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Braves Vs. Nationals: Tim Hudson Takes The Hill Seeking A Series Win For The Braves

The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals face off in the rubber game of the opening weekend series, beginning at 1:35 on Fox Sports South. Tim Hudson takes the hill against Jordan Zimmermann.

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. Tim Hudson, SP

Nationals Lineup:
1. Ian Desmond, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Michael Morse, LF
6. Rick Ankiel, CF
7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Ivan Rodriguez, C
9. Jordan Zimmermann, SP

Tim Hudson (228.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 3.77 xFIP, 2.91 BB/9, 5.47 K/9, 64.1 GB%, 6.8 SwStr%)
(63.8 FB%, 14.6 SL%, 6.1 CT%, 5.9 SF%, 5.5 CH%, 4.2 CB%; 45.3 Swing%, 83.9 Contact%)
Jordan Zimmermann (31 IP, 4.94 ERA, 5.85 FIP, 3.92 xFIP, 2.9 BB/9, 7.84 K/9, 48.9 GB%, 5.2 SwStr%)
(65 FB%, 20.9 CB%, 10.8 SL%, 3.3 CH%; 43 Swing%, 87.5 Contact%)

Hudson's offseason has been filled with doubters due to his 2.83 ERA last season, some of which may not have been deserved, but so much was due to a 64.1 GB%. Many will automatically look at the difference between ERA and FIP and discredit his season, but watching all of his starts may change your opinion some. One area of concern is the 228 innings he threw was his most since 2003, and at 35 years old this year, he may not have many of those type seasons again. Still, look for more top of the rotation type stuff this year.

Zimmermann's 31 innings last season should not be looked at very closely due to it being his return from Tommy John surgery. The Nationals have high hopes as Zimmermann returns to full health and a third spot in the rotation, but only time will tell how the surgery affects his command. He has always been a solid control pitcher, but he doesn't miss many bats with his stuff, and he relies on command to keep the ball in the park. Zimmermann is a fastball/slider pitcher who goes to the curve in spots, while the changeup is show-me.

Opposing Numbers:
Due to Zimmermann's short career thus far, the Braves don't have much to go on regarding past at bats. Uggla is 1-5. Chipper is 1-3 with a triple. The only other hits were a couple singles by Prado and David Ross.

Hudson has had tremendous success against the Nationals in his career, and it's evident in some of the at bat numbers. Zimmerman is 7-34. Desmond is 4-17. The bench players have not had much luck, either. Rodriguez and Werth have been thorns in Hudson's side, however. Rodriguez is 16-36 with two homers and eight RBI. Werth is 7-20 with one homer and six RBI. Worth watching if Hudson lasts that long is Matt Stairs, who is 5-6 with two doubles.

What to Look For:
Hudson's continued success against the Nationals. The Braves might need the added support from the pitching staff today against the relative unknown Zimmermann. Look for a ton of grounders if Hudson's sinker is working.

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