Much like the last series, this three-game set between the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays features two teams trending in opposite directions. Toronto took three out of four from the New York Yankees over the weekend to open up a three-game lead in the American League East. Atlanta found a way to lose Sunday to cap off a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets.
Before being shutout Sunday, the Blue Jays scored 11, 9, and 10 runs against the Yankees. Against a Braves pitching staff that has struggled mightily in recent months, this does not bode well. Toronto boasts three of the top nine home run hitters in the American League in Josh Donaldson (38), Jose Bautista (35), and Edwin Encarnacion (32). Encarnacion has been especially hot as of late, hitting .341 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in the last month. Speedy outfielder Ben Revere has been going well in recent days too, hitting .435 (10-for-23) during the past week.
The Braves, on the other hand, are in the midst of a miserable stretch. They lead the Mets 7-4 with two outs in the ninth inning and the bases empty on Sunday. Three batters, later, Daniel Murphy tied the game with a three-run homer. New York scored three more runs with two outs in the tenth inning, to win 10-7. Atlanta has lost what is believed to be a franchise record 12 straight games at Turner Field. On a brighter note, Andrelton Simmons is hitting .375 (9-for-24) over the last week, and Michael Bourn has reversed some of his bad luck, batting .333 (7-for-21) over that same time.
In the opener, the Braves will send Julio Teheran to the mound, looking to snap the terrible home losing streak. Teheran has been great at Turner Field this season, posting a 7-2 record with a 3.24 ERA. Veteran lefty Mark Buehrle takes to the hill for Toronto. He has been his normal, steady self all season, but was roughed up in his last start. Buehrle lasted just 3.1 innings while giving up five runs to the Red Sox. He has a 6.46 ERA in his last three starts.
Shelby Miller has now lost 21 starts in a row (it's becoming hard to keep count). His road to a win will not get any easier Wednesday when he faces off against midseason acquisition David Price. Miller has an outstanding 2.86 ERA this season, and an even better 2.35 ERA at home this year. Price is 6-1 with a 2.28 ERA since coming over from Detroit. As good as he has been, Miller has blown a few leads in recent starts. Any edge he gets with Price on the opposite hill he needs to capitalize on.
Sometimes it is just your year. Marco Estrada is proof of that for the Blue Jays. Estrada was traded to Toronto at the conclusion of last season, and has already flown by his previous career-high in wins with 12. He won seven games in 2013 and 2014 for the Brewers in a spot-starting role, but has excelled as a full time starter in Toronto. Matt Wisler will take to the mound for Atlanta, looking to build off a positive start his last time out against the Mets, when he gave up two runs in six innings. A brief bullpen stint seemed to clear his head and allow him to regain his aggression, as teammates and coaches raved about his improvement in his changed demeanor on the mound.
Tuesday, September 15, 7:10 p.m. ET
ATL: Julio Teheran
2015: 29 starts, 10-7 W-L, 4.38 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 3.2 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
TOR: Mark Buehrle
2015: 27 starts, 14-7 W-L, 3.72 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 1.4 BB/9, 4.1 K/9
Wednesday, September 16, 7:10 p.m. ET
ATL: Shelby Miller
2015: 29 starts, 5-14 W-L, 2.86 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 3.1 BB/9, 7.7 K/9
TOR: David Price
2015: 29 starts (with DET & TOR), 15-5 W-L, 2.46 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 1.9 BB/9, 9.1 K/9
Thursday, September 17, 7:10 p.m. ET
ATL: Matt Wisler
2015: 16 games (15 starts), 5-7 W-L, 5.60 ERA, 5.16 FIP, 3.8 BB/9, 6.0 K/9
TOR: Marco Estrada
2015: 30 games (24 starts), 12-8 W-L, 3.31 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 2.9 BB/9, 6.7 K/9