Braves vs. Nationals - Series Preview

Fun fact: This is the 4th time I've covered a Braves/Nationals series for TC this year. Wow.

Okay, so you know the Nationals. Besides a player or two, they haven't changed much at all since we last saw them. Rob Dibble was fired, which was awesome. Nyjer Morgan will fight you, and you don't wanna mess with all 5'8, 150lbs of him. Besides that, not too much sticks out. Here's a look at the offense.

Runs: 595 (12th)
BA: .256 (10th)
OBP: .322 (11th)
SLG: .395 (11th)
HR: 130 (10th)
SB:
103 (3rd)
BB/K: 0.42 (11th)

As you can see, they're still a below average bunch, and they're still without Josh Willingham. Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman still form one of the better 3-4 punches in baseball, but they don't have much help. 2nd baseman Danny Espinosa has been great for them since being called up (1.079OPS), but keep in mind that it's a definitely a small sample size. Ivan Rodriguez does a majority of the catching, but rookie Wilson Ramos, who was acquired for Matt Capps at the trade deadline, has been playing a little more often over the last few weeks. Outfielders Roger Bernadina (.724OPS) and Nyjer Morgan (.634OPS) don't bring much to the lineup besides speed, and Michael Morse is having a solid season in limited playing time. Braves Killer Ian Desmond is also having a pretty good first season in the Major Leagues, but his defense is spotty at best.

More after the jump...

Pitching Probables:

Monday, 7:10 -

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Yuneski Maya 0-1 1 1 0 0 0 0 5.0 5 4 4 1 2 3 7.20 1.40
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Derek Lowe 12-12 30 29 0 0 0 0 169.0 182 85 83 17 58 109 4.42 1.42


Yuneski Maya, as you can see, is a 29-year old right handed starting pitcher who is out of Cuba. He made his Major League debut against the Mets last week, and was hit hard early and often. There's really not much on Maya anywhere. All I know is he had an ERA of 3.38 in 18 innings with the Nats triple-A affilate in Syracuse, and he isn't an overpowering pitcher by any means.

Derek Lowe, after missing a start, returned to Atlanta and looked pretty good against a very weak Pirates lineup. He ended up going 6 innings, and despite allowing 8 hits, Lowe only allowed 1 run. Lowe didn't walk anybody, but again, it was against the Pirates.

Tuesday, 7:10 -

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Livan Hernandez 9-11 31 29 2 1 0 0 186.0 190 82 79 13 59 99 3.82 1.34
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Jair Jurrjens 7-5 19 19 0 0 0 0 111.1 111 59 56 11 41 83 4.53 1.37


This will be the 19th time Livan Hernandez has faced the Braves in 2010, and you know what he's going to do. The veteran, right handed starting pitcher throws a steady diet of junk balls and doesn't really throw harder than 90mph. Livan pitched well in his last start against the Mets and only allowed 2 earned runs in 7 innings, but the Nats didn't score for him and he took the 3-2 loss.

Ugh. I'd settle for some consistency from Jair for once. Jurrjens was rocked in his last start against the Cardinals, even though he was staked to a nice 3-0 lead against Chris Carpenter. As JJ put it in his post-game interview, "I felt like I was throwing BP out there." and it's the truth. He couldn't locate his pitches, and the Cardinals weren't missing. Fortunately for Jurrjens, he faces one of the weaker lineups in the NL and should have a much easier time.

Wednesday, 12:10 - 

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - John Lannan 7-7 22 22 0 0 0 0 124.2 154 73 65 12 44 59 4.69 1.58
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Mike Minor 3-0 6 6 0 0 0 0 32.0 40 21 20 4 8 35 5.63 1.50


John Lannan, a soft-tossing lefty (oh boy.), will be making the start for the Nationals on this Business Man's special in Atlanta. As you can see, Lannan hasn't been very good this season, and he doesn't overpower you either. He did pitch pretty well against the Marlins in his last start and allowed two runs in six innings, but took the 3-1 loss.

Mike Minor hasn't pitched well dominating the Cubs with 12 strikeouts, but the Braves always seem to score for him. Despite a record of 3-0 and an impressive K/BB ratio of nearly 4.5/1, Minor has struggled with consistency and has been bailed out multiple times by our jekyll-and-hyde offense. Mike had to fight through 5 innings against the Cardinals in his last start, and gave up 4 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings.

The Nationals Bullpen:

The Nats finally have a solid bullpen, and it's led by a young bunch of hard-throwing relievers. Closer Drew Storren has filthy stuff, but can be wild at times. Set-up man Tyler Clippard has been great for Washington in 2010. Middle relievers Joel Peralta, Sean Burnett, Doug Slaten and Tyler Walker have all been solid for the Nats, and journeyman reliever Miguel Batista has been pretty good when he pitches long-relief. All-in-all, a solid bunch.

To be honest, this is a series the Braves should sweep. That being said, I'll go in being pessimistic and say we'll win 2 out of 3. I just don't trust us against soft-tossing or left-handed pitchers at this point.

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