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Braves Vs. Angels: Atlanta Seeks Better Results In Anaheim Against The Angels

The Braves got off on the wrong foot in their West Coast trip as they lost two straight to the Diamondbacks in tough losses. They're looking to turn things around in Anaheim as they play the Angels for three games in the first interleague series of the season.

Despite the awful moves this offseason, the Angels are a respectable 22-23, only 1.5 games out of first. However, they are entering this series having lost five in a row, losing two straight to both the Athletics and Mariners.

Friday, May 20 - 10:05 (SportSouth)
Tim Hudson (62.1 IP, 3.03 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, 2.17 BB/9, 4.62 K/9, 58.7 GB%, 7.3 SwStr%)
(60.6 FB%, 15.9 SL%, 9 SF%, 5.3 CB%, 5 CT%, 4.3 CH%; 47.9 Swing%, 84.6 Contact%)
Ervin Santana (55.2 IP, 4.85 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 3.62 xFIP, 2.43 BB/9, 7.76 K/9, 35.7 GB%, 7.9 SwStr%)
(61 FB%, 37.1 SL%, 2 CH%; 43 Swing%, 81.4 Contact%)

Despite shaky control, Hudson pitched another solid game in his last start against the Phillies, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings with five walks and three strikeouts. After an abnormally high fly ball rate against the Nationals in his prior start, he went back to double digit ground balls against the Phillies. Hudson felt a pop in his hip during the outing but appears to be fine for his start.

Santana has pitched much better than his ERA indicates. His K/BB is at its best since 2008, and he has shown spurts of good ground ball ability. He was working on a no-hitter in Boston three starts ago before rain ended it in the fourth inning. Since then, he has allowed nine runs in 13 innings, including four homers. Santana relies on a deadly slider that is by far his best pitch.

Saturday, May 21 - 10:05 (SportSouth)
Tommy Hanson (53.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 2.82 xFIP, 2.35 BB/9, 9.06 K/9, 46.4 GB%, 9 SwStr%)
(55.9 FB%, 22.1 SL%, 15.1 CB%, 6.9 CH%; 43.4 Swing%, 79.1 Contact%)
Joel Pineiro (27.1 IP, 1.98 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 3.94 xFIP, 2.63 BB/9, 4.28 K/9, 56.3 GB%, 5 SwStr%)
(66 FB%, 12.4 SL%, 11.3 CB%, 10.2 CH%; 44.7 Swing%, 88.5 Contact%)

Hanson allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings against the Astros last time out, including his fifth career double digit strikeout total, which reached 10 with one walk. With apologies to Jair Jurrjens, Hanson is having the best season of the Braves starters, posting a K/BB well above his total of 3.09 last season, sitting at 3.86 right now. His ground ball rate is also up five percentage points.

Pineiro thrives on control and ground balls, posting a career BB/9 of 2.51 and GB% of 49.4%, though it has been over 50% the past three seasons. He won't have big strikeout or swinging strike numbers, but he keeps the ball in the park at a tremendous rate (8.3% HR/FB) and doesn't walk batters. Pineiro allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings against the Athletics last time out, and he has double digit ground ball numbers in all four starts.

Sunday, May 22 - 3:35 (Fox Sports South)
Derek Lowe (57.2 IP, 3.43 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 2.92 xFIP, 2.65 BB/9, 7.96 K/9, 56 GB%, 9.3 SwStr%)
(47.4 FB%, 27.7 SL%, 15.4 CH%, 9.5 CT%; 39.9 Swing%, 76.4 Contact%)
Tyler Chatwood (44 IP, 4.50 ERA, 5.49 FIP, 5.28 xFIP, 5.52 BB/9, 3.89 K/9, 46.5 GB%, 4.3 SwStr%)
(73.1 FB%, 18.7 CB%, 8.2 CH%; 41.6 Swing%, 89 Contact%)

Lowe rebounded from a five-run outing against the Nationals by allowing just one run on five hits in seven innings against the Astros, not walking any and striking out four. He had 10 fly balls, but he also had 12 ground balls while not walking any for the second time this season. Lowe's K/9 is steadily decreasing back to the norm, but if he can maintain his solid walk rate, which is at its best since joining the Braves, he will be fine.

Chatwood is going through the rookie struggles, recording a very high walk rate and very low strikeout rate with a respectable ground ball rate. He has the same number of, or more walks than strikeouts in six of eight starts, and his fWAR sits at -0.2. His last start was his worse, allowing seven runs in 2.1 innings against the Athletics in a 14-0 loss.

Angels Bullpen:
Jordan Walden leads the pen with seven saves and a 3.26 ERA. Rich Thompson has allowed six runs in 21 innings. The Angels have suffered from the loss of Francisco Rodriguez and the struggles of Fernando Rodney, but young arms have taken over somewhat.

Projected Angels Lineup:
1. Erick Aybar, SS
2. Bobby Abreu, DH
3. Maicer Izturis 2B
4. Torii Hunter, RF
5. Howie Kendrick, LF
6. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
7. Mark Trumbo, 1B
8. Jeff Mathis, C
9. Peter Bourjos, CF

For more on the series, Braves fans check out Talking Chop and Angels fans check out Halos Heaven.

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