After taking up residence in Orlando, Queens, and Houston for nearly the last two months, the Atlanta Braves have come home. They will enter the house that Teddy-T built riding a two-game win-streak, 2-4 overall, yet with many pundits and critics alike not giving the Mets and Astros the slightest hope of taking one step out their cellar doors, it feels more like those numbers should be inversed.
The quality of opponent will ramp up though as the Braves will play host to the defending NL Central Champion Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew are coming off of a shellacking via the right arm of Cubs ace Matt Garza, a slight positive for the Cubbies as Milwaukee took three out of four against them; making them 4-3 on the season. The Bravos pitchers will have to be sharp as the Brewers are second in the National League in HR’s (10), RBI’s (30), yet luckily for Atlanta Milwaukee’s hitters also have the highest strikeout rate at 24.1%. Even luckier for the Braves is that get to miss “Double G,” Gallardo and Greinke. With pitching in mind, let us take at look at the series matchups:
Friday: LHP Randy Wolf (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs RHP Jair Jurrjens (0-1, 6.23 ERA)
Randy Wolf played the role of a typical veteran in his first outing of the season, with a five and dive performance that saw him scatter nine hits and one walk to the tune of three runs while successfully netting nine strikeouts. Despite that solid performance, the Braves will be chomping-at-the-bit to tee-off on the familiar lefty. Wolf is 5-12 with a 5.28 ERA in 28 career games (26 starts) against Atlanta. After getting a flair-single in his last ever at-bat at Minute Maid Park, Chipper Jones will look to continue his hot hitting ways against Wolf with whom he is hitting a sexy .377 (20-for-53) with four HR’s and seven doubles.
Atlanta sends Jair Jurrjens to the mound. JJ struggled mightily in his first performance of the season, needing 102 to complete 4.1 innings which allotted three runs on seven hits; this off of the heels of his last two outings of Spring Training in which Jair only gave up two runs in 13 innings. JJ was solid against the Brewers last year in his lone performance, going 7.2 innings and surrendering two runs on seven hits and zero walks, which was at The Ted.
Saturday: RHP Shawn Marcum (1-0, 4.50 ERA) vs RHP Mike Minor (0-1, 10.80 ERA)
If the Braves can remain patient at the plate, Marcum will reward them. The former Missouri State pitcher has gifted teams a homer in his last eight outings, including two solo shots against the Cubs, dating back to last year's playoffs.
Mike Minor looked good in his first start of the season, before he got into trouble in the sixth inning at New York. Minor gave up a walk to Jason Bay and a single to Lucas Duda before exiting the game, which left him with a line of six earned-runs on six hits.
Sunday: LHP Chris Narveson (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs RHP Brandon Beachy (0-1, 1.80 ERA)
Chris Narveson marks the sixty left-handed pitcher the Braves will face in nine games so far this season. Unlike his teammate Randy Wolf, Narveson has had good success, albeit limited, against the Bravos; two runs in twelve innings. Narveson was solid in his first start of the season, only struggling in the third inning, which netted him two earned runs on six hits in five innings.
The Braves will send arguably their best pitcher, dating back to last season, for the last game of the series. Brandon Beachy retired eight of the first nine batters he faced in Houston, before he made a crucial mistake; allowing Astros hitters to hit the ball near newly acquired third baseman Juan Francisco. Francisco committed three errors on Monday night that shafted a potentially strong outing for Beachy. Luckily for Beachy, his teammates and Braves fans everywhere, Chipper will likely command the throne at third.