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Brewers Vs. Braves: Atlanta Hosts Milwaukee For Four Games In Second Matchup Of Season

The Braves got off on the wrong foot for their homestand, dropping two tough games and the series to the Cardinals. They will be looking to get back on track and return to .500 with four games against the Brewers at Turner Field.

The two teams faced off in Milwaukee for four games in the second series of the season. The Brewers took three of four in highly contested matchups, as three of the four games had a difference of one run and the other was just two runs.

The Brewers are coming off a losing series to the Astros, including a shutout loss in the final game of the series. Like the Braves, they are also one game under .500, and they are third in the NL Central.

Monday, May 2 - 7:10 (Peachtree TV/Fox Sports South)
Yovani Gallardo (36.1 IP, 5.70 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 4.13 xFIP, 3.22 BB/9, 5.7 K/9, 47.1 GB%, 6.9 SwStr%)
(56.6 FB%, 23.1 SL%, 17.3 CB%, 3 CH%; 42.9 Swing%, 83.3 Contact%)
vs.
Jair Jurrjens (22 IP, 1.23 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 3.56 xFIP, 2.05 BB/9, 5.73 K/9, 50.8 GB%, 7.7 SwStr%)
(63.2 FB%, 21.4 CH%, 15.4 SL%; 49.5 Swing%, 84.6 Contact%)

Gallardo has had two good starts out of six this season, and the one against the Braves was by far the best. He pitched a complete-game shutout on two hits, inducing 16 ground balls. Otherwise, Gallardo has struggled, giving up seven runs and six runs in two of his starts. His strikeouts are down considerably, which was noticeable even in the Braves game considering he struck out just two. His fastball velocity is down some and the pitch is getting hit hard. His contact percentage on pitches out the zone is also up considerably.

Jurrjens has been one of the hottest pitchers on the team since his return from the disabled list, allowing a total of three runs over 22 innings. His most recent outing was two runs on nine hits over nine innings against the Padres, his first complete game of his career. Jurrjens is receiving a large amount of luck from a .262 BABIP and 92.6 LOB%, but his ground ball rate is also at 50.8%, his best since 2008.

Tuesday, May 3 - 7:10 (Peachtree TV/Fox Sports South)
Marco Estrada (21 IP, 3.00 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 3.47 xFIP, 2.57 BB/9, 7.71 K/9, 43.1 GB%, 9.9 SwStr%)
(56.3 FB%, 21.7 CH%, 18.8 CB%, 3.2 CT%; 41.7 Swing%, 75.8 Contact%)
vs.
Tommy Hanson (35 IP, 2.57 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 3.02 xFIP, 2.31 BB/9, 8.74 K/9, 48.4 GB%, 9 SwStr%)
(55.4 FB%, 23 SL%, 14.4 CB%, 7.1 CH%; 43.6 Swing%, 78.5 Contact%)

Estrada won his only game so far this season against the Braves, which was his season debut. He allowed two runs on two hits over seven innings against a good Reds offense last time out, inducing 10 ground balls. Estrada is a fly ball pitcher who relies on control, but he doesn't record a ton of strikeouts. He throws an equal mix of curves and changeups, but the curve and fastball have been his best pitches so far. Even more than Jurrjens, Estrada is relying on a very low BABIP of .235 for much of his success. His FIP is a good indication of where he should end the season.

Hanson allowed three runs in 5.1 innings against the Brewers earlier this season. He pitched seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts against the Padres last time out, and combining his last two outings, he has allowed one run on seven hits in 14 innings, walking two and striking out 17. Hanson's numbers are solid across the board, recording a better strikeout rate and ground ball rate with fewer walks. He has shown better command of the fastball his last outings, which has been a big reason for his success.

Wednesday, May 4 - 7:10 (Peachtree TV/Fox Sports South)
Zack Greinke (2010: 222 IP, 4.17 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 3.60 xFIP, 2.25 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 46 GB%, 7.5 SwStr%)
(60.7 FB%, 15.5 SL%, 13 CH%, 10.7 CB%; 45.5 Swing%, 82.8 Contact%)
vs.
Tim Hudson (41.1 IP, 3.48 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 3.71 xFIP, 1.52 BB/9, 4.35 K/9, 61.2 GB%, 6.8 SwStr%)
(59.4 FB%, 17 SL%, 10.4 SF%, 4.8 CB%, 4.8 CT%, 3.7 CH%; 48.6 Swing%, 85.8 Contact%)

Greinke is making his Brewers debut after breaking a rib playing basketball over the offseason. The debut will come with much hype after Greinke was the headliner in a blockbuster deal between the Brewers and Royals this winter. The ace throws a large amount of fastballs, which last year averaged 93.5 MPH. He throws a hard, tight slider as his best secondary offering, and he adds an equal amount of changeups and curveballs.

Hudson continues to be a model of consistency, allowing two runs in six innings against the Cardinals last time out despite poor command and what appeared to be a nagging side issue. Hudson's ground ball rate continues to sit just three percentage points fewer than last year's mark, which is very good to see.

Thursday, May 5 - 7:10 (Peachtree TV/Fox Sports South)
Shaun Marcum (36.2 IP, 2.21 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 3.56 xFIP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.35 K/9, 33 GB%, 13 SwStr%)
(30.1 FB%, 29.6 CH%, 15.7 CT%, 13 CB%, 11.6 SL%; 42.4 Swing%, 68.2 Contact%)
vs.
Brandon Beachy (36.1 IP, 3.47 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 3.60 xFIP, 2.48 BB/9, 8.92 K/9, 27.7 GB%, 9.8 SwStr%)
(62.9 FB%, 17.3 SL%, 11 CB%, 8.8 CH%; 46.3 Swing%, 78 Contact%)

Marcum is having an odd season so far. He is throwing almost an equal number of fastballs and changeups, which is something you rarely see ever. But he's working with it well, seeing an increase in strikeouts and whiffs. He's also benefiting from a .250 BABIP, and his ground ball rate is extremely low. Marcum pitched seven shutout innings on three hits against the Astros last time out. He gave up two runs in six innings against the Braves earlier this season.

Beachy had a third straight solid start for the Braves last time out, allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings against the Cardinals. He has allowed just four runs with three walks and 19 strikeouts in his last 19 innings. Beachy allowed one run on four hits against the Brewers in his season debut, walking one and striking out seven.

Brewers Bullpen:
John Axford has allowed six runs in 10.1 innings as closer, though he has five saves. Kameron Loe has allowed five runs in 13.1 innings, leading the team with five holds. Sergio Mitre has allowed three runs in 10 innings with just four strikeouts. Zach Braddock has allowed two runs in 9.1 innings.

Projected Brewers Lineup:
1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
2. Carlos Gomez, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Corey Hart, RF
7. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Despite only 10 walks on the season, Weeks has a .367 OBP, and his six home runs has helped lead to a .528 SLG. Gomez's numbers saw an uptick over a recent hot streak, but he still doesn't belong at the top of any lineup. Braun, Fielder and McGehee continue to lead the offense as a strong core.

For more on the series, Braves fans check out Talking Chop and Brewers fans check out Brew Crew Ball.

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