Tonight marks the Braves debut of Bud Norris, who’ll face the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg. By the way, forget the upper hand the Braves had for years against Strasburg, who hasn’t allowed a run, earned or otherwise, in his last three starts against the Braves.
Norris, with a 56-68 career record and 4.44 ERA, is hardly one of the more formidable No. 2 starters the Braves have had in a season-opening rotation, but the veteran is confident that he can get back to being a dependable, quality starter after being slowed by bronchitis in a career-worst 2015 season with the Orioles and Padres.
Norris lost his Orioles rotation spot after going 2-7 with a 6.79 ERA in his first 11 starts, with a .311 opponents’ average and 11 homers allowed in 55 2/3 innings. He spent the rest of the season in the bullpen with the O’s and Padres.
Against the Nationals, Norris is 2-1 with a 5.33 ERA in seven games including four starts, the last of those starts in 2014 and the others from 2010 through 2012. Ryan Zimmerman is 5-for-14 with three homers against him and Stephen Drew is 9-for-25 with a homer.
He’ll face a guy, Strasburg, who’s enjoyed a recent reversal of fortunes against the Braves. Strasburgh is 6-7 in 19 starts against the Braves, which means they are still the only team he doesn’t have a winning record against in five or more starts.
But after all those ragged and/or injury-shortened starts Strasburg had against the Braves early in his career, he’s actually been good to very good against them more often than not in the past few seasons, and dominant in his past three.
Strasburg was 3-7 with a 4.61 ERA in his first 16 starts against Atlanta, and the Nationals were 5-11 in those. But in three starts against the Braves since then, he’s 3-0 with 0.00 ERA, allowing 15 hits, no runs (earned or unearned) and two walks with 20 strikeouts in 18 innings. And two of those were at Turner Field.
His 4.79 ERA in nine starts at Turner Field is Strasburg’s second-highest at any ballpark where he’s pitched more than twice, but as we noted, he’s allowed just 11 hits and one walk with 14 strikeouts in 13 scoreless innings in his last two starts in Atlanta, one in 2014 and the other last season on Oct. 1.
Against Strasburg, Freddie Freeman is 12-for-28 (.429) with three homers, six walks and a .500 OBP. Kelly Johnson is 2-for-6 with a homer against him, Jeff Francoeur is 2-for-9 with a homer, Ender Inciarte is 1-for-5 with a homer, and Nick Markakis is 4-for-10. On the other hand, Drew Stubbs is 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts against him.