Series Preview: Boston Red Sox vs. Atlanta Braves
Things are pretty gloomy around Boston right now, as the Red Sox losing streak has hit 10 after yesterday’s chaos in Tampa Bay. Next up on the schedule? A four game set against the first place Braves.
The Braves are currently 28-21, three games up on the surprising Miami Marlins in the NL East. For a Sox lineup that finds itself in a team-wide slump, the pitching of the Braves, tops in the league, will not be a welcome sight.
The probable pitching matchups:
Monday, May 26 1:00 PM: Clay Buchholz (2-4, 6.32 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (4-2, 3.42 ERA)
Tuesday, May 27 7:00 PM: Jon Lester (4-6, 3.36 ERA) vs. Aaron Harang (4-4, 3.32 ERA)
Wednesday, May 28 7:10 PM: John Lackey (5-3, 3.58 ERA) vs. Gavin Floyd (0-1, 2.49 ERA)
Thursday, May 29 7:10 PM: Jake Peavy (1-2, 4.65 ERA) vs. Mike Minor (2-3, 3.90 ERA)
We caught up withBrandon Woodworth from Tomahawk Take to get some more information on the Braves:
BSI: The Braves lost a few pitchers before the season to injury, yet their pitching numbers are still near the top of the league. Are you surprised at how strong their pitching has been?
Brandon: I guess the answer is yes and no. I fully expected the performances we’ve seen out of Julio Teheran and Alex Wood, even though currently Wood resides in the bullpen thanks to a pitching surplus. And that might be the most surprising thing to think about, is that a guy who has thrown a complete game and only walked 11 men in 52 innings is currently in the bullpen alongside another guy who has made some good starts this year in David Hale due to a pitching surplus even after the injury. Aaron Harang has been out of this world most of the time, and it looks like that new approach and velocity is the real deal. Gavin Floyd has surprised not only by his effectiveness, but that he actually came back from Tommy John ahead of schedule and with no setbacks. Santana has been as brilliant as ever, so no surprises there. I am really excited for to see how this surplus plays out.
BSI: The numbers on the offensive side, however, are down a little bit compared to the rest of the league. What’s been the biggest issue there?
Brandon: We aren’t a team that takes a lot of walks, so patience is the biggest issue. We strike out a lot, but we usually make up for it with power, which also has been a bit inconsistent (I type this after the Braves hit 4 homers in a 7-0 shutout of one of the best offenses in the game in Colorado). If hitters like B.J. Upton and Evan Gattis make the pitcher throw a few more pitches, the rest of the offense tends to benefit.
BSI: In the NL East, the Marlins have been a big surprise while the Nationals haven’t performed at the level many believe they would. Who do you feel is the biggest threat to the Braves in the East and why?
Brandon: It’s definitely the Nationals. The Marlins lost Jose Fernandez, also known as a win every 5 games, and while the rest of their team is developing into a solid young core, their pitching won’t hold forever, especially the bullpen. The Nationals will eventually see Bryce Harper, Adam Laroche, and Ryan Zimmerman return from the DL, and their pitching is still very, very good. I have never been one to underestimate them, but I’ve been one to point out the trouble the Nationals have in taking down the Braves for a division for a while now.
BSI: You get to take two players from the Red Sox to put on the Braves roster. Who would you take and why?
Brandon: Oh man, that is a very good question that I might have to steal. I think I have to go with Dustin Pedroia. It’s no secret second base is almost a black hole for Atlanta, and I’m not 100% sold on prospect Tommy La Stella, so being able to get a well-rounded player in Pedroia would be amazing. And I think the other has to be Mr. David Ross. I loved Rossy in his time with the Braves and so did many Braves fans, and it’s nothing against Gerald Laird, but Ross was a personality I loved having on my team. I hope he manages the Braves someday.