Apr 22, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez (16) throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Turner Field. The Marlins defeated the Braves 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
As part of our series preview content, we want to offer Marlins fans with some insight into the team that they will be facing. We carry out this in many ways, and one of them is to interview editor’s of other Fansided team pages so we can get the in-depth information that you need heading into the series.
We were fortunate enough to connect with Brandon Woodworth, a staff writer at Tomahawk Take, our Fansided Braves site. Brandon gave us some information that we could expect as the Braves head to Miami, including his thoughts on the Jose Fernandez–Alex Wood pitching rematch.
I also answered some questions for Brandon on Tomahawk Take (link coming), check them out as well.
MM: The Braves pitching staff has been a major surprise thus far, what’s been the secret to their success? Is what they are doing sustainable for the duration of the season? If not, what needs to happen for the Braves to keep their lead in the division?
BW: I don’t know if there truly is any real secret to the success. The Braves are known for developing their starting pitching, and Roger McDowell does a great job with anyone he crosses paths with. Alex Wood and Julio Teheran were already primed for big seasons because of this, and in wake of injuries, the Braves made a couple of big veteran moves in signing Ervin Santana and dumping Freddy Garcia last minute for Aaron Harang, who is riding this new found velocity jump tremendously as you can tell. I don’t think this level of success is completely sustainable throughout the year, but even a step back from where the rotation is now is still head of the pack, and that is an extremely good feeling. All in all, I don’t see any current member of the rotation falling too far off from where they are. Obviously Aaron Harang won’t have a sub 1.00 ERA all year, but it’s clear that his offseason adjustments that the Braves liked enough to cut ties with Garcia to sign him are very real.
MM: Since we are near the end of the month, do you have an MVP for the month of April for the Braves?
BW: I think it has to be Freddie Freeman. The Braves have had a lot of different heroes night by night, but Freeman has been a model of consistency, and he is proving that last year wasn’t an unsustainable ceiling.
MM: What’s the latest on the injury front for the Braves? I see some notable names could be on the way back.
BW: Mike Minor is all but set to return from his injury. He was speculated as being ready for this past Saturday’s start, but I believe the organization just went with the famed Bobby Cox philosophy of “give him one more.” David Hale has been solid, but Minor should take his place within the next week. And right behind him is Gavin Floyd, who has been adamant about returning in May, and it looks like he’s probably right. He seems to be about 90% ready to come back at this point, the only problem is, where do you put him? Johnny Venters is also on the recovery track, but has yet to begin rehab games. Venters was a shut down setup man before Tommy John, so getting him back down the stretch will be a much needed shot in the arm for the pen.
MM: What’s up with the glasses BJ Upton has been sporting?
BW: BJ is giving glasses a try, hoping it can help his eye at the plate. He was asked about it and said he definitely noticed a difference, but he only went 2 for 8, with a walk and 3 strikeouts in the two games he has played with them. Much like anything he tries at this point, it’s a wait and see deal. He’s been slowly trending upwards in walks and striking out slightly less, so I’m remaining as optimistic as can be (and more optimistic than most Braves writers), but I’m not convinced glasses will be a magic fix.
MM: Can you give us a quick scouting report on the pitchers the Marlins will face this series?
BW: You’ve met Alex Wood obviously – a crafty lefty who pounds the strikezone with a bit of finesse more than overwhelming stuff. You’re also probably pretty familiar with Aaron Harang, who’s start will come exactly a week after the 11 strikeout performance last time these teams squared off. Harang has a tendency to throw a few more pitches than he should, but generally is just overwhelming hitters this year. Ervin Santana’s last outing for the Braves was a bit shaky (9 hits and 4 runs in 6.2 innings), but aside from this start, Santana has been especially sharp and a lot like Wood, he pounds the strikezone and wants hitters to either miss or make as little contact as possible. Limiting the defensive interaction is what these guys do best, so the best hope the Marlins have is to put the ball in play and make the Braves defense work for the out.
MM: Any bold predictions on what we may see this series? Are the Braves poised to come into Miami and dominate the Marlins, again? Will that Jose Fernandez-Alex Wood rematch live up to expectations?
BW: I think the Braves will squeak out a 2 out of 3 series win. Last week I jested at a sweep and predicted that Alex Wood would outpitch Jose Fernandez, and after last time, I think anyone outside of a vintage Pedro Martinez or Greg Maddux would have a hard time beating Fernandez. He’s amazing. I think my boldest prediction of the series will be that Aaron Harang tosses a complete game shutout, simply because he keeps proving me wrong when I speculate on when his unbelievable run will end.
We want to thank Brandon for giving us some insight to his team. If you want to get even more knowledge about the Braves, head over to the Tomahawk Take, where you can get the best Braves content around. Also be sure to check out the questions I answered for Brandon on TT.