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Marlins Vs. Braves: Tommy Hanson Looks To Get On Track In Series Opener With Marlins

The Braves kick off a three-game series with the Marlins in Atlanta with a matchup between Chris Volstad and Tommy Hanson. Game time is 7:10 on Fox Sports South.

Marlins Lineup:

1. Chris Coghlan, CF

2. Omar Infante, 2B

3. Hanley Ramirez, SS

4. Mike Stanton, RF

5. Gaby Sanchez, 1B

6. Logan Morrison, LF

7. John Buck, C

8. Greg Dobbs, 3B

9. Chris Volstad, SP

Braves Lineup:

1. Martin Prado, LF

2. Nate McLouth, CF

3. Chipper Jones, 3B

4. Brian McCann, C

5. Dan Uggla, 2B

6. Jason Heyward, RF

7. Alex Gonzalez, SS

8. Freddie Freeman, 1B

9. Tommy Hanson, SP

Chris Volstad (2010: 175 IP, 4.58 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 4.43 xFIP, 3.09 BB/9, 5.25 K/9, 47.9 GB%, 5.7 SwStr%)
(59.7 FB%, 14.4 SL%, 13.6 CH%, 12.4 CB%; 43.4 Swing%, 86.4 Contact%)
Tommy Hanson (2011: 9 IP, 6.00 ERA, 6.58 FIP, 5.58 xFIP, 3 BB/9, 3 K/9, 36.4 GB%, 5.7 SwStr%)
(53.8 FB%, 21.2 SL%, 19.9 CB%, 5.1 CH%; 43.9 Swing%, 86.8 Contact%)

Chris Volstad is a 6'8 sinkerballer who has yet to really put it together for the Marlins. After a great debut in 2008 that included a 2.88 ERA and 3.82 FIP in 84.1 innings, he responded with an ERA over five in 2009 and numbers in the mid-fours in 2010. Volstad's ground ball rate has steadily dropped since '08, probably because of a steady decrease in sinkers thrown while he has thrown more changeups. It hasn't helped his strikeout totals, and for a pitcher who relies on getting grounders, it doesn't make sense. In his first start this season, Volstad allowed one run on four hits in five innings, but he walked four. He upped his slider count while keeping the fastball total similar.

Tommy Hanson's second start went only slightly better than the nightmarish first one, allowing three runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings, walking one and striking out two. Neither side of Hanson has showed up so far; the ground ball side has a 36% rate, while the strikeout side has three punch outs in nine innings. Hanson's stuff has remained flat and up, and his fastball velocity and usage is down. He is relying on his secondary and show-me stuff to get by, which is a recipe for disaster.

Opposing Numbers:

The Braves have not had much individual success against Chris Volstad. Brian McCann and Chipper Jones have a combined three hits in 24 plate appearances. Martin Prado is 3-11 and Alex Gonzalez is 1-5. However, Jason Heyward is 2-6 with a homer.

Tommy Hanson has fared well against the Marlins in his career. Chris Coghlan is 1-12, while Hanley Ramirez and Gaby Sanchez have a combined seven hits in 25 plate appearances. Logan Morrison is 1-6 with a homer. Mike Stanton is 2-6.

What to Look For:

Until Hanson gets on track, his performances should be the key to each game he pitches. His stuff hasn't been anywhere near what it has been in the past, but it has also been only two starts. Watch to see where he is at tonight in that department.

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