After last night’s 1-0 edging of the Padres, the Braves are 3-3 against them on the year. This afternoon’s series finale will not only determine the results of this series, but also the season series with San Diego and season run differential between the two teams (the Braves have a 27-26 run differential against the Padres right now).
The Braves activated Julio Teheran from the Disabled List yesterday, and will hope that today’s start goes better for him than his last start, which also came against the Padres and sent him to the Disabled List in the first place. Teheran was lit up in that outing, allowing four runs on three homers in four innings, along with a paltry 3/2 BB/K ratio. It was his second-worst start of the year (he was creamed for five runs without escaping the third in his second start of the season by the Nationals) and ballooned his pitching triple slash to 4.31 / 5.59 / 5.08.
While Teheran was placed on the Disabled List with a thumb contusion, he was once again showing some very worrying signs. His fastball averaged around 88 mph in the game, two mph slower than the aggregate average across previous outings. (His other pitches, sans his changeup, evidenced a similar velocity decline.) He could not locate at all, posting his lowest zone percentage and first strike percentage of the year, while eliciting fewer swings at balls and suffering more swings at strikes, and allowing more contact on all swings. In some ways, this could be read as “there’s nowhere to go but up,” but I’m in more of a wait-and-see mode. If Teheran can’t survive against the same lineup shut down by Anibal Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy, and Sean Newcomb earlier in this series, the Braves may have a sizable decision about the rotation’s future on their hands.
Much like the series finale earlier this month in San Diego, the Padres will once again deploy a bullpen game. That stratagem worked out well for them two weeks ago, as the combined effort kept the Braves to just a single run off of game starter Matt Strahm (also starting today) and led to a 3-1 loss for Atlanta. In that outing, Strahm went two and a third, Jose Castillo went one and two thirds, Adam Cimber pitched an inning, and then Kirby Yates and Brad Hand finished the game with two innings each. With Kirby Yates being the only reliever used by the Padres yesterday, they have a well-rested bullpen. None of their relievers have worked twice in the past three days, and Castillo is the only one to have pitched multiple innings or thrown more than 15 pitches earlier in this series. So, expect to see the full complement of their quality bullpen as necessary, with Phil Hughes available to soak up innings if something goes wrong.
The Braves should again hope to jump all over Strahm early, because if they don’t, they might struggle to score runs with no times through the order advantage. Aside from Hughes and Strahm, the remainder of the current San Diego bullpen has xFIP-s of 77 or lower. Yikes (for the Braves).
San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves
June 17, 2018
1:35 pm EDT
SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports South, mlb.tv
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM, WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network