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Series Preview: Braves vs Reds

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Bad News Harris is here to ruin the Braves momentum

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since I started doing series coverage for Talking Chop an undeniable pattern has emerged. The Braves enter a series on a good note, have the advantage against an inferior team, I point these things out in the preview, and then things go totally to hell in the series. The series at San Diego had to be the epitome of this. So guess what folks? The Braves are playing well right now. Justin Upton is making a legitimate MVP push. Jason Heyward is hitting the ball with the kind of authority we haven't seen in years. The Reds are a disaster right now. Well I'm afraid I have some bad news. The Braves are screwed and totally getting swept.

The Reds come into the series having lost four in a row and approaching the point where they can be discounted from the playoff race. Their MVP Joey Votto is still on the disabled list and his absence has been a killer for the Reds all season. The surprise bat in the Reds lineup has been Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco leads the Reds with a 151 wRC+ and has been a massive unexpected contributor from the catcher position. He has tailed off in the second half of the season with a 107 wRC+ as opposed to his first half 171 wRC+ but his overall season numbers are still excellent. He is a dangerous hitter and the biggest concern for the Braves pitchers along with the Reds overall most valuable position player this year Todd Frazier.

Beyond that the lineup isn't particularly imposing. Billy Hamilton is a nightmare when he reaches base but his OBP is a mere 300. It goes without saying keeping the fastest man in MLB off the bases is a huge priority for Atlanta. Zack Cozart has been unbelievably awful at the plate but plays defense well enough to stay in the lineup. Brandon Phillips is a below league average hitter and doesn't have huge RBI totals without Votto getting on base constantly in front of him. The lineup is bad for the most part and if the Braves can keep the ball from leaving the matchbox Cincinnati calls a stadium they should be in good shape.

Through some miracle the Braves will avoid Johnny Cueto in this four game series. Cueto has been the Reds best player this year and his 2.24 ERA will not be an issue for Atlanta in this series. This should give the Braves a big pitching advantage in the series. The Reds bullpen includes possible best closer in baseball Aroldis Chapman (I am such a troll) but other than that it is a general dumpster fire. Especially awful has been former Brave JJ Hoover and his 5.27 ERA.

David Holmberg is making an emergency start for the Reds in game one of the series. Apparently Holberg is starting in place of Dylan Axelrod who had his last start pushed back after a water main broke in Colorado cancelling the game there. As a result Alexrod would have had to pitch this game on three days rest so he was sent down to the minors and Holmberg has been called up. Holmberg is left handed and has a 4.64 ERA in AAA this year. He is the kind of pitcher the Braves should mash so get ready for a shutout.

The worst matchup for Atlanta is definitely on Friday when Mike Minor faces Matt Latos. Minor has been better since his turn was skipped in the rotation but he will be pitching in the smallest park in baseball and a home run hitters paradise. Mike Minor struggles to avoid giving up homers. It is a bad combination. If you recall in a 2012 start Minor allowed three straight homers to Reds batters in this stadium including one to their pitcher. In addition Matt Latos is very good and has a 3.10 ERA this season. Honestly, do something better with your Friday night, don't subject yourself to this.

The rest of the matchups are fairly even but given the Braves advantages in most areas there is no reason they shouldn't win at least two games and likely three in this series. The Braves are the better team and are playing better right now. So prepare to burn me in effigy in the comment sections of the recaps.