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Game No. 33 Preview: Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves

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Houston opens quick two-game set against Former Playoff Nemesis

Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros
Charlie Morton takes the mound against ageless wonder Bartolo Colon at 7:10 CT
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston Astros (21-11) vs. Atlanta Braves (11-18), May 9th, 2017, 7:10 PM CDT

TV: ROOTSW

Radio: KBME 790 AM, La Nueva 94.1 FM

Online: MLB.TV

Braves SBNation Blog: Talking Chop

Pitching Matchup

RHP Charlie Morton (3.97 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 3.16 xFIP, 10.32 K/9, 2.65 BB/9, .344 BABIP, 1.32 WHIP) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (6.27 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 4.63 xFIP, 6.27 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, .324 BABIP, 1.42 WHIP)

Preview

It would be all too easy to write the Braves off in this two game series as simply the bad team that they are, and “mail it in”, if you will.

That’s how a team gets beaten 5-1 on two hits allowed by a bad team.

Here’s hoping the Astros come ready to pour it on early and often in this game. Even considering the diminished force projection Atlanta has as a team these days, they do still have several very talented players...led by one of the best first basemen on the planet, Freddie Freeman, and an also-red-hot veteran presence in Matt Kemp, who has a nine game hitting streak coming into play and has reached base safely in twelve straight games.

Besides Freeman (208 wRC+) and Kemp (161 wRC+), the Braves also have strong early offensive production from both Chase d’Arnaud (148 wRC+) and catcher Tyler Flowers (143 wRC+) and a reasonably adept, experienced offensive core surrounding them which includes the likes of Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, and Brandon Phillips along with talented but struggling younger players like Jace Peterson, Adonis Garcia, and Dansby Swanson.

The real problem for Atlanta has been their pitching, which is bad. There’s no other real way to put it. The bullpen in particular has been atrocious, but there are some positive indicators to be seen. Jim Johnson, for instance, has been used 13% of the time and would be best considered the “closer” for the team. His 3.75 ERA looks mediocre on paper, but he’s struck out better than 30% of the hitters he’s seen and sports a nifty 1.25 FIP and 2.08 xFIP...it would seem he’s had a fair amount of bad luck, as his BABIP against is sitting at .355 currently. Arodys Vizcaino, the only reliever in Atlanta’s pen who can match Johnson’s 13% usage, also sports a rather uninspiring ERA (3.65) and has a 4.78 FIP, but he does own a 3.10 xFIP and a K% that slightly exceeds Johnson’s - both men strike out slightly better than 30% of opposing hitters.

So one cannot assume that the Braves are complete pushovers - these are proud Major League Baseball Players who are coming off a shellacking at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals and looking to get back into the win column in a big way.

FanGraphs Team Pages

Atlanta Braves

Houston Astros

Starting Lineups

Houston:

Atlanta:

Of Note: