After a hugely successful first half of the season and an interesting All-Star break, the Braves get back into action tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers are just 40-49 on the year so far, and while their hitting is very good, their pitching has struggled immensely. Their one star pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, is on the disabled list and will miss the series, so the Braves get lucky there.
Brewers outfielder Corey Hart, who has been among the home run leaders all year, has been the subject of many trade rumors, including supposed interest from the Braves. It will be interesting to see if his performance in this series has any effect on those rumors.
The most important news for Braves fans about this series is that phenom outfielder Jason Heyward has been activated off the disabled list and will be starting in right field tonight. The Braves sent shortstop Brandon Hicks back down to AAA Gwinnett to make room for Heyward.
Also of note will be the debut of new Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who was acquired from the Blue Jays yesterday in a five-player deal that saw the struggling Yunel Escobar shipped to Toronto.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Thursday: Jair Jurrjens (1-3, 5.40 ERA) vs. Dave Bush (4-6, 4.14 ERA)
Friday: Tommy Hanson (8-5, 4.13 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (6-8, 4.56 ERA)
Saturday: Tim Hudson (9-4, 2.30 ERA) vs. Chris Narveson (7-6, 6.02 ERA)
Sunday: Derek Lowe (9-8, 4.35 ERA) vs. Manny Parra (3-6, 4.65 ERA)
Check out Talking Chop's series preview for lots more.