The Braves head back to Atlanta after a 2-5 road trip through Los Angeles and San Diego to take on the San Francisco Giants. During the series in San Francisco, the Braves were 1-3 as they couldn't muster much of anything in run creation or prevention.
San Francisco comes into the series 34-31 and 2.5 games back in the NL West. They are middle of the pack in runs scored on the season (16th) but are 21st in ERA. Buster Posey, not surprisingly, leads the offense with a line of .299/.376/.491 and remains one of the better players in the game. Hunter Pence has added his two-cents (sorry ... couldn't help it) with a .294/.339/.508 line, and he leads the team in fWAR with 2.8 to Posey's 2.1 as he's hit well while also adding defensive value and 12 stolen bases. Marco Scutaro continues to defy his age as he's hitting .332/.388/.444 on the season. On the flip side of the age spectrum, Brandon Crawford has slowed from his torrid start, but he's still hitting .287/.346/.430 while adding his solid defense, and Brandon Belt has bounced back from a slow start to post a .251/.232/.422 line that looks better given the appropriate context. The Braves will miss two Giants starting position players in Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval as both are on the DL.
The main culprit behind the poor team ERA is the starting rotation, which was once one of the best in baseball, as Tim Lincecum and, especially, Matt Cain haven't performed up to their usual standards. The starting rotation ranks 25th in baseball in ERA, but the peripherals do suggest they've been quite a bit better - 4.04 FIP. Their LOB% of 64.4% is the worst in baseball and a major reason they've pitched so poorly, whether it's just random sequencing or an actual issue pitching from the stretch. The bullpen, however, is a source of strength, and it's ERA is 8th in baseball at 3.10. Sergio Romo has done an excellent job as the closer -16/18 saves and a 2.52 ERA.
The Braves may want to try something new and get ahead early and stay there because this bullpen won't cough up many leads.
Friday, June 14th, 7:30 PM on FOX Sports South and MLB Network
Saturday, June 15th, 4:05 PM on FOX Sports South and MLB Network
Sunday, June 16th (Father's Day), 8:05 PM on ESPN