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Braves Take On Marlins In Divisional Showdown

This weekend the Braves travel down to rainy south Florida to take on the Marlins. Here are the pitching matchups, as described by Talking Chop:

Friday, 7:00 PM ET: Derek Lowe (10-8, 4.39 ERA, 4.27 FIP) vs. Alex Sanabia (1-1, 2.12 ERA, 3.70 FIP)

Lowe is coming off of two straight mediocre starts. He went only 5.1 innings in each one, giving up a total of 5 runs on 16 hits (including 3 homers). One positive sign is that he struck out 9 versus only 3 walks in those 2 starts. One negative sign is that he got only 43% ground balls in those starts. His season rate is 58%, and he really needs to be up around 60% to be successful.

Sanabia is a relative unknown who the Marlins recently called up from AA Jacksonville, where he was 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 14 starts. He had a decent strikeout rate in AA (6.94 K/9) but a fantastic walk rate (only 1.71 BB/9). He also allowed only 2 homers in 84.1 IP. The 21-year-old right-hander from San Diego has taken the baseball world mostly by surprise; I haven't seen him on any prospect lists at all, not even a token mention as a "sleeper" pick. In fact, he didn't even make John Sickels' Top 40 Marlins prospects list before the season. Yet, it's hard to ignore his numbers as a 21-year-old in AA. I'd liken his out-of-nowhere success somewhat to our own Brandon Beachy (though Beachy strikes out more guys).

So far in the majors, Sanabia has made 3 long relief appearances and 2 starts. In the 2 starts, he's pitched only 8.2 innings but has yet to allow a run. He's given up 9 hits and 3 walks with 7 strikeouts in those games. In his last start, on Sunday against the Nationals, he gave up no runs in 5.1 innings as the Marlins won 1-0.

Saturday, 7:00 PM ET: Kris Medlen (6-2, 3.31 ERA, 3.84 FIP) vs. Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 3.62 ERA, 3.45 FIP)

Medlen returns to the rotation after a brief All-Star-break-induced trip to the bullpen. In his last 4 outings (all in relief), Kris has given up 4 runs (3 earned) in 5 innings. In his last start, on July 7th against Philadelphia, he gave up 4 runs in 6.2 innings thanks in large part to 2 home runs. Though that was probably his worst start this year, he still picked up the win.

Sanchez has been struggling a bit lately, although his defense has not helped him (which isn't surprising--the Marlins rank just 19th in team UZR and 25th in team DRS). In his last 3 starts, including one against the Braves, he has given up 14 runs (11 earned) in 16 innings. He has not allowed a homer in those 3 starts but his strikeout to walk ratio is just 10:6.

Sunday, 1:00 PM ET: Jair Jurrjens (3-3, 4.25 ERA, 4.63 FIP) vs. Chris Volstad, (4-8, 4.78 ERA, 4.29 FIP)

Jurrjens' overall numbers still don't look great, but he has been very good since returning from the DL on June 30th. In 4 starts (24.2 IP) he has given up just 6 runs (2.19 ERA) on 19 hits (including 3 homers). He's still walking a few too many (10 walks since his return) but his strikeout rate has gone up (20 strikeouts, 7.30 K/9). If he can keep the walks and homers relatively under control, he should continue to be successful.

Volstad is the likely starter for the Marlins; if he can't go, it will be Ricky Nolasco. Volstad threw 70 pitches in a rehab start in AAA on Wednesday. In his last major-league action, on July 6th, he was roughed up for 5 runs in 3 innings against the Dodgers. He has a 6.86 ERA in his last four starts.


The Marlins may be in 4th place, but they always play the Braves tough. They also are coming off a series in which they won 3 of 4 games from the Rockies, so they are certainly capable of beating the Braves, too.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.