Following their first series win since the opener, the Braves hit the road for a West Coast trip this week, beginning with a four-game set against the Dodgers.
Los Angeles is coming off a four-game series loss to the Cardinals at home, narrowly avoiding a sweep with a walk-off win on Sunday. After starting the season 6-4 in their first 10 games, the Dodgers lost five straight to fall to 7-9 on the season.
Monday, April 18 - 10:10 (SportSouth)
Tim Hudson (20.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 3.73 xFIP, 1.31 BB/9, 3.92 K/9, 66.7 GB%, 6.4 SwStr%)
(58.3 FB%, 15.5 SL%, 13.3 SF%, 6.4 CT%, 3.8 CH%, 2.7 CB%; 48.1 Swing%, 87 Contact%)
Ted Lilly (15 IP, 6.00 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 5.01 xFIP, 1.8 BB/9, 4.8 K/9, 32.1 GB%, 5.4 SwStr%)
(58.4 FB%, 15.1 SL%, 14.3 CB%, 12.2 CH%, 52.6 Swing%, 89.4 Contact%)
Tim Hudson gave up five runs in six innings against the Marlins in his last start, but the outing wasn't really that bad. He induced 17 ground balls, just one off his season high, and the five fly balls was his lowest through three starts. The high ground ball count in this outing upped his total to 66.7 GB% so far, which bests his career-high 64% from a year ago. Hudson is doing just fine.
Ted Lilly has allowed four runs, two runs and four runs in his three starts. He has reached five full innings just once. It hasn't been a great start for the left-hander. The reason is a much higher contact rate both in and out of the zone, as well as a much lower swinging strike rate. Lilly isn't missing bats, and a 21.4 LD% shows he is getting hit hard. He is throwing more fastballs and curveballs with fewer sliders, though his slider has usually been his more valuable pitch. This may be the reason for the terrible start.
Tuesday, April 19 - 10:10 (SportSouth)
Brandon Beachy (17.1 IP, 5.19 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 3.96 xFIP, 3.63 BB/9, 8.83 K/9, 31.3 GB%, 11 SwStr%)
(63.3 FB%, 15.5 SL%, 11.4 CB%, 9.8 CH%; 47.3 Swing%, 75.6 Contact%)
Hiroki Kuroda (20.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 3.63 xFIP, 0.87 BB/9, 5.23 K/9, 45.6 GB%, 10.2 SwStr%)
(59.7 FB%, 20.9 SL%, 12.2 SF%, 7.2 CB%; 51.5 Swing%, 79.4 Contact%)
Brandon Beachy's last start against the Marlins marked two straight outings of at least four runs allowed, giving up five runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings. His strikeouts returned as he punched out eight, but he also walked four, which is rare for Beachy. Also rare for Beachy is three home runs allowed in 17.1 innings. He is hitting his bumps as a rookie.
After two good starts to begin his season, Hiroki Kuroda allowed six runs in five innings against the Cardinals last time out. He has walked just two in 20.2 innings this season while maintaining a solid swinging strike and contact rate. Kuroda is establishing his curveball more this year while throwing far fewer sliders, and although the trade-off hasn't been huge, he is remaining consistent.
Wednesday, April 20 - 10:10 (SportSouth)
Derek Lowe (24.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 3.18 xFIP, 2.55 BB/9, 6.93 K/9, 55.7 GB%, 8.3 SwStr%)
(45.3 FB%, 28.6 SL%, 17.7 CH%, 8.4 CT%; 41.1 Swing%, 78.7 Contact%)
Jon Garland (2010: 200 IP, 3.47 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 4.22 xFIP, 3.92 BB/9, 6.12 K/9, 51.9 GB%, 7.2 SwStr%)
(56.8 FB%, 14.4 CT%, 10.7 SL%, 9.1 CB%, 9 CH%; 43.9 Swing%, 83.1 Contact%)
Derek Lowe has been the best pitcher on the team through four starts, allowing no more than two runs in any outing. The Braves are showing their trust in Lowe by starting him on three days rest, which he has done five times in his career. He continues to post solid rates, striking out four in his last start while allowing just two runs to the Mets. The double-digit fly ball counts in his last two starts have not been great to see, but they haven't bit him. It's something to watch to see if it is a pattern.
Jon Garland was hit hard in his season debut against the Cardinals, allowing five runs on nine hits - two homers - in just four innings. Garland is off to a rough start for his new team, starting the season on the disabled list with an oblique injury and now getting pounded in his debut. He has reached 200 innings six times in his career, and all six have come in his last seven seasons, so he has always been a dependable starter. Garland is throwing fewer fastballs and changeups while upping his cutters and breaking pitches. This would make sense if his velocity was decreasing, but it's not, and his fastball and changeup were actually quite valuable last season.
Thursday, April 21 - 3:10 (SportSouth)
Jair Jurrjens (2010: 116.1 IP, 4.64 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 4.29 xFIP, 3.25 BB/9, 6.65 K/9, 39.9 GB%, 8.9 SwStr%)
(63.9 FB%, 20.2 CH%, 15.9 SL%; 47.8 Swing%, 80.8 Contact%)
Clayton Kershaw (24.1 IP, 2.96 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 2.94 xFIP, 3.33 BB/9, 10.73 K/9, 43.3 GB%, 9.4 SwStr%)
(70.2 FB%, 21.1 SL%, 6.3 CB%, 2.5 CH%; 46.2 Swing%, 78.6 Contact%)
Jair Jurrjens dominated in his season debut, shutting out the Mets over seven innings with just two hits and one walk allowed. He relied more heavily on the fastball and changeup while throwing fewer sliders, and the fastball/changeup combination looked excellent. Jurrjens seems to be past the oblique injury that sidelined him through the first couple weeks of the season.
Clayton Kershaw has two shutouts out of his four starts this season, and he has established himself as a frontline ace for the Dodgers, especially after the Opening Day outing in which he outdueled Tim Lincecum over seven innings. Kershaw's K/BB of 3.22 is the best of his career so far due to a very high K-rate, and his line drive rate is sitting pretty at 16.7%. He has a tremendous slider that is the reason for many of his strikeouts, and his fastball runs 92-95 on most days. The Braves, like any opponent, will have their hands full with Kershaw.
Jonathan Broxton has allowed three runs in 6.1 innings so far, yet he has five saves. Broxton is never a sure thing in the ninth anymore, and his three strikeouts and two homers allowed are causing concern again. Newcomer Matt Guerrier has been solid for the Dodgers, pitching 7.2 scoreless innings. Mike MacDougal has allowed one run in 6.1 innings. The Dodgers are a little depleted in the bullpen, however, due to the loss of Hong-Chih Kuo with a back injury.
Projected Dodgers Lineup:
1. Tony Gwynn, LF
2. Casey Blake, 3B
3. Andre Ethier, RF
4. Matt Kemp, CF
5. Juan Uribe, SS
6. James Loney, 1B
7. Rod Barajas, C
8. Jamey Carroll, 2B
The Dodgers lost a big chunk of their offense with the disabling of Rafael Furcal. Juan Uribe was moved from third to shortstop to take his spot, while Casey Blake took over third base. Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles are swapping in and out at second base, so the middle of the infield took a hit. Tony Gwynn took over left field and provides a glove-first bat in the leadoff spot. The middle of the order remains solid, however, with Ethier, Kemp and Loney being the core.
For more on the series, Braves fans check out Talking Chop and Dodgers fans check out True Blue LA.