The Miami Marlins will test their recent hot play against familiar division foe in the Atlanta Braves To preview the series between the Marlins and Braves, I had an email chat with Chris Headrick, a co-editor for the Atlanta Braves Fansided Site, Tomahawk Take. TT does a phenomenal job of covering the Braves and despite their terrible taste in their professional baseball team, they are actually decent people.
As part of the chat, I answered some questions for Chris as well, you can find them here.
Without any further ado, here is my chat with Chris:
Ehsan Kassim: Does Brian McCann figure to be in the Braves future beyond this future?
Chris Headrick: Brian won’t be going anywhere this year, but while I don’t like it, I believe that Brian will not be in a Braves’ uniform in 2014. While he needs some seasoning behind the plate, Evan Gattis has more than proven himself offensively, and I think he is primed to replace the older veteran. I believe the Braves will make McCann a qualifying offer in order to earn an extra draft pick in 2014. With the amount the Braves paid for B.J. Upton, and the low return on that investment, Atlanta will be trying to free some of that money up for other more pressing needs.
EK: Both the Marlins and Braves are different teams from when the Braves swept the Marlins back in April. Are the Braves a better team now than they were in April? Why?
CH: No, the Braves are not a better team than they were in April, but in many ways they are slowly becoming a different team. The setbacks of losing Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty hurt the bullpen, but they have adjusted. The obvious slumps of B.J. Upton, and to a lesser degree Dan Uggla, that were perhaps not so clearly evident in April, have become crystal clear, but both players are making progress in coming out of that mire, and the team has adjusted to that with other player stepping up. With the problems that Tim Hudson has had, it’s been great to see the way Mike Minor and Julio Teheran have stepped up their game from the mound. We are not a better team, per se, but we are a different, and evolving team.
EK: Looking back, do you feel the Braves regret the Dan Uggla trade and extension from three years ago?
CH: No, I don’t really think so. I know that there are many fans calling for Dan’s head to be on the block, but Uggla is the kind of player that is always a threat with the bat, and has adequate defensive capabilities. Dan’s leadership off the field are one of those intangibles that a team values, and despite his low BA, he has a remarkably high OBP in spite of his struggles, and walks a lot. He contributes even when he doesn’t seem to be, and the recent addition of a new set of contacts for Dan seems to be working. His BA is slowly increasing.
EK: What has been the most surprising thing for the Braves in 2013?
CH: Well, I hate to sound like another billboard for the mighty El Oso Blanco, but I’d be remiss if I said anything other than Evan Gattis. He wasn’t even expected to make it past spring training when he got the invite, but the numbers he’s put up, and the way he has blended so well into this team, have been a pleasant surprise. He just seems like he’s always been an Atlanta Brave.
EK: Can you give us a quick scouting report of the pitchers the Marlins will be facing this series?
CH: Game 1 Probable: Kris Medlen (5-7, 3.02 ERA, 1.26 WHIP). Kris has had problems with run support, so his win-loss record is a bit deceiving. He hasn’t put up the amazing numbers we saw in the latter half of last year, but he’s been solid. Although having some issues with fastball command, even that has been coming around nicely of late.
Game 2 Probable: Mike Minor (8-3, 2.98 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). Mike has been the Brave’s most solid starter this year. Even with a few hiccups in his last couple of starts, Minor has been amazing at his ability to get hitters to chase his breaking balls thrown down and away. He will look to regain that same kind of command that was absent just recently.
Game 3 Probable: Julio Teheran (6-4, 3.12 ERA, 1.19 WHIP). Julio had some rough outings early this season, but his progress has been exciting to watch, and he’s been literally getting better with each outing. He has already thrown a near no-hitter this year, and in his last outing, went 6 solid innings (taken out only on a strategic offensive move), striking out 10 batters with only 1 walk.
EK: Any predictions for the upcoming series?
CH: Well, I’d love to say we’ll sweep the Marlins just like we did Arizona in our last series, but history proves that it’s never easy against the Marlins. Top that off with the fact that the Marlins have won 7 of their last 10, and while I still predict a Braves’ win of the series, I’ll predict a 2-1 series win for Atlanta.
A big thank you to Chris for taking his timeout to talk to us. We at Marlin Maniac wish all Braves fans (maybe not all of them) the best of luck in the upcoming series. If you get a chance, do check out some of the great content over on Tomhawk Take.