Nationals Baseball: Braves Series Preview

Friday, April 12, 2013

Braves Series Preview

The Nats swept the White Sox. This is good, not only for the obvious "more wins > fewer wins", but because it kept them a single game behind the Braves. The Braves have had an easier schedule than the Nats but 8-1 is still impressive.  If you twisted my arm I probably would have said Atlanta should be at 7-2 as well, but going series by series 8-1 also makes sense.  Are the Marlins not an automatic sweep anywhere for any good team right now?  Short of it is - both teams are good and playing like they should going into this series.

This isn't a make or break series.  I've seen plenty of early season "disasters" turn into non-issues by the end of the year. The Braves and Nats play each other nearly 20 times so there is plenty of time to make up ground lost, either in other head to head games or just in general.  That being said, neither team wants to be swept. You want to feel like you are competitive with your rival and a sweep that isn't full of one-run nail-biters can raise some doubts, be they legitimate or not. The Braves don't want to come in here 1 game up and leave 2 back and have the world saying what some Nats fans are right now - that their fast start was just a scheduling mirage. The Nats don't want to lose 3 on their home turf and find themselves 4 back already. They are better than the Braves, probably even 4 games better, but then they'd only have 150 games to show it, not 162.  No one wants that Wild Card. Let's see how the match-ups break down.

Teheran v Detwiler
Hudson v Strasburg
Mahom v Gio

Detwiler is Detwiler. You guys like him more than I do. If he just gives up ground ball after ground ball its only a matter of time before 3-4 go through in the same inning, great D or not. Add in one big hit and there's your 4.00 ERA.  Sure he gets the double plays but the DPs timings are a product of luck as much as skill "GB single, DP, GB single, GB single, out" is a scoreless inning. "GB single, GB single, GB single, DP, out" is a 2-run one. No difference in what happened, just the order. Detwiler will give up a run or two or three. Really this is about Teheran. He has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher but hasn't shown it yet. Why expect him to do it against the Nats lineup in DC? This one favors the Nats.

Hudson is a very good pitcher but last year he always seemed to have that one inning versus the Nats where it would fall apart. He could eventually contain it and go a few more but they always broke through? Bad luck? Maybe. Even if Hudson and Fredi can manage to keep the game close this comes down to Strasburg and Davey. Will Strasburg dominate? Will Davey let him go deep if he is? There's these unknowns on the Nats side that I don't like but I'll give them the edge until Hudson shows he can face the good Nats and not put up a middling performance.

The Braves in the past caused Gio fits. They are a patient team and Gio can get a bit wild. It's a different team now, but you'd have to think they haven't forgotten what works.  Gio can still dominate them if he has his A stuff but I'm not feeling that. The White Sox always felt on the verge of getting to Gio and they are neither as patient or as good hitting as the Braves. Maholm on the other hand is nothing special BUT he does limit the long ball and dammit if that isn't where the Nats are getting their runs. I give the edge here to the Braves, April Gio and all.

HOT : Upton the Younger is hitting .381 with 3 homers and 3 doubles in the past week. Evan Gattis, Juan Francisco, Andrelton Simmons, & Chris Johnson are also hitting over .300, with varying degrees of power.  The ATL bench players, Laird, Schafer, Pena, are 9/18. The Nats catcher tandem is hot 7-21 with 3 homers in the past 7 days. LaRoche seems to be back on track with four hits in the last 3 days. Desmond, Werth, and Bryce are all hitting over .350 in the past week.  Span is getting on base at a .450+ clip.

NOT : Upton the Elder has little more than that big HR recently.  Heyward only has gotten a hit in the 2nd game of the year. Zimmerman had that big double last night but that's about it The Nats bench has 1 hit in limited at bats.


Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

My calm rational self says NATS will not get swept and going 1-2 agianst the braves will not cause me nor should it cause others to start caterwauling. This team is objectively good enough to win the "extra one" and go 2-1. The unruly raging fan in me wants the NATS to sweep them and show the Braves who's their Daddy!!

notBobby said...

I am thinking 2-1 this series. I don't think the Nats will get swept at home. I probably would have said 1-2 except for Atlanta's injuries. Not having Freeman will be a problem for Atlanta and not having Venters is a Godsend. But Gattis is probably an upgrade over McCann, amazingly. I think this will hinge on how well Stras keeps the ball in the yard bc I also see Det winning the first game and Gio losing the third.

blovy8 said...

Where are these Nats fans saying the Braves start is a fluke? I've not run into any. They're too busy saying Haren sucks. Then I made the mistake of listening to FP and Carpenter say how well Mattheus pitched last night giving up a run in 2 innings. Well, that's how the bullpen goes...

Actually, the White Sox are not a bad club, they just get stuck a bit having Dunn in left. The Nats were lucky enough to miss Sale.
The luck in these matchups holds since there's no sign of Medlen. I'm hoping Maholm's luck on balls in play is about to regress.

Harper said...

Sec 204 - I think that's perfectly in line with fans. You know 1win isn't terrible but losing ground at home?!?! and that 2 wins is the expectation but SWEEP!!!! Something along those line.

nB - It'll be interesting how the first two games split because there's a pitcher in each (Teheran and Stras) that could be shut down awesome or just not have it (though the odds aren't the same for each). If things split that third game is a nice rubber match but I think less interesting than if the first two go all one way or another.

b8 - Just in my last comment section! Not that the Braves are bad but that they are only leading the East because Reds > Cubs.

No Medlen is nice but I'd watch out for Teheran. Eventually he's going to put it together in the majors. I even think this year. Let's just hope it doesn't start tonight.

Donald said...

I hope Detwiler pleasantly surprises you this year. He's got a lot of talent-- he was a first round draft pick after all. And after last year's playoff game and the world baseball classic, he's pitching with more confidence. What worries me is that he doesn't ever seem to go very deep into the game. My prediction for tonight is that he goes 6 innings and gives up 2-3 runs. Our bullpen gives up another 1-2. I don't know if that's enough for them to win. If Teheran is shaky, we could score a bunch and win it going away. If he's strong, we might well lose. Fingers crossed.

Froggy said...

To second blovy8, I don't hear anyone saying the Braves start is a fluke. If anything, this is what I would expect for the whole season. Also, I think the only weakness is Haren, who is barely good for one trip through the order then it is like batting practice. Detwiler on the other hand, could be the most underrated starting pitcher in baseball.

Sooo glad Dunn didn't make me eat my ex-girlfriend is fat remarks. Whew!

Froggy said...

Detwiler pitched a 7 inning gem only to have Clip and Stor serve it up. I haven't seen a good outing from Storen yet, even in ST.

I guess we now must win the next two to draw even? At least I'm getting my Bobblehead tomorrow!

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Kenny B. said...

At what point do we start freaking out about the errors and the bullpen?

Nattydread said...

Looks like, in hindsight, the Nats will only get a win out of Gio (assuming they win today?).

As Kenny B says, errors and the bullpen are the ball and chain of early season problems. Small sample size or developing cancers?

Anonymous said...

The Nats are not 4 games better than the Braves. As a Braves fan who attended Friday's game, it pleased me greatly to listen to the chop reverberate throughout the stadium as I walked back to my car. Nats stadium = Turner Field North.

Kenny B. said...

Okay, commencing full-scale freakout. Bring me down Harper.

Froggy said...

Maybe the league hasn't figured us out, but the Braves sure have. Mahom is just sick. In spite of a couple of horrible calls by by Bill Welke at first base and Brian O'Nora that might have made difference yesterday, the issues are our own errors and our bullpen is not showing up.

Is it my imagination or does Strasburg just not pitch well at home day games?