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Braves Series Preview

Since we had already exchanged questions with Talking Chop, I went back to them and asked them to update us one what the season has looked like for the Braves since we last saw them. Here's what they had to say:

Since the Braves and Brewers last met, the Braves have been the best team in all of baseball. Atlanta came into the series with a record of 13-18, and they're now 52-36 and have the best record in the NL.

Why have they been so good? I know it's cliched, but it's truly a 25-man effort every night. They have no superstars like Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder. No-name players like Kris Medlen and Jonny Venters are having incredible seasons. They've platooned guys like Eric Hinske, Matt Diaz, Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco in the outfield for a majority of the season. And Billy Wagner has been the best closer in the NL in his final season, despite being constantly over-looked by the national media.

All-Star Tim Hudson has been a steady ace for the Braves all season long and despite being called "lucky" by many of the stat-heads out there, he hasn't missed a beat all season. He's gone 6 innings in almost all of his starts and continues to get hitters to roll over his sinking fastball. Tommy Hanson has been up-and-down in his sophomore year, but he's pitched pretty well. Jair Jurrjens severely injured his hamstring in Milwaukee after jogging on a sore hammy, and has just recently returned. He's been great in his two starts though, and has brought the Braves a big boost to their rotation.

Derek Lowe has been his average self since the Braves/Brewers series despite being paid like an ace. Kenshin Kawakami was moved to the bullpen since the previous series, but was a victim of no run-support nor solid defense behind him. And as mentioned above, Kris Medlen quietly having one of the best seasons for any young starting pitcher in the league.

The bullpen was shaky coming into the Brewers series, but it's been great ever since. Billy Wagner has been basically un-hittable this season despite coming off of Tommy John Surgery. Takashi Saito has been a solid 8th inning man, but has struggled a bit with base-runners since coming off the disabled list. The Australian side-arm pitcher Peter Moylan continues to be one of the best ROOGYs in the game and has a devastating sinker. Lefties Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters have been great this season for Atlanta, and have given both right and left-handed hitters nightmares all season long. Jesse Chavez is pretty bad, but he rarely pitches. Kenshin Kawakami is now in the bullpen with the return of Jurrjens, but he's yet to pitch.

When the Braves came into Milwaukee in the 2nd week of May, only Martin Prado and Jason Heyward were the ones hitting in our lineup. Coming into the first game of the four game series, Bobby Cox made arguably the managerial decision of the season: Move Martin Prado and Jason Heyward to the top of the order, and insert Eric Hinske into the lineup against all right-handed pitchers. The offense has been on fire since then.

Troy Glaus was MLB's MVP for the month of May and carried the team throughout the month. All-Star Game MVP Brian McCann was scuffling for quite a bit of the year, but he's picked it up in the last month and is back to his normal self. Chipper Jones, who also might retire with Wagner and Cox at the end of the season, really struggled in April and May, but has been great since mid-June. Grandpa (as Braves fans like to call him) can still control the strike zone with the best of them and has had a knack for coming up with big hits when we really need them.

Nate McLouth collided with Jason Heyward in Arizona and is still out with a concussion (McLouth gave up about 8 inches and 60lbs to Heyward, so you can imagine how that went.) Speaking of Heyward, he's been on the disabled list the past few weeks, but he's scheduled to play on Thursday. The aforementioned Matt Diaz missed a majority of the season with a nasty thumb infection, but has returned to do what he does best: destroy left-handed pitching.

So that's pretty much our team. Like I said, there's no true superstars and they don't have many players who will "wow" you, but everyone contributes. I personally love the slogan "New Night, New Hero" and it's been a perfect representation of the 2010 Atlanta Braves.



*** The Braves traded Yunel Escober, Jo-Jo Reyes and minor leaguers Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins to Toronto for Alex Gonzalez on Wednesday.

Braves Probable Starters (in order):

  • Jair Jurrjens (1-3, 5.40 ERA in 2010; 2009 vs. MIL: 1 GS, 0-1, 5.14 ERA, 8 SO, 3 BB, 0 HR allowed)
  • Tommy Hanson (8-5, 4.13 ERA in 2010; 2009 vs. MIL: 2 GS, 0-1, 5.54 ERA, 6 SO, 3 BB, 3 HR allowed)
  • TBA
  • TBA

Brewers Probable Starters (in order):

  • Dave Bush (2008 vs. ATL: 2 GS, 1-0, 1.93 ERA, 8 SO, 2 BB, 2 HR allowed)
  • Randy Wolf (2009 vs. ATL: 2 GS, 0-1, 4.85 ERA, 11 SO, 5 BB, 1 HR allowed)
  • Chris Narveson (has not faced ATL)
  • Manny Parra (2010 vs. ATL: 2 GS, 0-0, 7.59 ERA, 7 SO, 5 BB, 3 HR allowed)



Batting average Omar Infante, .332

Batting average Ryan Braun, .292
On-base percentage Brian McCann, .380

On-base percentage Prince Fielder, .401
Slugging Martin Prado .484

Slugging Corey Hart, .569
OPS Prado, .851
OPS Hart, .918
Home runs Troy Glaus, 14

Home runs Hart, 21
Runs batted in Glaus, 58

Runs batted in Hart, 65
Runs scored Prado, 61

Runs scored Rickie Weeks, 56
Stolen bases 3 players with 5

Stolen bases Braun, 12