The Braves are fresh off their first series victory since whatever that thing was with the Dodgers back in July. A new era has dawned upon the Atlanta team. The Post-Johnson years are here and the just-getting-by-for-two-seasons lineup of veteran grittiness has been further aged up with the additions of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. The Braves also received top prospect Ten Million Dollars in the deal with the Indians that sent Chris Johnson up north. Hopefully, Dollars will be able to help fill out the bullpen which now features Andrew McKirahan and random members found by searching the #TCOT hashtag. The team now goes on to Florida to finish their home and home 4 game series against the Rays. Because that’s a thing that happens now. Long live baseball.
The Rays are sitting right at .500 on the year. As a team they are near the middle in just about every offensive statistic and have posted a fairly average 3.80 FIP. They have some standouts in Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe on the offensive side. Those two are having solid years so far with 3.5 WAR each. From the mound, Chris Archer has been predictably excellent (2.53 FIP) and Jake Odorizzi has come into his own. But overall, the rest of the team is pretty bland. They even out as a whole to be just about replacement level. Which is sadly a formidable force in relation to the Braves.
Atlanta’s lineup and rotation are not even a shadow of what they were last year. The team is a whole different monster these days. The turnover is remarkable, honestly. They will send Williams Perez and Matt Wisler to the mound this “series”. Two rookies who would be in most minor league organizations still, but are being given the chance to learn on the job in this throwaway season. Perez will match up against the Rays righty, Erasmo Ramirez; another youngish starter who projects to be, well, average as they come. Wisler will go up against Jake Odorizzi in a matchup of a slightly better calibur. Wisler, is of course, still very young, but does have a decently high ceiling to his talents. His last two starts have been rough, but there is potential there, as seen back when he first came up. Odorizzi is in his second full season in the bigs and has improved on his 2014 performance with a 3.32 FIP (3.75 in 2014). The Rays starter is a groundball/flyout guy with average velocity on his four seamer and a decent splitter and cutter. Neither of these matchups is stellar or exciting, but that is fitting for the two teams involved.
The Rays are 3.5 games out of an AL Wild Card spot. They are still in the hunt this season and will be looking for some cheap wins against the down year Braves. Atlanta is not 3.5 games out of a Wild Card nor their division lead. They are however sitting a strong 6.5 games above the red hot Phillies and 7 games above Miami in a battle to stay out of last in the NL East. They took care of business against the NL Florida team in their last series. Tune in to see if they can keep it up against the AL version.