Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Game 52 Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (22-30) at Atlanta Braves (31-20)

Pitching Probables:
RHP Esmil Rogers (TOR) 1-2, 4.56 ERA
RHP Kris Medlen (ATL) 1-5, 3.16 ERA

Tonight's Starting Lineups (7:10 pm ET, SportSouth):

Blue Jays:
Melky Cabrera - LF
Jose Bautista - RF
Edwin Encarnacion - 1B
JP Arencibia - C
Colby Rasmus - CF
Maicer Izturis - 3B
Emilio Bonifacio - 2B
Munenori Kawasaki - SS
Esmil Rogers - P

Andrelton Simmons - SS
Jason Heyward - RF
Justin Upton - LF
Freddie Freeman - 1B
Brian McCann - C
Dan Uggla - 2B
Juan Francisco - 3B
BJ Upton - CF
Kris Medlen - P

Esmil Rogers and Kris Medlen have something in common. Both right-handers have made the transition from the bullpen into the starting rotation. Rogers will make his first start since 2011 tonight as the Blue Jays-Braves series shifts to Atlanta for the final two games.
Kris Medlen, split time between the bullpen and starting rotation from 2009 until the end of last July, when he was slotted into the Braves' rotation. From July 31st until the end of the regular season, Medlen went a perfect 12-0 with a 0.97 ERA. But he, like Rogers, are searching for their second win of the season heading into Wednesday's showdown at Turner Field.
After the two teams split the first two games of the series in Toronto, Braves and Jays will conclude their four-game series at Turner Field. The two teams have split their 32 all-time meetings.
Esmil Rogers (1-2, 4.56 ERA) made 67 relief appearances last season, splitting time with the Rockies and Indians before he was traded to the Blue Jays this past offseason. Rogers last start came on September 18, 2011 for the Rockies. In that outing, Rogers was lit up by the Giants offense, allowing nine runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings pitched. Jays have slowly stretched out Rogers' and has not allowed a run in his last 7 1/3 innings pitched.
Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.16 ERA) has struggled with his velocity in his last outing, but he battled through windy conditions in his last start against the Mets at Citi Field. Medlen allowed three runs on seven hits, walked a batter, and struck out nine in six innings pitched in the no decision.

Chris Johnson leading the way:
Braves have a team full of big names, but Chris Johnson leads the team with a .346 batting average. Johnson also leads the team with 15 multi-hit games this season, including six with three or more hits.
Johnson has hit safely in each of his last eight starts, and is hitting .482 (14-for-29) over his last ten games. Although Johnson has been hot, once again, Juan Francisco will start at 3B tonight.

Justin Upton day-off:
With the Braves in the middle of playing 20 games in 20 days, Fredi Gonzalez was given a scheduled day off on Tuesday, which is just the third game Upton has missed this season. Upton is back in the lineup for Wednesday in LF and will hit in the 3rd spot.

Blue Jays bats coming alive:
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista has been scorching in the month of May, hitting .382 (34-for-89), and has hit safely in 30 of his last 32 games. Bautista was hitting just .195 through May 1st, and has since raised his average to his .299.
Edwin Encarnacion has caught fire as well, hitting 12 of his 14 home runs since April 23rd, including the home run hit off Tim Hudson in Monday's game.

Side note:
Monday night marked the first meeting between brothers Colby and Cory Rasmus. Cory, who was called up by the Braves last week, made his Major League debut against the Twins. Older brother Colby got the best of Cory on Monday night, hitting a 7th inning double down the left field line. Monday marked the first matchup between brothers in the Majors since 2010 when Jered and Jeff Weaver pitched against each other.

Jordan Walden has been activated from the 15-day disabled list and in order to free up a roster spot for Walden, Braves sent Cory Rasmus back down to Triple-A Gwinnett. Fredi Gonzalez is still electing to go with a 6-man bullpen.

Braves come into play tonight with the fourth best record in the NL and lead the Nationals by 4.5 games in the NL East.

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