Saturday, September 6, 2008

Scouting Report: Nationals at Braves (9/6)

The Nationals try to avoid a third-straight loss to the previously free-falling Atlanta Braves. Hey--look on the bright side. This is how we can both win the Strasburg Sweepstakes and have some fun messing with the NL East race: get killed by the terrible Braves!

Here's my take on game three of the series. (For more on Atlanta's offense, check out my preview of game one.)

Pitching Match-Up
Mike Hampton: Finally back after missing two seasons following two separate elbow surgeries and a pectoral injury suffered while warming up for his first start back in April, Hampton is well known but not very good. Atlanta can't be hoping for anything more than a bit below league-average innings from him.

He's always been a groundball pitcher (53% so far this year, which is excellent and compares favorably with his best seasons) who allows a lot of base-runners, walks more than you'd like, and doesn't strike out many at all. Compared to his best years, he's walking about the same (BB% this year is 10.0%, compared to 10.3% in 1999 and 8% league average), but his strikeout rate has fallen from "good but not great" (18.1% at his very best) to "really quite bad" (9.5% this year).

He was hit hard in two of his first four starts, but he's done better over his last four starts, compiling a 3.81 ERA over 26 innings.

He throws only 43% fastballs, which is one of the lowest rates in the league. He also throws a cutter, change, and a rare curve.

Tim Redding: Redding's impeccable averageness has begun to average out, as a bad stretch of starts in August, which saw his ERA jump from 3.98 to 4.66, has given way to a run of better starts. Look for him to continue his average ways and apply his fastball, slider, curveball, change repertoire to produce around 6 innings and 3 runs or so.

Fearless Prediction
(Season record: 22-15)
Nationals, 6-4.

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