May 26, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) celebrates his two-run home run with teammate Jason Heyward (22) during the 5th inning against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
Seven straight losses. It's been a rough past week for the Braves against the Reds and Nationals. Unfortunately, things don't get much easier as the St. Louis Cardinals come into town for a three-game series.
St. Louis lost three of four to Philadelphia, but are still 26-22 on the year, 1.5 games behind the Reds in the NL Central. The Cardinals have best run differential in the National League, at +63. The only team with a better differential is the Texas Rangers at +97, so they're in pretty good company.
May has presented some trouble to St. Louis though, as they are 12-14 during the month. Atlanta swept the Cards in a three-game set a couple weeks ago, so maybe another series against the Redbirds can get things back on track.
It all starts with Carlos Beltran, who is hitting the cover off the ball so far in 2012. He's hitting .290/.388/.605 with a .424 wOBA and 173 wRC+. He leads the team in home runs with 15. Also hitting well is Rafael Furcal, with a triple slash line of .333/.395/.454, wOBA of .377, and wRC+ of 142.
Yadier Molina had to leave Sunday's game with dehydration, but is thought to be available for the series. He's hitting .325/.370/.538 with a .397 wOBA and 155 wRC+. Matt Holliday's numbers are down a little bit, but he's still hitting well and should see those numbers correct themselves. He's at .267/.346/.476 with a .355 wOBA and 127 wRC+.
David Freese has seen an uptick in his power. He homered 10 times in 97 games last year, and has already tied that mark in 44 games this year. He's hitting .270/.326/.509. with a .359 wOBA and 129 wRC+.
The replacement for Berkman is Matt Adams, who was recently called up from Triple-A. The lefty slugger is rough in the field, but can really hit. He's at .345/.387/.586 in eight games. In center, Skip Schumaker has been getting the majority of the starts in place of Jay. He's hitting .314/.372/.443 on the year.
Pitching match-ups and a look at the Cardinals bullpen after the jump:
Monday May 28th, 1:10 PM ET
In game one, Lance Lynn takes the mound against Tommy Hanson. Lynn is 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA, 3.24 FIP, and 3.44 xFIP. In his last few starts, Lynn has struggled some with his control, allowing 12 walks in his last four starts. He also hasn't gone past six innings in any of those four starts, so that will be something to watch for the Braves. Lynn is striking out just over eight batters per nine while walking just over three per nine. In terms of stuff, he is primarily four-seam, two-seam, curve-ball. He throws hard, averaging almost 94 miles per hour on his fastball. The emergence of his two-seam has been key for his development this year. Lynn gets a decent amount of swing and misses on his curve, at 12.87%. He saw the Braves a couple of weeks ago, going six innings while giving up three runs and striking out seven.
Tuesday May 29th, 7:10 PM ET
In game two, Jake Westbrook takes on Randall Delgado. So far in 2012, Westbrook is 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA, 3.30 FIP, and 3.45 xFIP. As always, Westbrook has an elite ground-ball rate, sitting at just over 60-percent this season. He's striking out just over six batters per nine, while walking under three batters per nine. In terms of stuff, he relies on his very good sinker that he's throwing at an average of 91 miles per hour this year. 66-percent of his pitches so far this year have been sinkers. He also throws a cutter, change, and curve-ball. The cutter has been his second most used pitch this year, at 17-percent of the time. He's thrown the curve and change about equally in 2012, with the curve recording a higher whiff rate at over 14%.
Wednesday May 30, 7:10 PM ET
In the series finale, Kyle Lohse takes on Tim Hudson. Lohse is 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA, 3.26 FIP, and 3.95 xFIP in 2012, and has seen his strikeout rate stay stable (5.23/9) while his walk rate has plummeted to 1.31 batters per nine innings. Lohse throws five pitches: a four-seam, sinker, slider, curve, and change. He throws his sinker 22-percent of the time, but doesn't get a ton of ground-balls with it. He throws his fastball and sinker both around 90 miles per hour. Lohse has used his slider heavily in 2012, throwing it 23-percent of the time at an average of around 84 miles per hour. His change gets a good amount of whiffs, over 19-percent, by far the best of any of his offerings. Every now and then, Lohse will mix in an extremely slow curve-ball at around 75 miles per hour. He allowed six hits and three runs (two earned) in 6.2 innings against the Phillies in his last start.
***All pitch data from Brooksbaseball.net***
Jason Motte - RH (CL)
Mitchell Boggs - RH
Marc Rzepczynski - LH
Victor Marte - RH
Eduardo Sanchez - RH
Brandon Dickson - RH
Chuckie Fick - RH