Minor and Strasburg will attempt to stick around longer this time
On the way to recording their timeliest win of season, the Braves watched Gavin Floyd dominate and then make an abrupt exit because of what proved to be a fractured right elbow. It seems nothing has come easy for the Atlanta bunch this season. Well, unless you account for those days they’ve had a chance to play the Nationals.
With Thursday night’s series opening win, the Braves improved to 19-7 against the Nationals dating back to the start of the 2013 season. Accounting for the fact that they notched two of their seven wins with a doubleheader sweep in September, the Nationals have proven victorious during just six of the 25 days they have been pitted against the Braves during this span. That’s nearly a month’s worth of futility.
Now, the Nationals will spend the next two nights challenged by Atlanta’s two most talented starting pitchers — Mike Minor and Julio Teheran. With the always erratic Ervin Santana set to start Sunday, the Braves have to hope to win at least one of these next two nights, when the Nationals are set to start Stephen Strasburg and then Doug Fister.
Minor has allowed a career-high 11 hits in his past two starts and three times in nine starts this season. Now that he has spent the past 10 days falling victim to Coors Field and a potent Angels lineup that only mustered three runs against him, the quietly confident southpaw is looking forward to another chance to emerge victorious in an underdog role.
Minor has never thought that he should have taken ahead of Strasburg (the top overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft). But when he opposes him tonight, he will attempt to thrive off the motivation created by the fact that he was taken six picks after Strasburg.
Of course the last time we got excited about a Minor-Strasburg matchup, neither got through two innings. Minor walked four and surrendered four hits, while notching just five outs during that wacky Aug. 17 evening. Strasburg surrendered a leadoff home run to Jason Heyward and then hit Justin Upton in the first inning, likely in retaliation to Bryce Harper getting hit twice the night before and three times by the Braves during the month of August. Strasburg was ejected after he threw three consecutive pitches behind Andrelton Simmons in the second inning.
This event simply added to the many oddities Strasburg has experienced in the process of lasting fewer than five innings in five of his 13 career starts against the Braves. He has exited before the end of the fifth in just nine of his other 77 career starts.
With Floyd now on the disabled list, the Braves have recalled left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter to provide bullpen depth for the next few days. The Braves will now have to decide whether to bring Alex Wood up to start a game during next week’s series in Houston or wait until he would be needed to account for the June 28 doubleheader in Philadelphia. Either way you cut it, it looks like they might have to promote one of Gwinnett’s starting pitchers (Gus Schlosser is on the 40-man) to serve as the 26th roster member for that doubleheader.
FREDDIE FREEMAN It looks like Freddie Freeman has regained his productive form. Freeman enters Friday night’s contest with six doubles and a triple in his past 25 at-bats. Freeman entered Saturday with just two extra-base hits (both home runs) in the 48 at-bats he had compiled this month.