Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Game 125 Preview: Atlanta Braves (76-48) at New York Mets (57-66)

Pitching Probables:
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RHP Brandon Beachy (ATL) 2-0, 4.50 ERA
RHP Zack Wheeler (NYM) 5-2, 3.43 ERA

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

Braves (career vs. Wheeler):
Jason Heyward - RF (0-3, K)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (1-4, 2 BB)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (2-3, HR, RBI, 3 BB)
Evan Gattis - LF (0-3, K)
Brian McCann - C (0-2, BB, K)
Chris Johnson - 3B (1-5, BB, K)
Jordan Schafer - CF (N/A)
Paul Janish - 2B (N/A)
Brandon Beachy - P (N/A)

Mets (career vs. Beachy):
Eric Young Jr. - LF (.250/.327/.326 1 HR 15 RBI)
Daniel Murphy - 2B (.275/.307/.397 10 HR 57 RBI)
Marlon Byrd - RF (.288/.336/.523 20 HR 68 RBI)
Ike Davis - 1B (.202/.324/.318 7 HR 27 RBI)
Wilmer Flores - 3B (.282/.310/.436 1 HR 11 RBI)
Juan Lagares - CF (.258/.287/.396 4 HR 25 RBI)
Travis d'Arnaud - C (.000/.417/.000 0 HR 0 RBI)
Omar Quintanilla - SS (.229/.313/.298 2 HR 18 RBI)
Zack Wheeler - P (.182/.182/.227 0 HR 1 RBI)

The Atlanta Braves have soared to a 16-game lead in the NL East, due in part by beating up on teams within their own division.
With Sunday's win over the Nationals, their 19th in their last 22 games, the Braves improved to 28-12 against the Nats, Marlins, and Phillies. The only exception has been the Mets, who have split evenly with the Braves through 14 meetings this season. Atlanta will get the chance to change that as they open up a quick two-game series with the Mets at Citi Field.
After Saturday's 15-inning loss to the Nats, the Braves had to alter their rotation after Kris Medlen threw 47 pitches over three innings in relief. Brandon Beachy has been moved up to pitch in Medlen's spot tonight.
Beachy is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts since returning from Tommy John surgery. Since struggling in his first start back against the Rockies, the right-hander has authored three consecutive quality starts.
Mets will counter with Zack Wheeler, who is 5-2 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 starts. The Georgia native has already faced the Braves twice this season, including his Major League debut on June 18. In those two starts against his hometown team, Wheeler has allowed three earned runs on eight hits over 12 innings with seven walks and 12 strikeouts.
Wheeler racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts against the Padres while walking just one batter and surrendered one run over six innings.

Travis d'Arnaud to stay in big leagues:
After yesterday's 6-1 win over the Twins, the Mets announced that catcher Travis d'Arnaud will remain with the Major League club. He was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday after John Buck left the team to go on paternity leave. With John Buck returning to the club today, Mets optioned Anthony Recker back to Vegas.
In three games as a big leaguer, d'Arnaud is hitless in seven at-bats with five walks.

Jason Heyward stays hot at leadoff spot, Gosselin gets first two big league hits:
Outfielder Jason Heyward blasted two home runs on Saturday, including a game-tying, two-run shot in the ninth inning, continuing the tear he has been on since moving to the leadoff spot on July 27. Before going hitless in one pinch hit at-bat on Sunday, Heyward was hitting .375 with a 1.076 OPS in 20 games.
Second basemen Phil Gosselin collected his first two Major League hits in his first start on Sunday. Gosselin was called up on Friday after Tyler Pastornicky tore his ACL after colliding in right field with Jason Heyward.

Side note:
Braves 16-game lead is the largest lead thy have held since 2002, when they won the division by 19 games.
Braves are 4-3 at Citi Field this season.
Brandon Beachy makes his first start tonight at Citi Field and has only pitched against the Mets once, back in 2011.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Game 121 Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (53-66) at Atlanta Braves (73-47)

Pitching Probables:
LHP John Lannan (PHI) 3-5, 4.81 ERA
RHP Brandon Beachy (ATL) 1-0, 5.00 ERA

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

Phillies (career vs. Beachy):
Jimmy Rollins - SS (4-17, 2B)
Michael Young - 1B (0-2, BB)
Chase Utley - 2B (2-14, RBI, 2 K)
Domonic Brown - LF (2-3, K)
Darin Ruf - RF (1-3)
Cody Asche - 3B (0-2, BB, K)
John Mayberry Jr. - CF (2-6, HR, 2 RBI, K)
Carlos Ruiz - C (6-13, 3 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB)
John Lannan - P (0-1, K)

Braves (career vs. Lannan):
Jason Heyward - RF (1-11, 3 BB, K)
Justin Upton - LF (3-13, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (7-19, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. 6 K)
Evan Gattis - C (0-2)
Chris Johnson - 3B (3-6, 2B, RBI, BB, K)
Tyler Pastornicky - 2B (N/A)
BJ Upton - CF (0-2)
Paul Janish - SS (1-6, 2B)
Brandon Beachy - P (0-1)

Tonight's Braves starter Brandon Beachy knows he's still a work in progress as he takes the mound against the Phillies in his fourth start back from Tommy John surgery, fully aware he is not completely comfortable with all of his pitches.
Beachy also knows that there are better days ahead as he showed in his last start against the Marlins. He allowed just three hits in eight shutout innings to earn his first win since his return. He commanded his fastball and changeup well and still needs to improve the location of his curveball.
Taking the mound for the Phillies will be left-hander John Lannan, who unlike Beachy, struggled with his command in his first start at Nationals Park since joining the Phillies. Lannan allowed eight runs on nine hits in five innings, and walked a season-high five batters.

Phillies notes:
Cole Hamels is 3-2 with a 1.98 ERA in eight starts since the end of June. With that ERA, he ranks 10th among qualified pitchers in that span.
Phillies will play 25 of their next 35 games at home after their current road trip concludes.
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are second among active middle infielders in games played together at 1,037 games, behind the combination of Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano (1,039 games).

Braves notes:
Braves lead the Majors in comeback wins this season with 38.
In 17 games since Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez moved Jason Heyward to the leadoff spot, he's hitting .381 with 18 runs and 11 RBIs and has nine multi-hit games in that span, including two more hits in last night's 3-1 win over the Phillies.
Braves have had great success against the Phillies as of late, winning 19 of the last 29 meetings between the two clubs.
Braves are 18-4 in their last 22 games.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Game 120 Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (53-65) at Atlanta Braves (72-47)

Pitching Probables (photo credits to @D_Slemp):
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RHP Ethan Martin (PHI) 1-1, 6.75 ERA
RHP Kris Medlen (ATL) 9-10, 3.85 ERA

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

Phillies (career vs. Medlen)
Jimmy Rollins - SS (4-16, 3 2B, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K)
Michael Young - 1B (0-7, 2 BB, 3 K)
Chase Utley - 2B (4-11, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K)
Domonic Brown - LF (3-6, 3B, HR, 2 RBI)
Darin Ruf - RF (2-4, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K)
Cody Asche - 3B (0-3, RBI, K)
Casper Wells - CF (N/A)
Erik Kratz - C (2-4, 2B)
Ethan Martin - P (N/A)

Braves (career vs. Martin):
Jason Heyward - RF (2-3, 2B, RBI)
Justin Upton - LF (1-3, RBI, 2 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (1-3)
Brian McCann - C (2-3, HR, 2 RBI, K)
Chris Johnson - 3B (1-3, HR, RBI, K)
Tyler Pastornicky - 2B (N/A)
Jordan Schafer - CF (N/A)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (0-1, BB)
Kris Medlen - P (N/A)

A cavernous gap separates the Braves from the rest of the National League East. That however, did not deter the Phillies on Monday, who claimed the series opener at Turner Field behind Cole Hamels' gem and look to take the series tonight in game two of the three-game set.
Braves boast baseball's best record at 72-47, thanks in part to the recent 14-game winning streak. The Phillies sit a distant 18 1/2 games out of first place.
Tonight, the Phillies will hand the ball to young right-hander, Ethan Martin, who earned his first big league win in his last start, when he held the Cubs to one run on four hits over five solid innings pitched. Braves will counter with Kris Medlen, who has won each of his last three starts.
Last Wednesday, Medlen held the Nationals to three runs on three hits over seven innings to lead the Braves to a 6-3 victory. Medlen cited his curveball as the contributing factor to his recent success.

Uggla to the DL, Pastornicky called up:
Braves announced today that the club has placed second basemen Dan Uggla on the 15-day disabled list due to lasik surgery. The club wanted Uggla to undergo the surgery back in Spring Training. He has been in major slump of late, has two hits in his last 41 at-bats with no home runs and two RBIs. INF Tyler Pastornicky was called up in the corresponding move and will play second while Uggla is on the disabled list.

Roy Halladay close to returning:
Veteran right-hander Roy Halladay is set to make his first rehab start on Thursday with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies. General manager Ruben Amaro stated that Halladay could rejoin the rotation sometime this month, depending on how Halladay feels. Doc went 2-4 with a 8.65 ERA in seven starts before undergoing surgery on his pitching shoulder.

Side note:
Braves LF Justin Upton went 1-for-4 last night after exiting Sunday's game in the fifth inning with cramping in his left hamstring. Catcher Brian McCann also went 1-for-4 after missing two previous games due to a sore knee.
With last night's 5-1 win over the Braves, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel won his 1,000th game as a manager.
Braves are a Major League-best 40-17 at home this season.
Braves OF Jason Heyward has been red-hot since being inserted into the leadoff spot, hitting .361.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Game 119 Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (52-65) at Atlanta Braves (72-46)

Pitching Probables:
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LHP Cole Hamels (PHI) 4-13, 3.81 ERA
RHP Julio Teheran (ATL) 9-5, 2.96 ERA

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

Phillies (career vs. Teheran):
Jimmy Rollins - SS (2-3, HR, RBI, BB)
Michael Young - 1B (N/A)
Chase Utley - 2B (1-1)
Domonic Brown - LF (N/A)
Darin Ruf - RF (N/A)
Cody Asche - 3B (N/A)
John Mayberry Jr. - CF (N/A)
Carlos Ruiz - C (0-1)
Cole Hamels - P (N/A)

Braves (career vs. Hamels):
Jason Heyward - RF (5-23, 3 2B, 3 BB, 8 K)
Justin Upton - LF (6-18, HR, RBI, 5 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (8-26, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 10 K)
Brian McCann - C (16-57, 6 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 9 K)
Chris Johnson - 3B (3-8, 3 K)
Dan Uggla - 2B (9-57, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 18 K)
BJ Upton - CF (1-11, BB)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (1-3, 2B)
Julio Teheran - P (N/A)

Julio Teheran takes the mound on Monday at Turner Field with the chance to provide even further separation between the Braves and Phillies in the NL East. Teheran has no doubt been a key piece in the Braves' 14.5-game lead in the division. The 22-year-old has grown up quickly during his first full season in the Major Leagues, and the Braves couldn't be any happier.
Cracking the starting rotation out of Spring Training was not an easy task for Teheran, but the right-hander made it seem as such, going 3-1 with a 1.04 ERA in six Grapefruit League starts to earn a spot in the rotation.
However, the season began on a rough trail for Teheran, compiling a 5.08 ERA in five April starts while opponents batted .333 against him over 28 1/3 innings. Since the beginning of May, Teheran has been absolutely dominant. He posts a 2.40 ERA and 13 quality starts in 17 outings since May 9, which lowered his ERA to 2.96. He ranks third among qualified rookie MLB pitchers in ERA.
In his last start though, Teheran grabbed headlines for reasons other than his superb pitching when he hit Nationals OF Bryce Harper with a fastball in the Braves' 2-1 win on August 6. Harper was under the impression that Teheran beaned him intentionally, but the confrontation yielded no damage and Teheran escaped the inning unscathed.
Taking the mound for the struggling Phillies is left-hander Cole Hamels. After getting shutout by Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals yesterday, the Phillies have lost 11 straight road games and has not won away from Citizens Bank Park since July 19.
The Phillies' woes are in due part to their injuries. Ryan Howard (left knee inflammation) and Ben Revere (broken right foot) have been on the 15-day disabled list since July 6 and July 14, respectively. They are also without Roy Halladay, who has missed just about the entire season with right shoulder inflammation.

Charlie Manuel nearing 1,000th career win:
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel enters tonight's contest against the Braves with 999 career victories, 779 of which have come in Philadelphia. Manuel won 220 games as manager of the Indians from 2000-02. He would be the 59th manager in MLB history to eclipse the 1,000 win plateau.

Side note:
Braves OF Justin Upton left yesterday's game in the fifth inning due to cramping in his left hamstring. Upton is back in the lineup tonight and will hit second.
Braves 1B Freddie Freeman upped his RBI total to 79 with the go-ahead, three-run home run in yesterday's game, eclipsing the 76 he drove in as a rookie in 2011. His career high is 94, set last season.
Phillies middle infielders Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have started 1,036 games together, which is the second-most among active combinations behind Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano (1,041 games).

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Game 117 Preview: Miami Marlins (43-71) at Atlanta Braves (71-45)

Pitching Probables (photo credits to @D_Slemp):
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RHP Nathan Eovaldi (MIA) 2-2, 3.19 ERA
LHP Alex Wood (ATL) 2-2, 3.20 ERA

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

Marlins ('13 season stats):
Christian Yelich - LF (.300/.347/.414 1 HR 4 RBI)
Adeiny Hechavarria - SS (.239/.274/.310 2 HR 26 RBI)
Ed Lucas - 2B (.246/.314/.310 2 HR 14 RBI)
Logan Morrison - 1B (.277/.364/.445 4 HR 18 RBI)
Placido Polanco - 3B (.260/.316/.301 1 HR 20 RBI)
Justin Ruggiano - RF (.197/.276/.359 12 HR 32 RBI)
Jake Marisnick - CF (.179/.220/.250 1 HR 3 RBI)
Jeff Mathis - C (.194/.273/.285 2 HR 20 RBI)
Nathan Eovaldi - P (.063/.118/.063 0 HR 1 RBI)

Braves (career vs. Eovaldi):
Jason Heyward - RF (4-10, 3B, RBI, 3 K)
Justin Upton - LF (2-6, 2 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (2-10, 2B, 2 RBI, K)
Evan Gattis - C (N/A)
Chris Johnson - 3B (N/A)
Dan Uggla - 2B (3-7, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K)
BJ Upton - CF (N/A)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (0-2)
Alex Wood - P (N/A)

The Braves won their 14th consecutive game on Friday night, earning the chance to match the Atlanta record of 15 straight wins from April 16-May 2, 2000 against the Marlins in the second game of the three-game set. The franchise record is 18 straight wins, set by the 1891 Boston Beaneaters.
The offense especially, has come alive during the Braves' winning streak, averaging nearly six runs a game. But the pitching has been even better.
Brandon Beachy's eight scoreless innings last night helped lower the Braves' ERA to 2.08 during the streak. Lefty Alex Wood will be tasked of continuing the trend tonight as he takes the mound. Wood had perhaps his best start in his Major League career last Sunday night versus the Phillies, allowing just one run on two hits and struck out three, outpitching Cliff Lee to record his second win of his brief career.
Opposing Wood is young right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who could use some of the offense that the Braves pitchers have received this month. Marlins have failed to give Eovaldi any run support in his last four starts. Prime example is in his last start against the Indians where he only surrendered a run in seven magnificent innings. Even if Eovaldi pitches well again tonight, it is unlikely that the Marlins offense will be able to score runs. Miami offense has plated just 12 runs during their six-game losing streak.

Schafer activated from DL, Laird begins rehab assignment:
Jordan Schafer was activated from the disabled list Friday night and Jose Constanza was optioned down to Triple-A Gwinnett in a corresponding move.
Schafer had been on the DL since July 4 with a stress fracture in his foot. He hit .063 (2-for32) with two doubles in eight rehab games. While up with the big league club, Constanza hit .160 (4-for-25) with one RBI, one run scored, and five strikeouts in 14 games.
Gerald Laird began his rehab assignment for Gwinnett last night and went hitless. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on August 3, retroactive to July 26, with kidney stones.

Side note:
Justin Upton blasted a solo home run in the first inning of last night's game to extend his hit streak to 13 games. He's batting .426 (23-for-54) with six homers and 14 RBIs during the streak.
Giancarlo Stanton is hitting just .177 (3-for-17) with three runs scored and an RBI during the Marlins current road trip. Stanton is not in tonight's lineup.
Brandon Beachy won his first MLB game since returning from Tommy John surgery. His last big league win came against the Marlins on May 17, 2012.
Christian Yelich extended his career-high hitting streak to nine games with a leadoff single in the first inning of last night's game. He is hitting .405 (15-for-37) with six runs scored during the streak.
Jacob Turner gave up three home runs, all in the first inning, in last night's loss, matching the three he allowed in his previous 12 starts.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Game 116 Preview: Miami Marlins (43-70) at Atlanta Braves (70-45)

Pitching Probables:
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RHP Jacob Turner (MIA) 3-3, 2.68 ERA
RHP Brandon Beachy (ATL) 0-0, 9.00 ERA

Tonight's Starting Lineups (7:35 pm ET, FS South):

Marlins (career vs. Beachy):
Christian Yelich - LF (N/A)
Jake Marisnick - CF (N/A)
Giancarlo Stanton - RF (4-12, 3 2B, RBI, BB, K)
Logan Morrison - 1B (1-11, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K)
Ed Lucas - 3B (N/A)
Donovan Solano - 2B (N/A)
Adeiny Hechavarria - SS (N/A)
Jeff Mathis - C (N/A)
Jacob Turner - P (N/A)

Braves (career vs. Turner):
Jason Heyward - RF (0-6, K)
Justin Upton - LF (0-2, BB)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (2-6, 2B, 2 K)
Brian McCann - C (N/A)
Chris Johnson - 3B (1-3, 2B, RBI)
Dan Uggla - 2B (2-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB)
BJ Upton - CF (0-3, 2 K)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (2-3, 2B, RBI, K)
Brandon Beachy - P (N/A)

The last time Brandon Beachy saw the Marlins, on May 17 of last year, the right-hander was as good as he has ever been, striking out six Marlins en route to tossing his first complete game shutout of his career, a five-hitter at Turner Field that lowered his ERA to 1.33 eight starts into the season.
In a month's time, Beachy was prepping to have Tommy John surgery to repair the UCL in his right elbow after he exited a start against the Orioles, cutting short the makings of a potential breakout season.
Beachy will face the Marlins on Friday night in his third start since his return from the long, tedious process of rehabbing from Tommy John, looking to build on his performance in a 5-4 win over the Phillies last Saturday in which Beachy received a no decision.
After surrendering seven runs on eight hits to the Rockies in his first start back, Beachy allowed three earned runs on five hits over 6 1/3 solid innings.
Jacob Turner is the next pitcher tasked with slowing down a red-hot Braves offense that has averaged almost six runs a game during their 13-game winning streak. Turner has turned in three consecutive quality starts, but has not won a game since the All-Star break. In his prior outing against the Indians, Turner struck out six over six innings in the 4-3 loss. Like most of the starters in the Marlins rotation, Turner has fell victim to lack of run support. The offense is providing barely over three runs of support in Turner's 12 starts this season.

No ill-effects of neck injury for Heyward, Schafer update:
After leaving Tuesday's game against the Nationals with a muscle strain in his neck, the Braves outfielder was right back in the leadoff spot in Wednesday's game after waking up pain-free without the headache he developed without warning after taking the swing in which he strained his neck. Heyward finished 2-for-5, including a two-out single that drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning.
Outfielder Jordan Schafer could be activated from the disabled list as early as today. He has been sidelined since July 3 with a stress fracture in his right foot and has appeared in six Minor League rehab games with Triple-A Gwinnett. Through Wednesday's rehab start, Schafer is 2-for-23.

Season-long offensive woes continue for Marlins:
Thursday afternoon's 5-4 loss to the Pirates further underscored the Marlins' myriad struggles to score runs. After collecting just one extra-base hit out of 11 total hits in Tuesday's 4-3 loss, the Marlins went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and only had one extra base hit out of seven total hits. Although they were 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position Thursday, Miami only managed two extra-base hits out of nine total hits. They rank last in baseball in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, and OPS.

Side note:
Tonight's opener of the three-game series will be the first of 10 games the clubs will play against each other over the final two months of the season. Braves currently lead the season series, 6-3.
Braves are the only team in the NL East with a positive run differential, increasing the margin to plus-121 with Wednesday's 6-3 win over the Nationals.
Marlins OF Christian Yelich continued to swing the bat well as he extended his eight-game hitting streak with three hits in yesterday's game versus the Pirates, including hitting his first career MLB home run.

Thoughts on Brian McCann - in the words of Matt Childs (@Matiavelli)

News Photo: Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves rounds the…
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 30: Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves rounds the bases after hitting a fourth inning three run home run against the Colorado Rockies at Turner Field on July 30, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

One thing I love more than most anything in sports is when a player spends the entirety of his career in one uniform. Loyalty is easily my favorite quality in a professional athlete. Derek Jeter is, and always will be a Yankee. Craig Biggio was never seen without a star on his hat. Chipper was one of the defining faces of the Braves for two decades. While I would love for Brian McCann to stay in Atlanta for the remainder of his career, the question has to be asked, is he worth it? Without a doubt, McCann has been the best offensive catcher since he entered the league in 2005 and I feel I speak for all of Braves Country when I say I would love to sign him to an extension this offseason, but the decision to bring him back isn’t as cut and dry as most would like to believe. McCann is due for a major pay raise this winter. He will more than likely be willing to take a hometown discount, but even with that he will demand a major heap of cash and with the young, budding stars on the Braves roster, that money could be better spent elsewhere. The old saying, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” is very appropriate in this situation. While we could make McCann a Brave for life, it could mean restricting our ability to lock up players like Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, all free agents in 2016 and 2017. Of course, the money that would be spent on McCann wouldn’t come close to paying for all of those contracts, but as we are all well aware, the payroll for the Braves has been tight in recent years and every dollar matters. Evan Gattis has proven that he has the ability to hang with Major League pitching and has looked good behind the plate, not to mention his arm is better than McCann’s. There is already an issue of finding playing time for Gattis and bringing McCann back would only draw out that problem. The major question mark that would come with Gattis is his inexperience at the professional level, but Gerald Laird easily solves that issue with his veteran presence. Contrary to popular belief among Braves Fam, Laird has been a productive player when given the playing time and the argument can be made that he is a huge part of the advancement of Julio Teheran this season. The Braves are set at catcher for the foreseeable future with Gattis and Laird, so we are more than likely watching the final games for Brian McCann in a Braves uniform. Enjoy them while you can. And from all of Braves Country, thank you for the memories, B-Mac.

--Matt Childs

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Game 115 Preview: Atlanta Braves (69-45) at Washington Nationals (54-59)

Pitching Probables (photo credits to @D_Slemp):
Embedded image permalink
RHP Kris Medlen (ATL) 8-10, 3.85 ERA
RHP Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) 13-6, 3.06 ERA

Tonight's Starting Lineups (7:05 pm ET, SportSouth):

Braves (career vs. Zimmermann):
Jason Heyward - RF (2-8, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K)
Justin Upton - LF (4-10, 2 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (1-8, 2B, RBI, 3 BB, K)
Brian McCann - C (2-9, RBI, BB, 3 K)
Chris Johnson - 3B (1-5, 2B)
Dan Uggla - 2B (2-16, 2B, BB, 4 K)
BJ Upton - CF (0-5, 2 K)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (0-3)
Kris Medlen - P (N/A)

Nationals (career vs. Medlen):
Denard Span - CF (2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB)
Ryan Zimmerman - 3B (2-12, 5 K)
Bryce Harper - LF (2-10, HR, RBI, BB, 2 K)
Jayson Werth - RF (3-15, 2 2B, 3 K)
Adam LaRoche - 1B (4-14, 2 2B, RBI, BB, 3 K)
Ian Desmond - SS (4-12, 3 2B, 4 K)
Anthony Rendon - 2B (2-3)
Wilson Ramos - C (0-4)
Jordan Zimmermann - P (N/A)

Can anyone stop the Braves? NO. Atlanta won its 12th consecutive game on Tuesday, when it beat the Nationals and increased its lead in the NL East to a season-high 14 1/2 games.
Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez both pitched well in the first two games of the series against the Braves, but neither effort proved to be enough to earn a win and stop the Braves' winning streak. In Wednesday night's series finale, the Nats will turn to All-Star Jordan Zimmermann to attempt to halt the surging Braves.
Zimmermann owns a 2.97 career ERA in six career starts against Atlanta. He struggled in July, posting an ERA of 7.18 in five starts, though he righted the ship last Friday, when he threw six scoreless innings in Milwaukee to claim his 13th win of the season.
Right-hander Kris Medlen (8-10, 3.85 ERA) will try to run the Braves streak to a baker's dozen. He says he feels like he has corrected his mechanical issues that have plagued him for most of the season. Medlen has shown progress in his last two starts and hopes to continue his good work tonight as the Braves look for a fourth consecutive sweep and finish the road trip with a perfect 6-0 record.

Nationals call up Roark, option Cedeno:
Nats optioned reliever Xavier Cedeno to Triple-A Syracuse and promoted pitcher Tanner Roark to the big league club. In 33 appearances (11 starts) for Syracuse, Roark went 9-3 with a 3.15 ERA.

Injury update on Paul Maholm:
Braves SP Paul Maholm, who has compiled a 9-9 record and a 4.41 ERA in 20 starts, has been sidelined since July 20 with a bruised left wrist. The lefty completed a side session on Tuesday, as well as a 50-pitch bullpen session today, according to Braves beat writer Kevin McAlpin. Maholm also expects to throw abother bullpen session on Friday before going out on a rehab assignment.

Side note:
During their 12-game winning streak, the Braves have outscored their opponents, 71-28.
Braves OF Jason Heyward left last night's game in the first inning due to a muscle strain in his neck. Heyward was listed as day-to-day, but his back in tonight's lineup, hitting in the leadoff spot.
Justin Upton extended his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games on Tuesday.
Nats OF Jayson Werth is just six hits shy of 1,000 for his career.
Nine of the 12 games between the Braves and Nationals this season have been decided by two runs or less.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Game 114 Preview: Atlanta Braves (68-45) at Washington Nationals (54-58)

Pitching Probables (photo credits to @D_Slemp):
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RHP Julio Teheran (ATL) 8-5, 3.02 ERA
LHP Gio Gonzalez (WSH) 7-4, 3.57 ERA

Tonight's Starting Lineups (7:05 pm ET, SportSouth/MLB Network):

Braves (career vs. Gonzalez):
Jason Heyward - RF (4-18, 2 RBI, 4 K)
Justin Upton - LF (1-8, HR, RBI, 4 BB, 2 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (3-14, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 5 K)
Brian McCann - C (N/A)
Chris Johnson - 3B (5-12, 2B, 3 RBI, 4 K)
Dan Uggla - 2B (1-12, 2B, RBI, 8 BB, 6 K)
BJ Upton - CF (3-16, 2B, BB, 4 K)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (5-12, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB)
Julio Teheran - P (N/A)

Nationals (career vs Teheran):
Bryce Harper - LF (2-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB, K)
Ryan Zimmerman - 3B (0-6, K)
Jayson Werth - RF (2-6, RBI, 2 K)
Adam LaRoche - 1B (2-6, 3 BB, 2 K)
Ian Desmond - SS (4-9, 2B, 3 K)
Wilson Ramos - C (N/A)
Denard Span - CF (6-9, 2 3B, RBI, K)
Anthony Rendon - 2B (N/A)
Gio Gonzalez - P (N/A)

Sitting four games under .500 and 13.5 games back of the NL East-leading Braves, Nationals need wins in the worst way as they enter the second game of the three-game set with Atlanta.
It will be up to Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez to halt the Braves 11-game winning streak. Gonzalez, who was exonerated from the Biogenesis scandal on Monday, has compiled a 7-4 record to go with a 3.57 ERA in 22 starts this season. In his last start however, Gonzalez became the first Nationals pitcher since Jason Simontacchi in 2007 to allow 10 runs in a game. The Tigers lit up the lefty for 10 runs on 11 hits in just 3 1/3 innings.
Slated to take the ball for the Braves tonight is young right-hander Julio Teheran. Over his last three starts, all wins, Teheran has posted a 1.00 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 18 innings. He held the Rockies to a run on five hits in five innings last Thursday while tallying a career-high 11 strikeouts. Teheran wasn't as sharp has he's been for most of the season in his prior start, but battled and contained the Rockies lineup.

Jayson Werth named NL Player of the Month for July:
Nats OF Jayson Werth was named NL Player of the Month. He is the first Nats position player to win the award since the team moved to Washington in 2005. Werth slashed .367/.450/.622 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs last month.

Side note:
Braves OF Justin Upton has four homers in the month of August. He had four home runs in May, June, and July combined.
With last night's 3-2 win, the Braves notched their 34th come-from-behind-win, which leads all of Major League Baseball.
Nationals are 48-13 when they score three or more runs and 6-45 when they score two runs or fewer.
Braves 13.5-game lead in the NL East is the largest for the club since 2003. The highest lead the Braves had in that season was 15 games.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Game 113 Preview: Atlanta Braves (67-45) at Washington Nationals (54-57)

Pitching Probables:
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LHP Mike Minor (ATL) 11-5, 2.75 ERA
RHP Stephen Strasburg (WSH) 5-9, 3.04 ERA

Tonight's Starting Lineups (7:05 pm ET, SportSouth):

Braves (career vs. Strasburg):
Jason Heyward - RF (7-15, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K)
Justin Upton - LF (1-12, RBI, BB, 4 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (5-13, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K)
Brian McCann - C (6-16, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 4 K)
Chris Johnson - 3B (3-11, 3 RBI, 3 K)
Dan Uggla - 2B (11-24, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 9 K)
BJ Upton - CF (1-8, BB, 3 K)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (0-6, K)
Mike Minor - P (0-3, 2 K)

Nationals (career vs. Minor):
Bryce Harper - CF (2-8, 2B, BB)
Ian Desmond - SS (5-15, 2 2B, RBI, BB, K)
Ryan Zimmerman - 3B (4-14, RBI, 3 BB, 4 K)
Jayson Werth - RF (2-8, HR, 3 RBI, 3 K)
Adam LaRoche - 1B (1-6, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, K)
Wilson Ramos - C (3-4, HR, RBI, K)
Anthony Rendon - 2B (N/A)
Scott Hairston - LF (3-12, HR, RBI, 4 K)
Stephen Strasburg - P (2-3, RBI, BB)

The stage was set last week as soon as both the Braves and Nationals revealed their probable starting pitchers in this week's three-game series between the two in DC. With each team's three most proven starters taking the mound, the Braves could either bury the rest of the division for good or the Nationals could cut into the Braves' sizeable division lead and give themselves somewhat of a fighting chance.
After building upon a perfect seven-game homestand as well as a series sweep in Philadelphia this past weekend, the Braves, carrying a 10-game winning streak, can all, but lock up the division crown if they can stay hot against the Nationals, who are 12 1/2 games back of first place and are clawing just to get back to .500 after losing six straight after the All-Star break. Since that six-game losing the streak, the Nationals have played solid baseball, but the only problem for them is the club that they're chasing has cranked up their offense in response.
Mike Minor and Stephen Strasburg square off on Monday in the first game of the pivotal three-game set. Strasburg was inconsistent in the month of July and is looking to snap his four-start winless streak in which he has posted a 5.63 ERA and received no more than three runs of support during that span.
Meanwhile, Braves lefty Mike Minor has anchored the Braves rotation in the aftermath of Tim Hudson's season-ending ankle injury, allowing one run and no walks over 14 innings in his last two starts, both Braves' wins. Minor was in cruise control in last Wednesday's start against the Rockies, allowing only two hits in seven magnificent innings.

BJ Upton showing progress in return:
Braves CF BJ Upton went 1-for-5 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts against the Phillies on Saturday in his return from a right adductor strain. Upton racked up two more hits last night, including a single and a double, and scored a run. Upton used his time off to adjust his swing and return to the approach he exhibited in his early years with the Rays.

Cedeno called up, Ohlendorf to DL, Werth returns to lineup:
Nationals recalled left-hander Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday to take the roster spot of long reliever Ross Ohlendorf for at least another week and a half.
Ohlendorf was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to August 1 with right shoulder inflammation after making an emergency start on July 26 against the Mets in which he threw 114 pitches and saw the velocity in his fastball dip considerably.
Right fielder Jayson Werth returned to the lineup yesterday in Milwaukee after exiting Saturday's game with a minor groin injury. Werth went 2-for-3 with a run scored in Sunday's game.

Side note:
Minor's 1.01 WHIP this season ranks sixth among all qualifying starters in the Majors.
Strasburg has posted a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts at home this season with an impressive 6-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Game 112 Preview: Atlanta Braves (66-45) at Philadelphia Phillies (50-60)

Pitching Probables:
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LHP Alex Wood (ATL) 1-2, 3.51 ERA
LHP Cliff Lee (PHI) 10-4, 3.05 ERA

Tonight's Starting Lineups (8:05 pm ET, ESPN):

Braves (career vs. Lee):
Jason Heyward - RF (2-17, 3B, BB, 2 K)
Justin Upton - LF (6-14, 2 2B, BB, 3 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (6-24, BB, 9 K)
Brian McCann - C (8-23, 3 2B, RBI, BB, 5 K)
Chris Johnson - 3B (2-14, HR, 2 RBI, 3 K)
Dan Uggla - 2B (7-28, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB, 11 K)
BJ Upton - CF (8-37, 3 2B, RBI, BB, 13 K)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (1-9, 2 K)
Alex Wood - P (N/A)

Phillies (career vs. Wood):
Michael Young - 3B (N/A)
Chase Utley - 2B (N/A)
Jimmy Rollins - SS (0-2)
Darin Ruf - LF (1-1)
Delmon Young - RF (N/A)
Kevin Frandsen - 1B (0-1, RBI)
John Mayberry Jr. - CF (N/A)
Carlos Ruiz - C (0-1)
Cliff Lee - P (N/A)

Braves continue to surge away from the pack in the NL East, and they'll be going for a third consecutive series sweep when they take on the Phillies tonight in the finale of the three-game weekend series in which both teams are headed in opposite directions.
Atlanta has won nine straight and 10 of its last 11 while Philadelphia has lost four straight and 12 of its last 13. It'll be the veteran Cliff Lee taking the mound for the Phillies, who's coming off a two-week layoff due to a stiff neck against rookie Alex Wood, who is finally working into a normal starting routine in tonight's battle of left-handers.
Lee, who made his fourth All-Star team last month, has been sidelined with that stiff neck since making a start against the Mets on July 21 in which he allowed three home runs. Combined with allowing four home runs to the Nationals in the start prior to his last outing, Lee has given up seven home runs between those outings, after allowing just nine in his first 18 starts.
Wood, meanwhile, finally get into a groove, making his second straight start on normal rest. So far, the Braves have liked what they've seen out of Wood, although his work as been sporadic.
Wood had a bothersome cuticle on his left index finger in his last start against the Rockies, which led to him abandoning his curveball. After the finger was fixed before the third inning, Wood went on to retire 14 of the last 17 Rockies hitters to record his first MLB win.

Darin Ruf continues hot streak:
Phillies OF Darin Ruf ran his streak of consecutive games reaching base safely to 31 with a single in yesterday's 5-4 loss to the Braves, extending the longest active streak in the Majors.
Ruf, who scored after John Mayberry Jr's homer in the second inning, has the Phillies longest streak of reaching base safely since Chase Utley went for 33 games in late 2008 and extending into the early part of 2009. Ruf's streak dates back to last season and restarted when he was called up from Triple-A on July 6.

Chris Johnson's multi-hit streak ends, Braves streak of scoring five runs in an inning also ends:
Braves 3B Chris Johnson saw his streak of multi-hit games end at eight Saturday after going 0-for-3 with two walks. Johnson, who has 37 multi-hit games this season, had the longest streak of multi-hit games since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Johnson had gone 21-for-44 (.477) during his 11-game hit streak before going hitless yesterday.
Braves streak of scoring at least five runs in an inning also ended in yesterday's game. After scoring five runs in the fifth inning in Friday night's game, it marked the fifth straight game in which the Braves had done so, becoming only the fourth team in MLB history to accomplish said feat. The 1920 Indians, 1929 Cubs, and 2007 Tigers also scored at least five runs in an inning in five consecutive games, according to Elias.

Side note:
With the Braves taking a 5-3 lead in the season series with the Phillies, they also moved above .500 at Citizens Bank Park all-time, at 44-43.
These two clubs will meet again in 8 days to begin a three-game series down in Atlanta.
After Sunday night's game, the Phillies will have Monday off before hosting a three-game series with the Cubs on Tuesday while the Braves will continue their six-game road trip to DC to begin a three-game series with the Nationals tomorrow night, followed by their first off-day of the second half on Thursday.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Game 111 Preview: Atlanta Braves (65-45) at Philadelphia Phillies (50-59)

Pitching Probables:
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RHP Brandon Beachy (ATL) 0-0, 17.18 ERA
LHP John Lannan (PHI) 3-4, 4.10 ERA

Today's Starting Lineups (4:05 pm ET, FOX):

Braves (career vs. Lannan):
Andrelton Simmons - SS (N/A)
Justin Upton - RF (2-11, 3B, RBI, BB, 2 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (6-17, 2B, RBI, BB, 6 K)
Evan Gattis - C (N/A)
Chris Johnson - 3B (3-5, 2B, RBI, K)
Dan Uggla - 2B (9-25, HR, 3 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K)
BJ Upton - CF (N/A)
Joey Terdoslavich - LF (N/A)
Brandon Beachy - P (N/A)

Phillies (career vs. Beachy):
Jimmy Rollins - SS (3-14, 2B)
Michael Young - 1B (N/A)
Chase Utley - 2B (2-11, 2 K)
Delmon Young - RF (N/A)
Darin Ruf - LF (N/A)
Cody Asche - 3B (N/A)
John Mayberry Jr. - CF (0-3, K)
Carlos Ruiz - C (5-11, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB)
John Lannan - P (N/A)

Don't look now, but the Atlanta Braves are running away with the NL East. After playing .500 ball for much of the past two months, Atlanta entered this weekend's series against Philadelphia with an 11 1/2 game lead in the division, the largest since September 21, 2003. With their 6-4 win over the Phillies last night, the Braves have now won eight straight, and have outscored their opponents, 57-20, during the streak.
Braves have picked the absolute perfect time to get hot, as each of its next 16 games are against division rivals. With two series each against the Phillies and Nationals during that span, the Braves could all, but lock up the NL East by the end of the month.
Brandon Beachy will try to help them get one step closer to that goal on Saturday in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery. Beachy could not complete four innings in his first start back, as he struggled with command issues while allowing seven runs on eight hits, including two homers.
The Phillies meanwhile, will counter with John Lannan, who's pitching on three days rest in place of Jonathan Pettibone, who was placed on the disabled list on Friday with a strained right shoulder. Lannan has gone at least seven innings in three of his last four starts, and bolsters a 2.67 ERA in that span.
Phillies have lost 11 of their last 13 games since the All-Star break, prompting Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon to speak out. After saying he "definitely didn't come here for this," Papelbon blew a save opportunity in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Giants, which led to Phillies fans raining boos down on the Phillies closer.

Welcome back, BJ!:
Having recovered from a strained right adductor, Braves CF BJ Upton concluded his rehab assignment with a 1-for-5 effort at Triple-A Gwinnett. Upton is in the lineup today and will hit seventh while playing in center field.
Upton is hitting just .177 in 84 games this season, but after seeing his 3-for-4 performance on Thursday, Braves hitting coach Greg Walker believes BJ can return to his old self.

Maholm update:
Braves SP Paul Maholm, who has been out since July 20 with a sprained left wrist, is expected to throw a bullpen session either today or tomorrow. Barring any setbacks, the lefty should be able to go out on a rehab assignment sometime next week.

Martin, Miner join Phillies pitching staff:
With Pettibone on the disabled list, Phillies recalled Ethan Martin from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make his Major league debut last night. The club also designated JC Ramirez for assignment to make room for Zach Miner, who was also recalled from Triple-A.
Miner spent four season with the Tigers, but has not pitched in the Majors since 2009. He's bounced around the Minors since undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 27 games (12 starts), Miner posted an ERA of 3.90.

Side note:
Braves have spent a Major League-leading 123 days atop the NL East this season. They've had a lead of at least four games since May 21.
Since the opening of Citizens Bank Park in 2004, the Braves and Phillies have split their 86 meetings.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Game 110 Preview: Atlanta Braves (64-45) at Philadelphia Phillies (50-58)

Pitching Probables (photo credits to @D_Slemp):
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RHP Kris Medlen (ATL) 7-10, 3.74 ERA
RHP Ethan Martin (PHI) - making Major League debut

Tonight's Starting Lineups (7:05 pm ET, FS South):

Braves (2013 season stats)
Jason Heyward - CF (.232/.335/.388 10 HR 29 RBI)
Justin Upton - RF (.258/.350/.457 18 HR 53 RBI)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (.311/.390/.486 13 HR 71 RBI)
Brian McCann - C (.284/.371/.532 15 HR 42 RBI)
Chris Johnson - 3B (.346/.384/.471 6 HR 39 RBI)
Dan Uggla - 2B (.197/.313/.420 21 HR 51 RBI)
Joey Terdoslavich - LF (.303/.361/.394 0 HR 2 RBI)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (.252/.290/.375 11 HR 40 RBI)
Kris Medlen - P (.206/.250/.324 1 HR 2 RBI)

Phillies (career vs. Medlen):
Jimmy Rollins - SS (4-13, 3 2B, RBI, 2 BB, K)
Michael Young - 1B (0-4, 2 BB, 2 K)
Chase Utley - 2B (3-8, 2 RBI, BB, K)
Darin Ruf - LF (1-2, 2B, BB, K)
Delmon Young - RF (2-5, HR, 4 RBI, BB)
Cody Asche - 3B (N/A)
John Mayberry - CF (0-2, BB)
Eric Kratz - C (1-2, 2B)
Ethan Martin - P (N/A)

Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies thought its weekend series with the Braves would be the boot they needed to make a run in the division. Instead, the Phillies sit 13 1/2 games back in the NL East. Losers of 10 of their last 11 ballgames, Phillies will try to chip away at the Braves lead as the clubs begin a three-game series in Philly.
Ethan Martin will make his Major League debut for the Phils, hoping to beat his hometown team that he grew up rooting for. Rated as the Phillies 10th best prospect (according to MLB.com), the righty is 11-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 21 starts in the Minors this season.
Meanwhile, the Braves are red-hot, winners of seven straight as Kris Medlen takes the mound with hopes of reversing his misfortunes at Citizens Bank Park. In five appearances (three starts) in Philadelphia, Medlen's ERA is an inflated 6.05, most recently allowing six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings on July 7.
Crediting his improved mechanics during his last start against the Cardinals, Medlen snapped his three-game losing streak, allowing two runs while scattering eight hits in six innings for his seventh win of the season. Before that, he had a rough July, going 1-3 with a 7.40 ERA in four starts.

BJ's first two rehab games:
In his first rehab game, Wednesday night, Braves CF BJ Upton went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. In last night's rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett, Upton went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a single, and drove in two runs while playing only six innings. Upton is expected to play in his final rehab game tonight before joining the club in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Domonic Brown expected back next week:
While Domonic Brown missed his eighth consecutive game on Thursday due to a concussion, the Phillies left fielder plans to return to action sometime next week.
Brown sustained the concussion July 23 when he dove for a fly ball against the Cardinals. Brown has not any post-concussion syndromes and has passed every test needed to return to the field.
Brown leads the team with 24 home runs and 69 RBIs and was one of two Phillies All-Stars, alongside Cliff Lee.

Side note:
Since moving into the leadoff spot in the lineup, Braves OF Jason Heyward has gone 8-for-24 (.333) with two home runs and seven RBIs.
Phillies designated OF Steve Susdorf for assignment on Monday, but has cleared waivers and was optioned back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley yesterday.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Game 109 Preview: Colorado Rockies (51-58) at Atlanta Braves (63-45)

Pitching Probables (photo creds to @D_Slemp):
Embedded image permalink
RHP Chad Bettis (COL) - making Major League debut
RHP Julio Teheran (ATL) 7-5, 3.07 ERA

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

Rockies (2013 season stats):
Dexter Fowler - CF (.270/.369/.447 12 HR 31 RBI)
Corey Dickerson - LF (.262/.333/.429 1 HR 3 RBI)
Troy Tulowitzki - SS (.323/.385/.591 19 HR 59 RBI)
Wilin Rosario - C (.277/.310/.475 15 HR 52 RBI)
Todd Helton - 1B (.257/.326/.392 7 HR 34 RBI)
Nolan Arenado - 3B (.253/.291/.405 9 HR 35 RBI)
Charlie Blackmon - RF (.242/.266/.371 1 HR 4 RBI)
DJ LeMahieu - 2B (.270/.311/.354 1 HR 15 RBI)
Chad Bettis - P (N/A)

Braves (2013 season stats):
Jason Heyward - CF (.231/.331/.378 9 HR 27 RBI)
Justin Upton - RF (.257/.349/.442 16 HR 48 RBI)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (.309/.387/.483 13 HR 71 RBI)
Evan Gattis - LF (.255/.307/.514 15 HR 43 RBI)
Brian McCann - C (.283/.367/.534 15 HR 41 RBI)
Chris Johnson - 3B (.342/.381/.469 6 HR 37 RBI)
Dan Uggla - 2B (.199/.315/.425 21 HR 51 RBI)
Andrelton Simmons - SS (.252/.291/.376 11 HR 40 RBI)
Julio Teheran - P (.195/.233/.220 0 HR 1 RBI)

Desperate to keep their fading playoff hopes alive, Rockies will try to salvage a game in the series finale tonight against the Braves. Those hopes will hinge on Chad Bettis, who makes his Major League debut. He missed all of 2012 with a right shoulder injury. Bettis went 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 starts with Double-A Tulsa. In his final Double-A start, Bettis threw seven scoreless innings, but his debut comes against a Braves lineup that has been blistering Rockies pitching for 29 runs in the first three games of the series.
The struggling Rockies offense, which was held scoreless for the first time since July 13 in last night's loss, has to deal with red-hot Julio Teheran. His only other start against the Rockies came back in April, where he scattered eight hits, but only allowed a run for his first win of the season.
Teheran has only surrendered a run in two starts since the All-Star break, crediting his confidence on his curveball for his recent success.
Teheran's recent dominance, coupled with Mike Minor's two-hit outing on Wednesday, has assured the Braves front office that the team did not have to trade for a veteran starter to help bolster their rotation.
While the Rockies stumbled back to a season-high eight games out of first place, the Braves keep surging along and now have a commanding 11-game lead, their largest of the year, over the second place Nationals in the NL East.

Arenado heating up, torching Braves pitching:
Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado went 1-for-3 Wednesday night after homering in the first two games of the series against the Braves. His nine homers are tied for third among NL rookies and his 35 RBIs are second among rookies to Braves C/OF Evan Gattis. He also boasts 128 total bases, which is the most by any rookie this season.

BJ's goes hitless in first rehab start:
Braves CF BJ Upton finished 0-for-3 in his first rehab start last night with Triple-A Gwinnett as he recovers from a right adductor strain.
The injury has sidelined Upton for three weeks after he injured the muscle attempting to make a diving catch in the July 12 loss to the Reds. He's expected to make two more rehab starts with Gwinnett and could rejoin the big league club as soon as Saturday.
Upton has struggled mightily at the plate this season, hitting .177 with eight homer and 20 RBIs, as well as striking out 102 times in 84 games.

Side note:
Rockies' third consecutive loss to the Braves Wednesday night continued a long history of trouble against the Braves, moving Colorado to 61-107 all-time. The 61 wins against the Braves are the fewest wins against any NL team.
Evan Gattis continues to swing a hot bat for the Braves, going to 2-for-5 with a pair of singles in Wednesday's game and has hit in 11 of 14 games since being activated from the disabled list on July 14. Despite missing 24 games, Gattis still leads all Major League rookies with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs.