Series #4 Preview: Nationals vs Braves

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What a difference a good series makes when it comes to being a baseball fan. Many Nats fans were on borderline suicide watch after handily losing two out of three in the series at Cincinnati. However, today everything is fine and things appear to be heading in the right direction with the Nationals sweep of the Chicago White Sox that brought several things to be upbeat about including: the return of Adam LaRoche (and his bat!), Ramos looking like he could start the 70/30 starting Catcher split tomorrow, Soriano notching his 5th save, a dominant Drew Storen and Dan Haren making steps in the right direction.

However, Nats fans cannot relish in the sweep of the White Sox for long. Less than 24 hours after the sweep was completed the boys with the Curly W’s on their chests will face off in a three game series against the pesky Atlanta Braves. The Braves are sporting an 8-1 record after dismantling the Phillies, Cubs and Marlins and are leading the Nationals by one game for first place in the division. Since it is still only the second week of the season that lead means absolutely nothing, but both Nationals and Braves fans will have a preview of what the season will start to look like after the dust has settled and the first Braves versus Nationals series is in the books.

Intro by Neil Ruhland

Game 10: Friday, April 12, Nationals Park 7:05pm, Julio Teheran, RHP (0-0, 9.00 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler, LHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

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Signed for a large sum as an International Free Agent out of Colombia in 2007 at the age of 16, Julio Teheran has moved quickly through the Braves system and has since stagnated between AAA and extremely limited time in the Majors. His disappointing 2012 was attributed to several mechanical changes that Teheran believes he’s rectified. While only 22 and still holding on to the moniker of a “top prospect”, he has yet to make a case for his continued presence on a Major League roster. Through 31 IP at the MLB level, including 5 IP this season, he’s garnered a 5.81 ERA, 1.419 WHIP, 3.6 K/9 and a 2.00 K:BB. He had a phenomenal Spring, indicating to some that he was indeed over the issues that plagued him in 2012, only to have his first outing against the Cubs last Saturday last only 5 innings while allowing 5 earned runs on 8 hits. He’s never faced the Nats or any current National, so there aren’t any historical numbers to go on.

Teheran has a 4-Seam Fastball (4FB), Curve (CB), Change (CH) and 2-Seam Fastball (2FB) in his arsenal. The 4FB and CH are both plus pitches with the 4FB usually sitting at 92-93 but able to touch 97. Teheran’s CB is an exceptionally unreliable, below-average pitch with inconsistent movement. His 2FB is a relatively new addition that I’ve yet to see for myself.

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Detwiler comes into Friday fresh off throwing a gem of a no-decision in his season debut against the Reds last Saturday where he went six innings, only allowing an unearned run on a tidy 82 pitches. Historically against the Braves Detwiler has been decent, coming out with a 2-1 record, 3.33 ERA, 1.397 WHIP and a 1.53 K:BB and stayed true to those career averages in his five games started against the Braves in 2012. Ross has been fairly good against current Braves holding Justin Upton to a .364 OPS in 11 PA’s and Dan Uggla to a .286 OPS in 14 PA’s. With the changes to the Braves lineup, Detwiler doesn’t have quite the advantage he did in 2012 when facing a lineup that was aggregately poor against LHP’s.

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Current Braves vs. Ross Detwiler:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Jason Heyward 16 14 5 1 0 0 1 2 3 .357 .438 .429 .866
Dan Uggla 14 10 0 0 0 0 0 4 3 .000 .286 .000 .286
Reed Johnson 12 12 6 1 0 1 1 0 0 .500 .500 .833 1.333
Justin Upton 11 11 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .182 .182 .182 .364
Andrelton Simmons 7 6 2 0 0 1 3 0 0 .333 .286 .833 1.119
B.J. Upton 5 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .400 .400 .400 .800
Chris Johnson 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Luis Avilan 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Blake DeWitt 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jordan Schafer 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000
Juan Francisco 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
Total 83 70 19 3 0 2 6 9 12 .271 .358 .400 .758
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/11/2013.

Game 11: Saturday, April 13, Nationals Park 1:05pm, Tim Hudson, RHP (1-0, 3.27 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg, RHP (1-1, 4.38 ERA)

2012 wasn’t a bad year for 36-year old workhorse Tim Hudson. He threw 179 innings with a 3.62 ERA and a 3.78 FIP while notching 16 wins over 28 starts. However he did not have any success against the Nats in three starts, to the tune of 0-2, 7.71 ERA, 1.607 WHIP and 3.85 BB/9. Hudson had a rough debut against Philly on Opening Day where he only lasted 4.1 innings while throwing 90 pitches and allowing three earned runs. His most recent outing was much more to his liking where he went 6.2 innings and held the Cubs to one run on three hits while striking out seven.

After having Tommy John surgery in 2009 Hudson became a mostly sinker/breaking ball pitcher. His main pitches are a 2-Seamer that sits between 88-92, Cutter (84-88), Slider (80-82), Curve (73-78) and a Changeup (80-84). He lives off his 2-Seamer that he can paint the corners with and use to set up his secondary pitches.

Hudson for his career has held most current Nationals in check, saddling the team with a collective .693 OPS in 285 PA’s. The bright spots in the Nats lineup are Desmond with an .808 OPS in 44 PA’s and Werth with a 1.200 OPS in 40 PA’s. Ramos and Harper have been effective as well, albeit in marked fewer appearances; 11 and 10 respectively.

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Current Nationals vs. Tim Hudson:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Ryan Zimmerman 58 55 14 4 0 1 8 3 9 .255 .293 .382 .675
Ian Desmond 44 39 12 2 0 1 4 4 5 .308 .372 .436 .808
Jayson Werth 40 36 14 4 0 3 11 4 6 .389 .450 .750 1.200
Adam LaRoche 24 21 6 0 0 0 3 2 2 .286 .333 .286 .619
Danny Espinosa 22 19 4 1 0 0 0 2 7 .211 .318 .263 .581
Roger Bernadina 22 20 4 1 0 0 2 1 8 .200 .227 .250 .477
Chad Tracy 16 14 3 1 0 0 0 2 2 .214 .313 .286 .598
Wilson Ramos 11 11 4 1 0 0 2 0 0 .364 .364 .455 .818
Bryce Harper 10 9 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 .333 .400 .333 .733
Steve Lombardozzi 8 8 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .500 .750
Kurt Suzuki 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Denard Span 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Stephen Strasburg 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Zach Duke 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .333 .000 .333
Tyler Clippard 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 285 259 67 16 0 5 31 21 44 .259 .314 .378 .693
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/11/2013.

After a dominant start against the Marlins on Opening Day, Stephen Strasburg continued to not have his best stuff and on Sunday the talented Reds lineup took advantage of that fact. Six runs on nine hits and four walks on 114 pitches ended Strasburg’s day at 5.1 innings, taking the loss. Stephen has been pretty mediocre in seven careen starts against the Braves; sporting a 3-3 record with a 4.17 ERA, and a 3.14 K:BB (the lowest of any team he’s faced more than twice). 

The numbers against individual current Braves are somewhat frightening to look at, but the fact of the matter is no one has more than 20 PA’s against him so the current .906 OPS that current Braves are touting is a fairly early trend. With that noted, two people you’d prefer not to own Strasburg, Heyward and Uggla, both absolutely own him. With a combined 34 PA’s between them Heyward sports a 1.310 OPS and Uggla a 1.491 OPS. While Uggla came back down to earth somewhat in 2012 against Stras (1.021), Heyward continued his dominance going 7-10 with a HR, a 2B and 2 BB’s. Watching Stephen with a chip on his shoulder, after his outing in Cincinnati, against a lineup that is quite good against him historically should make for an interesting few hours.

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Current Braves vs. Stephen Strasburg:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Dan Uggla 20 17 8 2 0 2 8 3 6 .471 .550 .941 1.491
Jason Heyward 14 12 7 1 0 0 1 2 2 .583 .643 .667 1.310
Justin Upton 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .167 .000 .167
Chris Johnson 5 5 3 0 0 0 3 0 0 .600 .600 .600 1.200
Juan Francisco 5 5 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 .400 .400 .400 .800
Jordan Schafer 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .200 .400
Tim Hudson 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
B.J. Upton 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167
Andrelton Simmons 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 70 63 22 3 0 2 13 7 20 .349 .414 .492 .906
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/11/2013.

Game 12: Sunday, April 14, Nationals Park 1:35pm, Paul Maholm, LHP (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez, LHP (1-0, 0.82 ERA)

Part of a deadline deal in 2012, Paul Maholm was traded from the Cubs to the Braves to provide some rotation depth. He fared well for the Braves in 68.2 innings going 4-5 with a 3.54 ERA (3.76 FIP) over 11 starts. In two starts, 12.2 IP, so far this season Maholm has yet to allow a run and compiling a K:BB of 3.25 in the early going, up from his career 1.95 K:BB. Maholm is as vanilla as you can get when it comes to pitch repertoire: 4-Seam Fastball (84-88), Changeup (79-84), Curve (57-75) and Slider (78-83). The biggest addition to this set over the offseason was the addition of the ability to throw the curve slower with more consistency, now averaging 71MPH instead of the 73-74MPH previously.

There are several current Nats who take pleasure in pummeling Mr. Maholm including Werth and his .986 OPS in 29 PA’s, Desmond with a 1.300 OPS in 12 PA’s and LaRoche with an .899 OPS in 11 PA’s. The team as a whole has a .763 OPS in 111 PA’s.

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Current Nationals vs. Paul Maholm:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Jayson Werth 29 28 10 4 0 1 5 1 5 .357 .379 .607 .986
Ryan Zimmerman 22 21 7 0 0 0 1 1 3 .333 .364 .333 .697
Ian Desmond 12 10 4 1 0 1 1 2 1 .400 .500 .800 1.300
Adam LaRoche 11 9 3 1 0 0 2 2 2 .333 .455 .444 .899
Danny Espinosa 10 10 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 .100 .100 .100 .200
Chad Tracy 7 6 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 .500 .571 .500 1.071
Roger Bernadina 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333
Wilson Ramos 6 6 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333
Bryce Harper 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Zach Duke 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Steve Lombardozzi 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Total 111 103 31 6 0 2 12 7 24 .301 .345 .417 .763
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/11/2013.

After a dominating debut start against the Marlins where he held the fish to two hits in six innings on 91 pitches, Gio did not have his best stuff on Tuesday night against the White Sox where it took him 33 pitches to escape the first inning down 1-0. He ultimately got through five innings on, surprisingly, only 99 pitches, left the game with a 2-1 lead but ended up receiving a no-decision due to the back and forth nature of the later innings.

All of Gio’s career appearances against the Braves came in 2012 where he went 2-2 with a 4.57 ERA, 1.431 WHIP and a 1.71 K:BB. Against current Braves Gio has been exceptional, holding the team to an aggregate .592 OPS over 62 PA’s. More specifically he’s held Heyward to a .667 OPS (12 PA’s) and  BJ Upton to a .182 OPS (11 PA’s).

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Current Braves vs. Gio Gonzalez:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Jason Heyward 12 12 4 0 0 0 2 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Dan Uggla 11 6 1 1 0 0 1 5 2 .167 .545 .333 .879
B.J. Upton 11 11 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 .091 .091 .091 .182
Andrelton Simmons 6 4 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 .250 .500 .500 1.000
Reed Johnson 6 6 1 0 1 0 2 0 2 .167 .167 .500 .667
Gerald Laird 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .250 .000 .250
Justin Upton 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .333 .000 .333
Chris Johnson 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ramiro Pena 2 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Total 62 52 10 2 1 0 6 10 14 .192 .323 .269 .592
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/11/2013.

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