Cleveland Indians Series Preview: Atlanta Braves, August 27-August 29

Freddie Freeman picking it. - Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After a short respite at home, The Indians head to the deep South to Turner Field to take on the Atlanta Braves.

The Tribe head south to Coca-Cola country and the Atlanta Braves for a three game set Tuesday through Thursday. All three matchups are set for 7:10 PM starts. After the game, they will fly to Detroit for out final series with division leading Detroit Friday through Sunday.

Scoreboard Watch: Yankees at Blue Jays, A's at Tigers, Orioles at Red Sox, Angles at Rays, Royals at Twins, and Rangers at Mariners

Team in a Box

Atlanta Braves

Offense

NL Rank

Pitching

NL Rank

2013 Record

78-52

Runs/Game

4.4

1st

Runs/Game

3.4

1st

NL East

1st

OBP

324

4th

H/9

8.1

3rd

Last 10

5-5

SLG

408

2nd

BB/9

2.6

1st

Last 30

22-8

Steals

45

13th

SO/9

7.7

8th

The Braves have run away with a division in preseason that supposed to be the Nationals for the taking. And with the Phillies semi-imploding and the Mets and marlins in full-fledged rebuilds, the Braves have taken advantage. They currently lead the division by 13 games and barring an epic collapse, will be in the postseason, again. In fact no division rival has been within 5 games since July 10. A runaway. And it is clear to see why, they lead the NL in runs scored and runs allowed. They hit well, up and down the lineup. They don't beat themselves by allowing the fewest walks. They have an excellent bullpen. They also have depth. As the Braves have been hit by a massive run of injuries, they are still 22-8 in their last 30 games.

Projected Lineup

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

LF

Jordan Schafer

L

188

270

353

405

107

RF

Justin Upton

R

524

264

358

481

127

1B

Freddie Freeman

L

503

313

390

480

136

3B

Chris Johnson

R

431

331

367

469

126

C

Brian McCann

L

319

270

342

498

126

SS

Andrelton Simmons

R

542

248

295

368

80

CF

BJ Upton

R

375

182

263

291

51

2B

Elliot Johnson

S

188

186

222

243

28

Evan Gattis (105 OPS+) is listed as the starting left fielder, but hasn't started since last Thursday and isn't listed on the injury report. I would expect him to play at least once behind the dish in this series. Even without injured Uggla (89) and Heyward (109), this lineup is still formidable. Chris Johnson has blossomed this year, making the throw-in for the Justin Upton deal, that much sweeter. The only break is at the bottom third where BJ Upton is having a terrible season and light hitting Elliot Johnson is filling in for Uggla. The Braves currently have Joey Terdoslavich (101) and Todd Cunningham (7 PA) for outfield depth and Paul Janish (4 OPS+) in the infield and Gerald Laird (114) as the third catcher.

Projected Starters

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Aug 27

Alex Wood (Salazar)

L

2.50

57.2

156

7.0

2.5

9.5

Aug 28

Paul Maholm (Masterson)

L

4.51

123.2

86

9.8

2.8

6.3

Aug 29

Kris Medlen (Jimenez)

R

3.74

154.0

103

9.5

2.3

6.9

We catch a break this go round as we miss both Mike Minor (130 ERA+) and phenom Julio Teheran (126). Wood is a second rounder from last year who came up in late May in the pen and moved to the rotation when Tim Hudson had that gruesome ankle injury. Since moving to the rotation, he is 2-0 in six starts, 2.52 ERA, 1.065 WHIP and 8.8 K/9 in 35.2 innings. He obviously has never faced the Tribe before. Maholm just returned from a DL stint that cost him the last week of July and most of August. He was just ok against the Braves in his last start, five runs, four earned, five hits, three walks and four strikeouts in just 5.1 innings. He has made three career starts against the Tribe, 0-2, 4.42 ERA, 1.364 WHIP and 7.4 K/9, all when he was with the Pirates. Medlen has been very effective in his last six starts, 4-2, 3.60 ERA, 1.114 WHIP, 7.2 K/9 in 35 innings. He has never faced the Indians either.

Key Relievers

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Craig Kimbrel

R

1.03

52.2

379

5.3

2.9

13.3

Luis Avilan

L

1.33

54.1

294

5.0

3.3

5.0

Jordan Walden

R

2.47

43.2

158

6.4

2.7

10.7

Kimbrel is one of the top closers in the game. He has two losses this year and only two blown saves in 43 chances. He is tough to hit, and strikes a ton of guys out. We better hope we don't face him in the ninth, because I don't like our chances with the way this team strikes out. Avilan has five wins in relief, no losses, 21 holds and no blown saves. He doesn't strike many guys out, but that usually means he's a crafty lefty, which gives this team fits. Walden is a former Angel who has fit in well in Atlanta. He is 4-2 overall with just one blown save himself. He hasn't fared well against the Indians in the past, a 6.14 ERA in 7.1 innings, 1.909 WHIP but a 14.7 K/9. Neither Kimbrel of Avilan has faced the Tribe as we haven't met the Braves since 2007. Other arms include Scott Downs (9 IP), Luis Ayala (151 ERA+), Anthony Varvaro (120) and David Carpenter (197).

On the Shelf

  • SP Brandon Beachy (right elbow infammation) - 15-day DL, no timetable defined
  • RF Jason Heyward (jaw surgery) - 15-day DL, possibly late September
  • SP Tim Hudson (ankle surgery) - 15-day DL, out for season
  • 3B Chris Johnson (turf toe) - day-to-day
  • LF Reed Johnson (Achilles tendinitis) - 15-day DL, possibly late August
  • RP Christhian Martinez (shoulder surgery) - 60-day DL, out for season
  • RP Eric O'Flaherty (2013 Tommy John surgery) - 60-day DL, out for season
  • SS Tyler Pastornicky (torn left ACL) - 15-day DL, out for season
  • SS Ramiro Pena (right shoulder surgery) - 15-day DL, out for season
  • 2B Dan Uggla (Lasik surgery) - 15-day DL, AAA rehab
  • RP Johnny Venters (2013 Tommy John surgery) - 60-day DL, out for season

That the Braves are this far in first place with that amount of hits to the lineup and rotation is a testament to their front office. The only concern I might have is that their depth may begin to show come playoff time.

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

2012

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Last 5

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Last 10

3

3

500

20

21

478

All-Time

3

3

500

20

21

478

X
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