San Diego. It means a whale's...well, you know how it goes. And if you have no idea what I just said, go rent Anchorman. You won't regret it.
Anyways, a trip to San Diego also means the Braves get to face a struggling baseball team, with not too much proven talent on the roster besides an All-Star 1st baseman and solid closer. The Padres come into Monday's game with a record of 2-4 and will be one of the final teams to have their Home Opener. Here's a look at the pitching matchups:
JJ comes into Monday's game after pitching well in his season debut against the Cubs. JJ pitched 5 strong innings, giving up just 3 hits and allowed 2 walks. He was on pace to pitch deeper into the ballgame, but a long 43-pitch 5th inning denied any chance of that. In true Jair Jurrjens fashion, our offense didn't help him out at all, only scoring 1 run for him until a clutch 8th inning HR came from Chipper. Let's all hope for more offense this time around. Jair has made 2 strong starts against the Padres pitching 13.2 innings, going 1-0 with an ERA of 1.32. He received a ND in a 2-1 loss to the Padres last August.
It seems like Kevin Correia has been around forever, but it's only been since 2003 when he broke into the league with the Giants. Correia has a career W-L record of 26-34 with an ERA of 4.38. In his debut against the DBacks last week, Correia pitched 6 innings while taking the loss. He gave up 7 hits, 3 of which where HRs. This was a bit odd, since Correia has a solid 0.8 HR/9 ratio throughout his career. He did strikeout 6 and walk 0, so it sounds like control isn't too much of an issue. The Braves did not face Correia in 2009.
Correia has a decent fastball, which he throws about 55% of the time (*note, pitchFX had Correia throwing a 2-seam fastball 45% of the time against the Rockies in his 2010 debut, but has rarely thrown that pitch in the past.) Along with his fastball, Correia throws a slider with decent movement. Throughout his career, Correia has thrown either a fastball or slider 85% of the time, so adjust accordingly Braves. He will also throw and changeup and curveball on occasion.
Correia is a San Diego native, so he should be extra motivated to be pitching in the Home Opener.
More of the pitching match-ups and hitter reports after the jump.
Wonder Boy Tommy Hanson comes into the game with a record of 0-1 with an ERA of 3.38. Tommy actually pitched pretty well in his debut on Wednesday, but home runs from Colvin and Byrd were the deciding factors in a 2-0 loss to the Cubs. Tommy struck out 7 in his 5.1 innings of work, but struggled with his command at times. A high pitch count bothered Boy Wonder all night, and I think he needs to let hitters put the ball in play a bit more. The strikeouts are sexy, but quick ground outs and fly balls go a long ways in going deep into the ballgame. Hanson has made one start against the Padres in his short career, getting the win while pitching 6 strong innings.
You may not know who Clayton Richard is, but he's a solid young pitcher. A 6'5'', 240lb lefty, Richard came over from Chicago in the Jake Peavy deal last May. Richard is mainly a ground ball pitcher, which means he'll give up quite a few hits. In his 26 starts last season, his H/9 was 8.9, while walking nearly 5 batters per 9 innings. Richard also struggles with his control at times, giving up nearly 5BB/9IP. Like most sinkerballers, Richard does a good job inducing ground balls, thus quite a few GIDPs by the other team. However, as long as the Braves hitters are patient, we should have a good amount of baserunners and scoring opportunities. Richard has started 2 games against the Braves in his career, going 0-1 with a 5.14ERA.
Richard's main pitch, as mentioned above, is his sinker. And to be honest, he lives with it and dies with it. Since Richard is 6'5'', he usually gets good downward movement on his pitches. His sinker can touch 92mph on occasion, but usually sits between 87-90.
Tim Hudson is back, baby. And if it wasn't for a blown save in the 9th inning of Friday's game, Huddy would be 1-0. Huddy pitched a great game in his first start of the season, going 7 innings while only giving up 3 hits. Many questioned Frank Wren when traded away our "ace" from last season, Javy Vazquez, but it looks like Huddy is going to pick up right where he left off. Huddy has faced the Padres 5 times since coming over to Atlanta, and is 1-0 with a 4.38ERA.
Mat Latos is a talented 22-year old right-handed pitcher, who could be the Padres "ace" for the next few seasons. Latos has a large frame, standing at 6'6'' and weighing 225lbs. Similar to all the Padres' pitchers, Latos was a victim of the long ball in his first start, giving up 3 to the Rockies hitters. Latos faced the Braves twice in 2009 and made us look horrible, going 1-0 with only 2 runs allowed in 14 innings.
Latos throws a hard fastball, which usually sits between 93-95mph and has a good tail on the ball. His 2nd best pitch is his big slider, which has quite a bit of movement and depth to it. His third pitch is a decent curveball, but he can struggle with his control at times.
(small) Advantage: Hudson
Storylines of the Series:
1. How will the Braves play against a lesser opponent?
Nothing against the Padres, but they aren't exactly the cream of the crop in the NL. Last year, the Braves were awful against the worst teams in the league. As a matter of fact, it probably cost us a playoff spot. Let's all hope this won't happen again in 2010.
2. How will the Padres play in their opening home series?
It's almost guaranteed to be a sellout tomorrow afternoon in San Diego and the crowd should be rowdy. Will it give their players an extra boost? Or will the Braves rise to the occasion and keep the crowd quiet during the series? It'll be interesting to see.
3. How many HRs will Jason Heyward hit?
I've got 2.
Padres - Chase Headly - 3B: .440AVG 2 2Bs 1RBI 1.001OPS
Adrian Gonzalez - 1B: .333AVG 3 2Bs 2HRs 3RBI 1.137OPS...Yeah, don't let this guy beat you.
Padres - David Eckstein - SS: .100AVG 1 2B 0RBI .250OPS
Kyle Blanks- LF: .158AVG 1 2B 1HR 1RBI .641OPS
Will Venable - RF: .227AVG 1 3B 1HR 5RBI .682OPS
Rain showers passed through the area early Monday morning, but have thankfully cleared out since then. Wednesday's and Thursday's games (remember, we're off Tuesday) should be beautiful, as the forecast calls for sunny skies and highs in the mid-60's.
Braves record: 3-3
Padres record: 2-4