Undefeated since yesterday! And something tells me Jason Bergmann's gonna pitch tonight! Woot!
Check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on the Atlanta hitters and bullpen. Here's my look at the Braves' starter for game 2 and prediction.
On the Mound
Kenshin Kawakami is a soft-tossing junkballer who throws a big looping curve, a cutter, and a slow, 89-90 mph fastball. According to pitch FX he's also throwing a splitter. Right-handed pitchers usually can't get by living under 90, so if Kawakami doesn't have another gear, the Braves might have a problem.
In Japan he had very good command but low strikeout rates. In two starts, however, he's struck out 11.25 per 9 and walking 5.25 per 9. That's only a 12 inning sample size, though, and watching his start against the Nationals, I don't expect him to keep missing bats. To be successful he needs to pitch to contact and avoid the walks.
Season record: 8-4
Easily my worst prediction of the year was guessing that the Nationals would lose to Joe Blanton in Martis's last start. Shame on me. What was I thinking?
Anyway, Martis is showing much improved command, but he's not striking anyone out, having whiffed only 2 of the 40 batters he's faced so far. It's hard to know what to make of his relative success so far, since his peripheral stats are so unlike his strengths in the past. And his success hasn't actually been all that successful.
Still, the Braves are really scuffling as a team right now, having lost 6 of 7, including 3 losses to the Pirates and one to the Scats last night. Johnson, Kotchman, and Schafer are all slumping, and David Ross is a far cry from Brian McCann. Escobar and Chipper haven't really gotten it going since missing some time with minor injuries. Our guys might be catching them at the right time.
For the third time this year (I haven't been right yet...) I'm picking a Nationals victory--a close one, something like 6-5. Look for Dunn to go deep, and probably Chipper too.