After an exciting but ultimately disappointing Opening Day affair, the Braves look to garner a win in 2016 as Bud Norris will take the hill against Stephen Strasburg.
Bud Norris will be trying to right the regular-season ship after a disastrous 2015 season in which he lost his rotation spot and was cut by the Orioles, only to lock down a bullpen role for the Padres. Norris got the most innings of any Braves pitcher in Spring Training and locked down a rotation spot despite not particularly impressing: he put up a 6.46 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP against lighter competition in Florida, though his peripherals were perhaps somewhat more encouraging with a 21/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Potential phenom Stephen Strasburg also did not have a great Spring Training, making four starts and allowing five runs (two home runs) in 14 innings, along with 16 hits, five walks, and 19 punchouts. Of course, Strasburg's had a career as a tough (if occasionally fragile) customer, and put up a sub-3.00 FIP last season, notching 155 strikeouts in 127 innings of work. Oblique ailments slowed Strasburg down in 2015, but he still posted a 3.4 fWAR and 1.8 rWAR, which pro-rate to 5.4 fWAR and 2.8 rWAR over 200 innings. For the season, Strasburg struck out nearly 30 percent of the hitters he faced, and actually pushed this to 37 percent (while walking just three percent) over his last 10 starts of the year. Expect to see a lot of whiffs if he's on his game.
Lineup-wise, something fairly similar to Opening Day should transpire for both clubs. Bryce Harper delighted (or annoyed) the baseball world with his Opening Day homer, and Daniel Murphy has changed uniforms but will still likely torment the Braves, as he did with his game-winning hit on Monday afternoon. The Braves will hope to counter with Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia (?!) once again, and will cross their fingers that no more costly defensive miscues occur in this contest.
Fun (sometimes sad, depending on your point of view) facts:
- Stephen Strasburg made two starts against the Braves last year and pitched 11 scoreless innings across them, allowing 10 hits and two walks while striking out 13. The Nationals won both of those games, 3-0, and 3-1.
- On the flip side, though, Freddie Freeman absolutely torments Strasburg: he's had 36 PAs against him and has hit .429/.500/.821 against the righty, with 3 homers, 2 doubles, and 6 walks. No other hitter that's faced him more than 10 times has a higher OBP against him.
- Bud Norris' birth name is "David Stefan Norris."