It has been a bizarre 2016 season for the Atlanta Braves.
The team opened with nine (yes, nine) consecutive losses, followed that streak of sadness with four straight victories, and now, Fredi Gonzalez's crew has dropped five in a row as the Boston Red Sox arrive at Turner Field on Monday. This is the start of a four-game, two-city split series, and Interleague play is always fun when it comes against a legendary organization like Boston. However, the biggest task for the Braves at this point is simply to pick up a skid-stopping victory.
Julio Teheran takes the ball for the Braves in the series opener, and it has been a rough open to the season for the team's "ace" right-hander. Teheran has accumulated an ugly 5.64 ERA (4.98 FIP) across four starts and 22.1 innings, and against a potent American League lineup, things aren't going to get easier on Monday evening. There were signs of life in Teheran's last outing against the Dodgers, but until his numbers stabilize over a wider sample, skepticism will prevail in the minds of many in Braves Country.
As for Boston, the Red Sox will send Rick Porcello to the mound for the opener and the 27-year-old right-hander has put together an interesting season. He has struck out 24 batters in only 19.1 innings, while walking only three over that time period. Those are, obviously, startlingly good numbers, but Porcello has struggled to a 4.66 ERA and that is encouraging for Atlanta's bats here. Furthermore, he is a right-hander and, well, the Braves would much rather see an offering from that side of the mound at this point.
Lastly, the lineup for Monday's game is... interesting.
Yes, that is Freddie Freeman hitting sixth in the lineup with A.J. Pierzynski in the cleanup role and both Daniel Castro and Jeff Francoeur in the top five spots. Use your imagination for what Fredi Gonzalez is attempting to do here, and stay with us throughout the night for full coverage. Enjoy it.
Game Date/Time: Monday, April 25, 2016, 7:10 pm ET
Location: Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Fox Sports South, MLB.tv (streaming)
Radio: 680 AM, 93.7 FM (Flagship in Atlanta), WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network