Atlanta Braves (28-23) at Milwaukee Brewers (24-27)
Who's on Tap?:
Dave Bush (1-5, 6.56 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (7-3, 2.97 ERA)
Jeff Suppan (2-4, 4.47 ERA) vs. Jo-Jo Reyes (2-2, 5.84 ERA)
Seth McClung (2-1, 3.55 ERA) vs. Jorge Campillo (1-0, 0.86 ERA)
Who Should You Watch?:
The Braves lineup is stacked this year with Chipper Jones hitting .416/.490/.674 in his first 200 plate appearances. That's absurd. It's one thing to hit .416. It's another to do while slugging .650+ and walking 27 times while striking out only 17. But there's more to the Braves than Chipper Jones. Keep your eye on Brian McCann this weekend. McCann is batting .333 this year and is also walking at an impressive clip. His success, as well as Mark Texeira's, is an important factor in Chipper's success. Don't be surprised to see Yost pitch around him this weekend. On the pitching side of things, watch out for Jo-Jo Reyes. He hasn't been as good as advertised, but shows flashes of being a future two-starter. He could really stifle the Brewers on Wednesday.
In the home plate dugout, look for Prince to have a bit of a break-out series. It's pretty clear he won't be matching his numbers from last year, but that was to be expected. At least it earns the Brewers some cash in arbitration. Prince hit the ball extremely hard the last few days and looks locked-in against right handed pitching. Corey Hart continues to roll, so don't be surprised to see him to still be the most consistent of the Brewers. And finally, Mike Cameron is putting everything together after reaching the 100 AB plateau. Now Brewers fans can get off his back for being 'terrible' all season. Sorry guys, but it's not easy to jump back on the horse as cold as Cameron was. I'm pleased with his walks this year, and the K's were to be expected. On the mound, try to catch the game on Thursday afternoon to see how Seth McClung does after his victory this past weekend.
Keys to Victory:
The Braves just need to keep doing what they've been doing, which is avoid walks and let the 3-4-5 hitters do the work. Chipper, Teixeira and McCann have combined for 98 RBIs and 26 HRs so far this year and don't look to be stopped any time soon. If the Braves can prevent the big inning this week, the should be able to handle the Brewers starters quite easily.
The Brewers need some quality pitching to come out of their starters. This is probably Dave Bush's last shot at the rotation. If he flails, don't be surprised to see yet another move by Ned Yost or perhaps even Doug Melvin with Gwynn and Hall being dangled out there as trade bait. Suppan needs to continue to do he has done all year which is rely on the double play ball and avoid the big guys from being up with runners on. It'll be hard to double up guys like Yuniel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. A big start from McClung could really motivate the Brewers and give them some confidence that they possibly have a rotation to work with after Bush gets thrown out.
Unfortunately the Brewers haven't been playing particularly good baseball lately. The upside, though, is that they're finally coming home and they seem to play well to start every home stand. As a result, I expect the Brewers to take games two and three of the series, getting a quality start from Suppan and a quality combined start between McClung on Villanueva on Thursday afternoon. Bush will lose his job in the rotation and possibly on the team since the Brewers will announce the signing of Julian Tavarez this afternoon (post physical). Look for Chipper to stay hot. He has far too much patience to get beat by questionable Brewers pitching. The bullpen continues to impress for the Brewers. Especially Tim Dillard, who should make Brewers fans happy over the next couple of months.