's striking out a batter an inning, and his walk rate isn't obscenely bad. What's killing Davis is the 45 hits in only 27 2/3 innings: a BAA that high is something that shouldn't be sustainable. The Braves offense is struggling, but hopefully they can string together some hits against Davis and get some runs on the board. Dave Bush is a lot like Milwaukee's version of Tim Hudson: minimal walks and minimal strikeouts, but unlike Hudson, he's allowing a ton of homers...7 on the season to be exact, which translates to nearly 2 per 9 innings. The Braves can't hit homers. Something has gotta give here...as for Gallardo? He's really good, and will carve the Braves up like a beautifully crusted turkey. He's striking out nearly 11 batters per 9, and while walking  almost 5 per 9, he doesn't allow a lot of hits. Yeah, no way the Braves are going to touch him. And now, the Brewers offense. Its very potent, and led by all-world slugger Ryan Braun, the second leading hitter in the league at .365. Braun is a quintessential...well, 4 tool player. He hits for average, has obscene power, runs very well (8/8 in steals this year), and has a good arm. Defense...yeah, not so much, but when you hit as well as Braun does, it can be overlooked. He is a stud, and the Braves need to keep him under control. Casey McGehee has shockingly been great for Milwaukee in his second year, with as many homers and RBI as Braun. Leadoff hitter du jour Rickie Weeks is healthy and performing to his potential, which is a huge key for the Brewers this year. And then there's huge first baseman Prince Fielder, who has struggled and not shown much of the prodigious power he's been known for in the past. Its a winnable series for the Braves, as the Brewers are a game under .500 and wildly inconsistent with their offense and pitching. But with how bad the Braves offense has been, the series could turn into a rout for Milwaukee.

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