September 6, 2010

Series Preview: Atlanta Braves

It's Labor Day and we could not have a finer day here in Pittsburgh for holiday baseball. The Braves come to town with a 79-58 record, clinging to a one game lead in the NL East. With the Pirates record now at 45-91, Atlanta has to be looking at this series as an opportunity to build some office space 35 miles from the city center and that is something Atlanta likes.

We quite literally cried in our beer after his trade last year, but Nate McLouth is hitting .168/.278/.262 this year after apparently just flat out losing his stroke. McLouth is back on the Braves roster for September as a bench bat.Not much else has gone wrong with the Braves lineup. Catcher Brian McCann (.289/.389/.487) has put together his finest season. Right fielder Jason Heyward (.281/.389/.473) has lived up to the hype. Omar Infante (.342/.376/.446) has filled in admirably for various injured players, including currently Chipper Jones with Jones out for the year. This is a strong and deep crew that's second in the league in run scoring.That being said, the shutdown bullpen is the real strength of this team and will make the Braves a formidbable postseason club if they can make it that far. Billy Wagner (1.56 ERA), Johnny Venters (1.77), Peter Moylan (3.23), Takashi Saito (2.70) and Eric O'Flaherty (2.27) are the featured players.

Atlanta Braves - Monday 1:35, Tuesday 7:05, Wednesday 7:05
Tommy Hanson (9-10, 3.60) gets the ball today for Bobby Cox's team against, joy of joys, Brian Burres (2-3, 6.31). Hanson relies on a 93 mph fastball and hard breaking slider which have made him one of the top strikeout guys in baseball despite having just turned 24. On our side, you might have noticed that championship teams never have Brian Burres on the roster. My pick is the Pirates.

Tomorrow night it'll be Tim Hudson (15-6, 2.30) against James McDonald (2-3, 5.62). Hudson is a legitimate Cy Young contender, somehow putting together the best season of his career at age 35. No one expected him to even be healthy at this point in the season; instead he's near unbeatable. McDonald for his part has the best stuff on the Pittsburgh staff already. I think his statistics have suffered by staying in a couple of games for too long, but I am excited about him going forward. My pick is the PIrates.

Wednesday night, Zach Duke (7-12, 5.24) will try to end the losing streak get the sweep against Derek Lowe (11-12, 4.53). Lowe might be close to the end of the line as an effective starter but he keeps his team in games. And that team is not the Pirates so they actually win some of them. Duke at this point hasn't in my mind even earned the right to be tendered a contract in the offseason. My pick is the Pirates.

No comments:

Post a Comment