The Padres (45-56) head straight from Chicago to Atlanta for a 4-game weekend series with the Atlanta Braves (55-47). This is the first time these two teams have met this year. In 2013, the Padres were 5-1 against Atlanta, including a sweep at home in June. The Padres have won 2 straight series for the first time all year, and are coming in with more confidence at the plate than perhaps all year. The Braves are 3-4 since the break, and are coming off of a series loss to the Marlins at home. The Padres are 10-13 this season against NL East teams.
Game 1 will feature recently called-up Jesse Hahn (5-2, 2.21 ERA) against Alex Wood (7-7, 3.24 ERA). Hahn has won 5 of his last 6 starts and pitched well against the 2 best teams in the NL West the last two times out (Giants and Dodgers). Wood is coming off of an 8-strikeout performance against the Phillies.
Game 2 has Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.31 ERA) pitching against Julio Teheran (9-6, 2.64 ERA). Despaigne pitched a no-hitter into the 8th inning last time out and has been nothing short of impressive since his arrival. The 23 year-old Teheran has struck out 17 in 14 innings in his last 2 starts.
In the third game of the series, the Padres will throw struggling Eric Stults (3-12, 5.00 ERA) and the Braves will counter with Mike Minor (3-6, 5.32 ERA). Stults’ ERA has escalated to 5.00 but he did strike out 7 last time out. Minor got roughed up by the Marlins on Tuesday, in 3 innings he allowed 6 runs on 10 hits.
In the finale, Ian Kennedy (8-9, 3.66 ERA) is slated to pitch, as is veteran Ervin Santana (9-6, 3.87 ERA). Kennedy pitched 6 solid innings against the Cubs while striking out 6, which puts him 3rd in the NL in strikeouts. Santana has been consistent most of the year, pitching at least 6 innings in 10 straight starts.
Justin Upton has clearly been the best all-around hitter for the Braves. He is leading with team with 18 HRs and 57 RBI and also leads the team with a .287 average. Evan Gattis and Freddie Freeman are not far behind in any of those categories. The Braves are not a bad hitting team, though they do carry a .245 team average and tend to strikeout a lot.
The Braves are just behind the Padres in team ERA at 3.32 and they lead the major leagues in saves with 37. That is mostly due to their All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel. The key to a series win against Atlanta is to carry over the approach at the plate from the Cubs series. The Friars will be facing higher quality pitching and will need to be patient and opportunistic, just like they were in Chicago. Whatever they did right at the plate against the Cubs needs to be done here to come out with a series win.