The Atlanta Braves aren't playing particularly well at the moment. The team has lost five of the past six games, with a sweep against the Washington Nationals and back-to-back losses following a series-opening win in Cincinnati, and as a result, Fredi Gonzalez and his crew enter the weekend in sole possession of fourth place in the NL East. Fortunately, the Braves have the opportunity to make up a bit of ground, as they face the Miami Marlins for a three-game set.
The Marlins lead the Braves by a half-game after Miami defeated the Dodgers on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak of their own. Atlanta has taken four out of six contests from the Marlins this season, including a sweep in the season-opening series, and the Braves will miss Miami's top two starters (from a "thus far in 2015" perspective) in Dan Haren and Jarred Cosart.
In addition, the Braves will send their "big three" to the mound over the weekend, with Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller taking the ball in succession. Teheran and Wood have been lackluster by their standards this season, posting ERA numbers north of 4.00, but pitching in a spacious ballpark in Miami could have a positive effect on those numbers.
On the flip from Teheran and Wood, Shelby Miller has been out of his mind recently. The 24-year-old has allowed only one run in his last 16 innings (two outings), and his 1.60 ERA is of the sparkling variety at this early stage. Miami's starting group of David Phelps, Mat Latos and Tom Koehler shouldn't scare anyone, but in the same breath, nothing would be surprising given Atlanta's offensive issues.
The Marlins and Braves appear to be relatively similar in their overall level of play to this point, though they are very different clubs. Given the pitching advantages on the Atlanta side, it wouldn't be crazy to project a series win for the visiting Braves, but if Teheran and Wood continue to struggle, the playing field will be leveled a great deal.
Stay tuned throughout the series for in-depth coverage in this space.
Friday, May 15 at 7:10 PM EST
ATL: Julio Teheran
2015: 3-1, 4.74 ERA, 5.75 FIP, 8.05 K/9, 4.03 BB/9
MIA: David Phelps
2015: 2-0, 2.90 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 5.52 K/9, 3.10 BB/9
Saturday, May 16 at 1:00 PM EST
ATL: Alex Wood
2015: 1-2, 4.28 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 6.98 K/9, 3.15 BB/9
MIA: Mat Latos
2015: 1-3, 4.72 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 7.34 K/9, 3.67 BB/9
Sunday, May 17 at 1:10 PM EST
ATL: Shelby Miller
2015: 4-1, 1.60 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 7.80 K/9, 3.00 BB/9
MIA: Tom Koehler
2015: 2-3, 4.62 ERA, 5.19 FIP, 6.46 K/9, 3.46 BB/9