The Marlins embark on a crucial away series against the Atlanta Braves tonight. The Fish are so close to catching the Braves in the standings, not to mention they are still in the wild card race, albeit not by much. A sweep either way would change the outlook on the season down the home stretch. To help you get ready for the series we enlisted the help of Tomahawk Take’s writer Brandon Wood. Brandon was kind enough to answer some burning questions that we had for him. Check it out.
MM: Recently it seems as though the Braves are trending the wrong way in the standings. Is this a cause for concern or do you believe that they will be fine?
BW–It’s a huge cause for concern, because it’s exposing the Braves as the flawed team they are. It doesn’t help that the Nationals started to learn how to win just as the Braves stumbled. I am not saying it’s time to throw in the towel, but at this point, I think a lot of us here are more concerned with 2015.
MM: Do you see this Braves team as a playoff team? As of right now, how far do you think they can go?
BW–I still believe they have a shot at the wild card, maybe even the division series. But without a consistent offensive attack, I don’t see Atlanta as being able to keep pace with the likes of the Dodgers and Brewers.
MM: With the September callups just a few days away, are there any prospects on the horizon that may get some run that we should be watching for?
BW–I think Christian Bethancourt is the big name that will be added, as his 2 week stint earlier in the year left a lot to be desired. Bethancourt has been heralded as the catcher of the future for the Braves, despite his offensive shortcomings. His presence has also already sparked trade rumors about Evan Gattis going into the offseason. I don’t think Jose Peraza, one of the Braves’ most hyped prospects, will make the jump from AA. Aside from Bethancourt, I don’t see too many big name prospects added, but more of bullpen and bench reinforcements like Chasen Shreve and maybe a guy like Todd Cunningham.
MM: How close is Fredi Gonzalez to the hot seat? What would have to happen for him to lose his job security?
BW–In my opinion, he should already be on it. I don’t think he’s quite there, but the Braves missing the playoffs would probably start the conversation. He consistently makes very questionable defensive and bullpen decisions, and I don’t think a team that is already this streaky can be ran by a guy who sometimes plays his team out of games.
MM: Would you preview the pitchers that the Marlins are going to face in this series?
BW–Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana represent two sides of a lucky coin. Both have 3.60 ERA’s, but for very different reasons. Santana is far and away the better pitcher: He’s walking less, striking out more, and giving up fewer hits of the non-home run variety. But for this reason, it’s a bit disappointing to see someone with Santana’s stuff be unlucky enough for someone to look at his season at a glance and just see “ok” numbers, whereas Harang is considered to have revived his career. Harang isn’t giving up anything on the home run front, but he has been moderately hittable and prone to the occasional walk.
Mike Minor is just a plain head scratcher this year. After an ace like season last year, Minor of course got a late start to 2014, but has been giving up home run after home run and 10.6 H/9 despite really strong walk and strikeout numbers. He had an ugly first start to August, but in his past 3, he’s given up just 13 hits in 21.1 innings. Not dominant, but definitely more indicative of the Mike Minor of old.
He could be hitting his stride, so the Marlins will need to be on the lookout.
We want to thank Brandon for his insight. Be sure to check out Tomahawk Take for all the latest news and analysis on the Braves. We want to hear from you! Let us know your predictions in the comments below.