Yay! Going for the sweep! It's been so long, I can't even remember what it's like to lose!
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 3 and prediction.
On the Mound
Jair Jurrjens: I gotta say before we get into this that it's pretty lame how much we pay the teams in our own division early on. I know with inter-league and the three-division set-up that this is probably inevitable, but we've already seen Kawakami, Lowe, Volstad, Nolasco, Josh Johnson, and now Jair Jurrjens twice. There's a whole big league full of pitchers who would be fun and interesting to compete against, doncha think?
Anyway, Jurrjens is a fastball-slider-change pitcher with big groundball rates and big troubles with lefties. He's off to a really nice start, shutting down the Phillies, Nationals, and Pirates en route to a 2.04 ERA through 17.2 innings. He's struggled with command, however, walking 10. He's floating on a .246 BABIP, and his fielding independent ERA is up at 3.82, still respectable but not at all dominant.
One other thing to watch--he threw 120 pitches in his last start, the most he's ever been asked to throw in a game. It's common for guys to struggle with command after a particularly long start. Since he's been wild to begin with, Jurrjens could get knocked out early if he's feeling the after-effects of his last start.
Season record: 10-4
If you had told me three weeks ago that John Lannan would have 12 Ks and 4 walks through his first 15.1 innings of the season, I'd have thought, "wow, maybe Lannan has another level after all!" I never would have guessed that those numbers would correspond with a 6.46 ERA. The reality is that Lannan has one awful start, one ok start, and last time out he had a really dynamite start against the red hot Marlins, going 6.1, allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk against 8 Ks.
Meanwhile, the Braves are really in a skid now, having lost 7 of 8 and are suddenly staring a series sweep in the face at the hands of the Scats. Their bullpen is soft, and their bats are ice cold.
Why can't the Nationals win three in a row? The match-ups favor us, and we might even be gaining some confidence. I say they can and will. Lannan goes 6 strong, while Jurrjens lays an egg. Nationals win going away, 7-2.