Once again, we traded five questions with Braves blogger Martin Gandy from SBNation's Atlanta Braves blog Talking Chop prior to this week's series. See his questions and my responses here.
1. It certainly appears to be Advantage: Braves at least as far as
starting pitching goes this series (with the probable exception of Roy
Halladay's start). What are you expecting from the scheduled Braves
starters (Hudson, Hanson, and Lowe) in this series?
Lowe will find some way to win, no matter how awful he pitches. Like
Halladay, he's 3-and-0, but unlike Halladay, he's been far from
dominant. I'd love to see them go up against each other just to see if
Lowe can challenge himself against a top-flight starter. Hanson and
Hudson have been the two aces of the Braves' staff so far this season,
and they will likely continue to serve in that capacity. Hanson is
only building on his dominant rookie year, and Hudson looks better
than he ever has in a Braves uniform. They present very different
styles to hitters, with Hanson bringing constant heat and Huddy being
a groundball machine. It should be interesting to see how the Phillies
play against those two different styles of pitching.
2. Several Braves hitters are off to outstanding starts this season,
particularly thorn-in-the-Phillies-side Martin Prado (.933 career OPS
against). Has Prado made any notable changes or is this just a
well-timed hot streak for the second baseman?
He did use the P90X workout this off-season, and he's gained a lot of
good lean muscle, so he should turn more of those doubles into
homeruns this year. He's also constantly improved his approach at the
plate, and right now he looks as good as just about any second baseman
in baseball (with the notable exception of your second baseman). Oh,
and I hope he continues to be a thorn in your side.
3. Jason Heyward has obviously been the talk of the Braves team this
year, if not all of baseball. His potential is enormous, but do you
have any notable concerns about the right fielder going forward?
Like any young player he will go through periods of adjustment where
he looks lost at the plate. He actually already went through one of
those periods a week ago when the league started throwing him nothing
but breaking balls away, but he came through that and adjusted quickly
and is right back to his opening day form. He's such an advanced
player for his age because of all the baseball he's played in his life
that his instincts and "experience" really make up for a lot of the
usual rookie deficiencies.
4. Chipper Jones is holding true to his apparent and unfortunate
pattern -- productive while in the lineup, but only plays about 75% of
the time. Will Jones ride off into the sunset with Bobby Cox when
this season is over?
I'd like to think Chipper will keep playing for several more years. If
the Braves had a ready replacement in the system it might be a
different story, but if he has a good year he won't hang them up just
yet. As many games as Chipper misses, he plays through pain in many
more games. Unfortunately his body has gotten fragile in his 30's,
something that's really beyond his control. What would you have him
do? Take steroids or HGH?
5. What are your thoughts and concerns with the Phillies coming into
this series? Which single player (besides Halladay) worries you the
More than Halladay (who we beat last year, BTW), the player who
concerns me the most has always been Ryan Howard. That dude
single-handedly beat us in half the games we played against each other
last season. We couldn't keep him in the park, and that scares me,
especially against Hanson, who can give up the occasional homer. I do
like our chances better at the end of games now that we have the
left-handed closer, Billy Wagner (you're familiar with him, right). My
hope is that he can match-up well against Utley and Howard.