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Braves Vs. Padres: Atlanta Carries Momentum Of Sweep To San Diego

After a rough series in Los Angeles in which they lost three of four to the Dodgers, the Braves responded with a three-game sweep of the Giants in San Francisco. They now head to San Diego for a three-game series with the Padres before returning home.

The Padres are in the midst of a rough beginning to their season, sitting at 8-14 and last in the NL West. They are coming off the losing end of a four-game sweep against the Phillies in which they scored a grand total of three runs.

Only one team is worse than the Braves in the National League in wOBA and that is the Padres at .276. They are actually a patient team, recording the second best BB% in the league at 10.1%, but they have the worst on-base and slugging numbers in the league, as well. If they have one thing going for them on offense, it is steals (first in NL with 27) and walks (second in NL with 10.1%). But they don't mean much when you can't move the runners around.

Monday, April 25 - 10:05 (SportSouth)
Derek Lowe (27.2 IP, 3.25 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 3.02 xFIP, 2.6 BB/9, 7.81 K/9, 54.9 GB%, 8.6 SwStr%)
(46.4 FB%, 26.9 SL%, 17.2 CH%, 9.4 CT%; 38.6 Swing%, 77 Contact%)
vs.
Dustin Moseley (25.2 IP, 1.40 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 4.15 xFIP, 2.45 BB/9, 2.81 K/9, 58.1 GB%, 5.6 SwStr%)
(53.8 FB%, 19.1 CB%, 18 SL%, 9 CH%; 43.4 Swing%, 86 Contact%)

Lowe suffered through the worst start of his season so far in his last start, allowing five runs on nine hits in three innings. The trend of increasing amounts of fly balls allowed seemed to finally catch up to him, but he also had some hits that bled through holes. Lowe's two starts prior to the last one, while not bad by any means, have given a pretty good indication that some concern is worthy, and now his last start proved that. He needs a bounce back outing against a poor offensive team in the Padres.

Moseley is pitching over his head so far this season, allowing just six runs in 25.2 innings despite only eight strikeouts. Even the ground ball rate is over his head, as he has never posted a number better than 49.1% in his career. The ground ball are probably just luck and variance more than anything, because his pitch numbers and contact numbers are pretty much in line with his averages. Whether the Braves are able to knock him out of his hot streak is not certain, but he's due for a fall at some point.

Tuesday, April 26 - 10:05 (SportSouth)
Jair Jurrjens (13 IP, 0.69 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 3.55 xFIP, 2.08 BB/9, 6.92 K/9, 44.1 GB%, 6.2 SwStr%)
(65.5 FB%, 21.8 CH%, 12.6 SL%; 45.6 Swing%, 86.2 Contact%)
vs.
Aaron Harang (24 IP, 1.88 ERA, 1.92 FIP, 3.38 xFIP, 1.88 BB/9, 7.88 K/9, 33.3 GB%, 8.2 SwStr%)
(65.4 FB%, 23.2 SL%, 9.5 CH%, 1.9 CB%; 44.1 Swing%, 80.8 Contact%)

Jurrjens has posted two solid starts since his return from the disabled list. His most recent was one run allowed on seven hits over six innings against the Dodgers, walking two and striking out six. Three walks to 10 strikeouts is good to see for Jurrjens so far, and hopefully the walk rate remains solid throughout the year. He has shown great command on all of his pitches, but especially the fastball/changeup combination. He has allowed a pretty high contact number, however, and the changeup hasn't led to many swings and misses.

Harang was widely considered to be a great pickup for the Padres this offseason due to price and the fact that he can allow all the fly balls he wants at Petco Park. The signing has lived up to the billing so far, as Harang has allowed no more than two runs while going six innings in each of his first four starts. He has been a model of consistency, and his control has been great, walking just one over his last 12 innings. His most recent start was two runs on nine hits in six innings against the Cubs, not walking any and striking out five. Yes, the fly ball rate is extremely high, but Harang has yet to allow a home run, and that includes two starts on the road.

Wednesday, April 27 - 3:35 (SportSouth)
Tommy Hanson (28 IP, 3.21 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 3.53 xFIP, 2.57 BB/9, 7.71 K/9, 46.1 GB%, 7.4 SwStr%)
(55 FB%, 22.5 SL%, 16 CB%, 6.5 CH%; 42.2 Swing%, 81.4 Contact%)
vs.
Mat Latos (16.2 IP, 5.94 ERA, 6.35 FIP, 3.99 xFIP, 4.86 BB/9, 10.8 K/9, 44.2 GB%, 11.6 SwStr%)
(57.6 FB%, 28.3 SL%, 7.6 CB%, 6.6 CH%; 44.2 Swing%, 72 Contact%)

Hanson pitched seven solid innings against the Giants last time out, allowing one run on three hits while walking one and striking out seven. His strikeouts and ground balls seemed to return to their norms for the first time this season, as he induced more fly balls than ground balls while striking out seven. Hanson's fastball velocity and command continues to be the focus of his starts, and it went well against the Giants, as did the slider and curve.

Latos has yet to find his groove since returning from the disabled list, allowing three runs, five runs and three runs while going no more than 6.1 innings. His most recent was 4.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits while walking five and striking out seven. The five walks and 107 pitches led to an early night for Latos, which is rare for a pitcher as efficient as he usually is. But despite the low innings, high walks and five homers allowed, he remains a strikeout machine with a K-rate over 10.

Heath Bell remains one of the best closers in the league with five saves and one run allowed over nine innings. Mike Adams has established himself as a frontline setup man, allowing one run on two hits in 11 innings. Ernestro Frieri and Luke Gregerson have both allowed two runs on 10 hits in 10+ innings.

Projected Padres Lineup:
1. Cameron Maybin, CF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. Orlando Hudson, 2B
4. Nick Hundley, C
5. Ryan Ludwick, LF
6. Jorge Cantu, 1B
7. Chase Headley, 3B
8. Brad Hawpe, RF

It's impossible to project a Padres lineup because no one plays the same position or same spot in the order for more than one day. The Padres are desperate for offense, so they are switching players around on a daily basis. The constants are Maybin, who is starting to come around with good slugging numbers and decent on-base numbers, Hudson, who is struggling with getting on base and has shown zero power, Bartlett, who is purely a defensive player, Cantu, who has been terrible, and Hundley, who has been perhaps the best hitter on the team with a .871 OPS and three homers.

For more on the series, Braves fans check out Talking Chop and Padres fans check out Gaslamp Ball.

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