The Braves unveiled Jair Jurrjens in 2008, they unleashed Tommy Hanson in 2009, and on Monday they will reveal stud rookie pitcher version 2010, left-hander Mike Minor. The talented rookie pitcher was only drafted last year, and has barely spent a full year in professional baseball. He takes the rotation spot of the injured Kris Medlen until Kenshin Kawakami is ready to rejoin the rotation.
Here is what Talking Chop has to say about the pitching matchups for the series:
Monday, 8:05 EST: Mike Minor (3.44 ERA, 10.9 K/9, 3.17 K/BB in MiLB) vs. Bud Norris (4-7, 5.65 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 2.28 K/BB)
Minor has been great this season in the minors and looks to transition that success into the majors. Jacob wrote a very good article on what to expect from Minor this season, and he really couldn't get introduced into the majors in a better way. The Astros have a putrid offense, so I expect Minor to pitch relatively well tonight. Norris actually hasn't been too bad this year, despite the high ERA. He strikes out more than a batter per inning but he also walks over four batters per nine. If the Braves stay patient like they usually do, they should be able to get enough base runners on to score some runs on Bud.
Tuesday, 8:05 EST: Jair Jurrjens (4-4, 4.48 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 1.92 K/BB) vs. J.A. Happ (2-1, 4.03 ERA, 5.39 FIP, 0.84 K/BB)
The Braves face a familiar foe in J.A. Happ on Tuesday night. Happ was moved to Houston in the Roy Oswalt deal. He has had a good start and a bad start since then, throwing six scoreless innings in his first start followed by a one inning, seven runs allowed performance in his latest outing. He has had some success in his career against the Braves, posting a 2.23 ERA in five starts, but he also has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of just 18-12 against them. Jair battled through his last start, allowing just two runs over six innings despite starting off poorly. This is probably the most evenly matched game of the series.
Wednesday, 2:05 EST: Tommy Hanson (8-8, 3.69 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 3.25 K/BB) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (9-11, 4.34 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 2.32 K/BB)
The curse of Kenshin Kawakami has now hit Tommy Hanson, but I don't see that trend continuing in his next start, even though the Braves are opposing a decent lefty. Hanson's season has been absolutely phenomenal but the Braves haven't been able to score for him lately or play defense. I expect him to dominate the Astro's lineup though, hopefully leading to a victory for him and the team. Rodriguez is a pretty solid, veteran left-handed starter, and that is a combination that usually gives the Braves a bit of trouble (see Moyer, Jamie).
Head over to Talking Chop for more of the Braves-Astros series preview.