The Braves are in my territory and will play the Mets in a big three game series. With a half game lead in the wildcard and a three game deficit in the East, the Braves need to win every game possible to keep their playoff hopes alive. I'll be at the game tonight, so hopefully I can bring the team some good luck.
Jacob Peterson of Talking Chop dissects the pitching matchups for the weekend:
Friday, 7:00 ET: Tommy Hanson (5.93 IP/S, 3.54 ERA, 3.35 FIP) vs. Jon Niese (5.98 IP/S, 3.85 ERA, 4.12 FIP)
Big Red has pitched very well in his last 3 starts (4 ER in 20 IP, only 3 BB to 12 K), including a dominant 7-shutout-inning performance against the Mets in Atlanta. Niese, a 23-year-old left-hander, has been consistently solid all year for the Mets. He has hit a bit of a rough patch in his last 4 starts (18 ER in 23.1 IP), though his strikeout and walk rates have been just fine in that time (24 K, 10 BB). In one of those starts, he gave up 8 runs (3 earned) on 10 hits to the Braves. Hopefully Derrek Lee and the Braves' other right-handed batters can repeat that performance against Niese.
Saturday, 4:00 ET: Tim Hudson (6.77 IP/S, 2.62 ERA, 3.81 FIP) vs. Dillon Gee (6.50 IP/S, 0.69 ERA, 4.63 FIP)
Huddy has hit his first extended rough patch of 2010 lately, but I'm sure he'll get back on track soon. We need him to step up and be the ace of the staff. Gee, a 24-year-old rookie right-hander, has made two very good starts with the big league club since being called up this month. His peripherals, however, aren't that great (7 K and 7 BB in 13 IP), so a regression from that microscopic ERA would seem to be in order. Gee was decent for AAA Buffalo this year, putting up good K and BB rates (8.91 K/9, 2.28 BB/9) but giving up a fair number of homers (1.17 HR/9).
Sunday, 1:00 ET: Derek Lowe (5.90 IP/S, 4.22 ERA, 4.03 FIP) vs. R.A. Dickey (6.71 IP/S, 2.80 ERA, 3.63 FIP)
Since having his spot in the rotation skipped, Lowe has surprisingly been the Braves' best starter. He even set a career high with 12 strikeouts his last time out. Hopefully, he can keep up that strong work on Sunday, because Dickey and his knuckleballs-of-many-speeds are a tough matchup. I'm starting to believe that Dickey's renaissance is real; while he is 35 and has never even been average before this season, his peripherals are good enough to indicate that he is now at least a solid starter (though that 2.80 ERA is probably not sustainable).
If Lowe is able to continue to pitch as well as he has, the Braves could have the advantage in every pitching matchup. This is a huge serious despite the Mets not being in contention. Beating the weaker team, although they have been better than the Braves the past few weeks, is how you get your team into the playoffs.