For the first time during the 2016 season, the Atlanta Braves will face a team on Friday night that isn't projected to make the MLB playoffs. The Miami Marlins are certainly seen as a solid team on the surface and there is nothing wrong with their 3-4 start in the standings, but after nine consecutive losses to the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals to open the campaign, the Braves will accept the "break".
You would have to be living under a rock to avoid talk surrounding Atlanta's winless start to the season, and that will be the backdrop of every game until Fredi Gonzalez and company can pick up a win. In the series opener in Miami, the Braves will send Williams Perez to the mound against Miami's Wei-Yin Chen, and unfortunately for Atlanta, that may be a mismatch in favor of the Marlins.
Chen was dinged for five earned runs in five innings during his first (and only) start in a Marlins uniform on Apr. 5, but the left-hander put together a very successful season in 2015. The 30-year-old navigated 191.1 innings with a 3.34 ERA in the American League, and given that he is a southpaw, Chen automatically poses a threat to a Braves lineup that leans heavily on the left-handed side of the batter's box.
As for Perez, the 24-year-old right-hander also wasn't terribly inspiring in his 2016 debut, allowing four earned runs and failing to emerge from the fifth inning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Miami's lineup isn't quite as deep as the one posed by St. Louis, but in the same breath, there is some concern (at least from me) that Perez does not profile as a legitimate MLB starter, and Miami's lineup has some land mines in the form of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and even Dee Gordon at the top.
Make no mistake, this is yet another game that the Braves could win. Atlanta has been in control of a number of contests despite their 0-9 record and, each time, the bullpen and/or defense has let the team down. Getting to Wei-Yin Chen may not be easy in the early innings, but if the team can work its way into the bullpen, this may actually be a match-up where that is beneficial.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest, as Braves Country waits for a victory with bated breath.
Game Date/Time: Friday, April 15, 2016, 7:10 pm ET
Location: Marlins Park, Miami, Florida
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, MLB.tv (streaming)
Radio: 680 AM, 93.7 FM (Flagship in Atlanta), WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network