Braves Week Ahead: Two Best in NL Square Off


After a festive beginning to their homestand following the All-Star break, the Braves wind it up with three tough games against the Padres before traveling to Miami to face the Marlins. Before they look ahead to their NL East rival, they must square off with the best team in the National League.

The Padres boast the 14th best offense in the National League and the best pitching staff in all of baseball. It’s not difficult to see where their wins come from. The opener is Wade LeBlanc vs. Jair Jurrjens. LeBlanc is a young lefty who benefits from Petco Park. He gave up four runs in 5.2 innings against the Rockies in his last start, and missed the Braves in April. Jurrjens has been solid in three starts since returning but had one of his worst career outings against the Padres in April, allowing eight runs in 3.1 innings.  

With Mat Latos on the DL for sneezing, the Padres bumped LeBlanc and Wednesday’s matchup will feature Jon Garland vs. Tommy Hanson in what could be the best matchup of the week. Garland was signed to be the ace of the staff and has pitched like it for the most part. He has struggled some since early June and has seen his ERA rise to 3.45. He missed the Braves in April. Hanson struggled with another tough-luck outing against the Brewers last time out. He dominated the Padres back in April. 

 The third matchup scheduled for Thursday – Clayton Richard vs. Tim Hudson – could be a series deciding game due to the talent level of the two teams. Richard looked good in a start against the Braves back in April but has fallen on hard times lately, allowing at least five runs in each of his last three starts. Hudson had one of his worst lines of the season against the Brewers last time out despite giving up just one run through six innings. He allowed two runs and earned a win against the Padres in April. 

After the Thursday afternoon game, the Braves leave town and embark on a road trip that begins in Florida against the Marlins. The Braves have taken two of three from the Marlins in both series this season. The Marlins are a middle of the road team on both offense and pitching, and in a tough division that has fourth place written all over it.

Friday’s matchup is Derek Lowe vs. Alex Sanabia. Sanabia is a 21-year-old recently promoted from AA and is now filling the vacant spot left by Chris Volstad, who was demoted. Sanabia earned his first win with five-plus shutout innings against the Nationals in his last start and has been very impressive thus far, leaving the Braves with their hands full. Lowe put together his usual outing last time out, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings against the Brewers. He is finally seeing the Marlins after missing them the past two series. 

Saturday’s matchup – Kris Medlen vs. Anibal Sanchez – could be the best of the series. Medlen is making his return to the rotation after being skipped at the break to limit his innings. He has rolled through the opposition and hopes to do the same against the Marlins even though they have now seen him once. He allowed one run in six-plus innings against them in their last series. Sanchez has been a thorn in the Braves’ side but they have been able to split the two games they have faced off this year. He has struggled in his last two starts, giving up a total of ten runs in ten innings, including four against the Braves. 

Sunday’s matchup – Jair Jurrjens vs. Nate Robertson – could be in the Braves’ favor if they need a rubber game win. It will be Jurrjens’ second start in the week after facing LeBlanc on Tuesday. The Marlins have yet to see him this season. Robertson continues to struggle along and has seen his ERA rise above five. His last start against the Braves was by far his best this season, allowing one unearned run on two hits in six innings. But I have faith the Braves won’t be repeating that, especially considering they’re seeing lefties better right now. 

Two Start Starter: Jair Jurrjens (vs. LeBlanc is key matchup)

Marquee Matchup: Jon Garland vs. Tommy Hanson (Wed, 7/21)

Pick to Click Offensively: Brian McCann (Not a bold move, but he is looking much better and has hit Richard & Sanchez)

The Opposition: Mets @ D-Backs & Dodgers…Phillies @ Cardinals & vs. Rockies