Chipper Jones (Photo: Samara Pearlstein)

Having swept the Miami Marlins out of Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox (36-33) welcome the Atlanta Braves (37-32) back to their true home of Boston. The Braves are in third place in the National League East, four games behind the Washington Nationals, while the Red Sox finally made their way out of the cellar of the American League East. The Red Sox are on the rise, having won 7 of their last 10 games. The Braves are 3-7 over their last 10, but they did take two of three against the New York Yankees. Thanks, Braves!

 

STARTING PITCHERSJair Jurrjens, Randall Delgado and Mike Minor

Jair Jurrjens (facing Jon Lester in the opener) is making his first start after being sent down to AAA. Jurrjens hasn’t been the same pitcher since he injured his knee in 2011. His fastball, once in the 91-92 MPH range, now sits at 88. Jurrjens was 3-4 with a 5.18 ERA and a 4.47 FIP at AAA Gwinnett. His AAA stats of 4.71 K/9, 2.20 BB/9, .286 batting average against and 1.43 WHIP do not impress. Song of the Day for the Red Sox: “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits.

Randall Delgado (against Franklin Morales on Saturday night) has “Young Pitcher-itis” – he tries to strike everyone out (7.28/9) and ends up walking too many (4.48/9) to be an excellent pitcher. Delgado’s .224 batting average against should yield better results but the walks negate that. Delgado’s .265 BABIP may indicate a touch of good luck, but Delgado negates that good luck with bases on balls. Song of the Day for the Red Sox: “Patience” by Guns ‘N Roses

Mike Minor (versus Clay Buchholz in Sunday afternoon’s finale) is a fly ball pitcher, and that hasn’t brought him success. Although Minor’s SIERA has always been much lower than his era (this year Minor’s SIERA is 4.09 while his ERA is 6.04), 15 homers in 13 starts and an anemic 34.7% ground ball rate gets Minor into trouble. Song of the Day for the Red Sox: “Up In The Air” (from the film) by Kevin Renick.

EXPECTED LINEUP

1. Michael Bourn, CF
2. Martin Prado, LF
3. Brian McCann, C
4. Dan Uggla, 2B
5. Freddie Freeman, 1B
6. Chipper Jones, 3B
7. Jason Heyward, RF
8. Andrelton Simmons, SS
9. Eric Hinske, DH

WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT

In the last two weeks, Jason Heyward (.342/.375/.658, .441 wOBA, 184 wRC+), Michael Bourn (.333/.358/.451, .355 wOBA, 126 wRC+) and Andrelton Simmons (.317/.364/.488, .370 wOBA, 135 wRC+) are hitting very well. David Ross (.400/.438/.600, .447 wOBA, 188 wRC+) is also hitting very well in limited action. However, Eric Hinske (.067/.067/.067, .059, -77 (!) wRC+), Chipper Jones (.179/.281/.214, .236 wOBA, 44 wRC+) and Freddie Freeman (.200/.231/.360, .256 wOBA, 57 wRC+) need get it going again. Chipper Jones is making his final visit to Fenway Park in this series, as he is retiring after the season. Here’s to a great career!

In the bullpen, it’s Craig Kimbrel‘s world and we all just live in it. He’s putting up video game on rookie setting numbers in 2012: 20 saves with only one blown save, 43 Ks and 10 walks in 26 IP, 1.38 ERA/0.90 FIP/1.62 xFIP, a 1.39 SIERA, an ERA- of 35 (league average is 100, so 65% better than league average), and an FIP- of an incredible 25 (again, league average is 100, so 75% (!) better than league average). And his fastball is getting faster (95 in 2010, 96 in 2011, 97 in 2012). Sick.

INJURIES

RHP Brandon Beachy (Tommy John surgery) and RHP Arodys Vizcaino (Tommy John surgery) are out for the season. RHP Peter Moylan (labrum and rotator cuff tears) is on the 60-day DL. LHP Robert Fish (left elbow tendinitis) is on the 15-day DL.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?

David Ortiz (.342/.447/.816, .502 wOBA, 221 wRC+) has been red hot in the past two weeks, and Papi is joined by Daniel Nava (.476/.500/.571, .478 wOBA, 204 wRC+) and Will Middlebrooks (.333/.387/.593, .412 wOBA, 158 wRC+) on the hot list. However, trailing the pack again is Kevin Youkilis (.143/.250/.214, .221 wOBA, 28 wRC+), Dustin Pedroia (.191/.240/.255, .213 wOBA, 22 wRC+) and Adrian Gonzalez (.171//.265/.268, .242 wOBA, 42 wRC+). Time to step it up, you three!

On the mound, Jon Lester pitched very well bit had a touch of bad luck, with stats of 3.95 ERA/2.17 FIP/2.07 xFIP, 11.20 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9 and a BABIP of .343. Felix Doubront also found some bad luck in the past fortnight, despite a 2-1 record, with numbers of 6.35 ERA/3.82 FIP/3.13 xFIP, 10.06 K/9, 1.59 BB/9 and a BABIP of .362. In the pen, Vicente Padilla (0.00 ERA/0.39 FIP/1.83 xFIP), Scott Atchison (0.00 ERA/2.15 FIP/3.45 xFIP) and Mark Melancon (0.00 ERA/3.65 FIP/4.52 xFIP) continued holding the Blutarsky ERA Award.

SUMMARY

At 37-32 and only four games out of first, the Braves are not out of the running in the National League East. However, the Atlanta Braves need better starting pitching to keep up with the Washington Nationals. This is the first time in the history of mankind that that combination of words have been used together in one sentence in a serious manner.

Categories: Adrian Gonzalez Andrelton Simmons Arodys Vizcaino Atlanta Braves Boston Red Sox Brandon Beachy Brian McCann Chipper Jones Clay Buchholz Craig Kimbrel Dan Uggla Daniel Nava David Ortiz David Ross Dustin Pedroia Eric Hinske Felix Doubront Franklin Morales Freddie Freeman Jair Jurrjens Jason Heyward Jon Lester Kevin Youkilis Mark Melancon Martin Prado Miami Marlins Michael Bourn Mike Minor New York Yankees Peter Moylan Randall Delgado Robert Fish Scott Atchison Vicente Padilla Washington Nationals Will Middlebrooks

Scott Candage is a long-time Red Sox fan. He recently came in third in the 127th annual Upperclass Twit of the Year competition. His best friend is a tree and he is a stockbroker in his spare time.

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