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NLDS Game Two Preview: Atlanta

Posted By Zach Sanders On October 8, 2010 @ 2:00 pm In Game Preview | 17 Comments

After being shut down by Tim Lincecum in game one, the Braves get to hit the reset button in game two.

The Hitting
Even though Lincecum pitched well last night, a good chunk of his success stemmed from the Braves’ offensive ineptitude. Timmy was leaving fastballs up in the zone, and the Braves didn’t end up doing much with them. Making matters worse, most of Lincecum’s strikeouts were on balls out of the zone, so the Braves’ hitters need to do a much better job of controlling the dish and keep the flailing to a minimum.

Atlanta should have an easier go of things tonight, as Matt Cain doesn’t have nearly the same swing-and-miss stuff as Lincecum. The Braves are going to need to try to take advantage of Cain’s fly ball tendencies, and try to stroke shots into the gaps as much as possible.

The Starter
After being nailed in the eye during batting practice yesterday, Tommy Hanson is good to go against the Braves this evening. Hanson put up very similar numbers to Matt Cain this year, so I’m expecting a fair fight on the mound.

Hanson was a highly-touted prospect just a year ago, but hasn’t done anything spectacular in the bigs. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been worth 4.3 WAR this year, but his numbers are far from superstar status.

One of Hanson’s biggest problems this year has been finding a consistent release point, and a simple glance at a pitch f/x chart will show how erratic he has been. If there is any good news to be taken from his release point, it should be noted that he is not necessarily tipping his pitches, as he’s had trouble with all of his offerings.

As far as his actual pitches go, Hanson relies on a hard four-seam fastball, which should be clocking in around 93 mph tonight. He also has a slider with good movement that he can throw for strikes, along with a slower, looping curveball. None of his pitches get a whole lot of whiffs, so the Giants may be able to keep the strikeouts to a minimum this evening.

The Defense
According to UZR, the Braves defense has been one of the worst in the league, coming in at 34 runs below average. Hanson gives up fly balls and grounders at the same rate, but he should try to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible tonight, thanks to an outfield defense that is often, shall we say, lacking? If the Braves play Rick Ankiel over Nate McLouth tonight, the defense doesn’t look so bad, otherwise it could be a death sentence if the Giants can pound balls towards center.

Prediction
Accuscore has the Braves losing by a full run in their simulations, and I tend to agree. I see Cain shutting down Atlanta, with the Giants taking a two game lead thanks to a 3-2 victory.


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