Reeling Braves need Teheran to help beat Tanner, Trea

 

You might think that going up against guys named Tanner and Trea would not be such a formidable assignment, but right now the Braves are reeling and the Nationals are whipping them on a regular basis, and those two with the unimposing names are among many Nats presenting major problems for the home nine.

The Braves are riding a five-game losing streak, losers of seven of their past eight since winning six of seven – and doesn’t that now seem like a long time ago? – as they take on the Nationals and Tanner Roark tonight (Friday) in the second game of a four-game series at Turner Field.

The Braves welcom back Julio Teheran from the DL to make Friday's start against the Nationals. The skidding Braves need their All-Star to be at his best. (Getty Images)

The Braves welcom back Julio Teheran from the DL to make Friday’s start against the Nationals. The skidding Braves need their All-Star to be at his best. (Getty Images)

Against the Nationals this season, the Braves are 1-9 with a 4.98 ERA and have hit just .213 and scored 28 runs in 10 games, with half of those runs coming in two games in last weekend’s series in D.C. — an 8-5 win followed by a 7-6 loss. The Braves have totaled 14 runs in their other eight games against the Nats this season, scoring two or fewer runs in six of them.

Please, ye baseball gods, do not allow this game to spiral like last night’s, when the late innings were reduced to an atmosphere unlike almost anything I’ve seen in my 22 years of covering major league baseball. Those incessant, obnoxious “woo!” hollers coming from all corners every few seconds, echoing throughout the park and through the TV microphones, since Turner Field had mostly emptied due to long rain delay before the first pitch coupled with a five-run debacle of an eighth inning from the Braves bullpen. I think I heard those “woo’s” in my sleep. Awful.

Anyway, tonight the Braves welcome back All-Star Julio Teheran from the DL, and not a moment too soon. They haven’t had a starting pitcher work more than six innings since July 17, when Teheran pitched seven against Colorado. The bullpen, which held up so well and even thrived for several weeks, has unraveled in the past week under the weight of the workload on top of injuries, a trade and almost constant roster churn.

The Braves will likely need a good one from Teheran because they’re facing Roark, who is 7-1 with a 2.26 ERA and .229 opponents’ average in his past 10 starts including nine Nationals wins. He’s allowed 52 hits and 17 walks with 45 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings in that span and held opponents’ homerless in eight of those 10 games.

Roark will be making his second consecutive start against the Braves, after limiting them to five hits, one run and two walks in seven innings Sunday in a 9-1 Nationals win. He’s 2-0 with an 0.64 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season, allowing nine hits, one run and five walks with seven strikeouts in 14 innings.

Tonight he faces a Braves team that has a 6.91 ERA during its five-game losing streak and a .203 batting average with eight runs scored in the past four games.

Roard has had success against the Braves as both a starter and reliever throughout his career, going 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA in 14 games, including 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA in nine starts. The Nationals have won seven of his nine starts against ATL.

Roark has received 5.0 support runs per nine innings pitched this season including just over 5.6 in his past 10 starts. What Teheran would do for that kind of run support….

Speaking of Teheran (3-9, 2.81 ERA), would you believe he still doesn’t have a win at home this season? An All-Star pitcher with a 2.81 ERA, and he’s not won a game at home with September less than two weeks away. Teheran is 0-5 despite a 3.07 ERA in 12 home starts.

The Nationals have been a thorn for Teheran the past couple of seasons. He’s 0-1 with a 5.46 ERA, .305 opponents’ average and nine homers allowed in five starts against the Nats since the beginning of 2015, all Braves losses.

He’s made two starts against them this season: Teheran allowed two runs (on solo homers) and five hits in six innings for no decision in an April 4 home game, and gave up six runs and six hits (two homers) in seven innings of an April 14 loss at Washington.

Before 2015, Teheran was 3-2 with a 3.06 ERA in eight starts against the Nationals including six Braves wins.

Against Teheran, Bryce Harper is 12-for-28 with five home runs and 10 RBIs, Daniel Murphy is 8-for-20 with a homer, Wilson Ramos is 3-for-9 with a homer, and Jayson Werth is 5-for-29 with 10 strikeouts.

Against Roark, the Braves’ Matt Kemp is 3-for-8 with two homers, Anthony Recker is 4-for-9 with a homer, Freddie Freeman is 11-for-28, Ender Inciarte is 4-for-8, Nick Markakis is 1-for-12 with a homer and six walks, and Jace Peterson is 1-for-13.

And about that guy Trea: The Braves need to find a way to slow Nationals rookie Trea Turner, who is 13-for-31 (.419) with four extra-base hits (two homers) and three stolen bases in 10 games against Atlanta over parts of two seasons.

A versatile up-the-middle player (second base/shortstop/center field), Turner is 9-for-19 (.474) in four games against the Braves in the past week, the first times he faced them this season after being called up in June.

The Braves needn’t feel too bad about him doing damage, however, since he’s also done plenty lately against other eams, too. In his past 22 games, Turner has hit .330 (32-for-97) with six doubles, four triples, three homers, 10 stolen bases (in 11 attempts), 13 RBIs and a .567 slugging percentage.

• Gonna stick with Van Morrison, since I’ve been on one of those Van listening binges lately. This one, to me, is one of his very finest songs, and that’s saying a lot considering the trove of terrific tunes he’s produced over five decades.

“ORANGEFIELD” by Van Morrison

Van the f'ing Man

Van the f’ing Man

On a gold autumn day
You came my way in Orangefield
Saw you standing by the riverside in Orangefield
How I love you then in Orangefield
Like I love you now in Orangefield

And the sun shone on your hair
When I saw you there in Orangefield
Saw you standing by the riverside in Orangefield
How I loved you then in Orangefield
Like I love you now in Orangefield

And the sun shone so bright
And it lit up all our days
You were the apple of my eye
Baby it’s true

On a golden autumn day
All my dreams came true in Orangefield
On a throne of Ulster day
You came my way in Orangefield
How I loved you then in Orangefield
Like I love you now in Orangefield

And the sun shone so bright
And it lit up all our lives
And the apple of my eye
Baby was you

On a throne of Ulster day
You came my way in Orangefield
Saw you standing by the riverside in Orangefield
How I loved you then in Orangefield
Like I love you now in Orangefield
How I loved you then in Orangefield
Like I love you now in Orangefield.

 


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