Fredi Gonzalez mentioned earlier this season that the Atlanta Braves would look forward to spoiling the fun for some other teams as the season wore down. With the New York Yankees coming to Turner Field for three games, they could try and start doing that.
But I wouldn't cross your fingers.
The Braves have won just one of their last 10 games, and weren't able to take a series against the lowly Colorado Rockies. Unfortunately enough for Atlanta fans, there's not too much of a difference in those two teams at the moment.
Which brings us to the Yankees. New York is in the midst of a playoff race of course, leading the AL Wild Card by four games, and just a game and a half behind Toronto in their own division. During this series the Braves will miss out on New York's best starting pitcher this season, Michael Pineda, but even with that, none of these pitching match ups look favorable for Atlanta.
Williams Perez has essentially forgotten how to do magic tricks (surprise, surprise) and work out of jams this season. Over his last five starts, Perez has posted a 7.98 ERA while allowing four home runs and walking 16 batters while striking out just 12. Opposing Perez, is Masahiro Tanaka, who will be making his first career start against the Braves. Tanaka hasn't been quite the pitcher he was last season, but he still isn't making it easy for hitters walking just 1.81 per nine innings.
Saturday pits a pair of young right-handers against each other in Matt Wisler and Luis Severino. Wisler has fallen off the table a bit (to say the least) through his five starts in August, as the 22-year-old starter has posted a 9.13 ERA through his five starts this month. At the end of July, Wisler had a 3.43 ERA. Currently it is two runs higher, at 5.43. This trend is not indicative of improvement. Meanwhile, Severino has looked extremely impressive in his first four Major League starts since being called up on August 5. He's posted a 2.74 ERA in those four games, while striking out 24 batters and walking eight.
During the finale, two starters with ample run support will be on the hill, so if you're looking to see runs, this is the game you want to tune into. Nathan Eovaldi leads the Yankees with a 13-2 record despite posting just a 4.00 ERA (Shelby Miller shakes his head) thanks to the fourth-best run support in baseball: 5.52 runs per start. And while it might be a stretch to say an Atlanta starter has ample run support, Julio Teheran has been the luckiest of the group for the Braves, getting 4.54 runs per start this season — the 21st-best in baseball.
So, there you have it. The Yankees haven't exactly been firing on all cylinders of late — they are just 5-5 in their last 10 games — but they still are the better team in every regard. It would be nice for the Braves to surprise us all and take a series against the Evil Empire, but I don't want to try and get your hopes up just to have them subsequently crushed.
Take solace in the fact that Turner Field should see fewer empty seats during this series... Or lament the fact that more pinstripe shirseys will be there than Tomahawks.