The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox have been two of the most successful franchises over the last 15 or 20 years. These teams haven’t met since 2009, so it will be interesting to see these two square off in Fenway this weekend. These two come in with a very similar record. Let’s take a look at who might have the edge in this series opener.
Jair Jurrjens has been pitching in Triple A for the last couple months, but he was called up this week after Brandon Beachy was injured. Beachy will miss the rest of the season, so Jurrjens really needs to step up and fill a major hole in the Braves starting rotation. Jurrjens hasn’t exactly wowed anyone in the minors for the past couple months, so this will be a real test for him. Craig Kimbrel continues to be great as closer for the Braves, but the bullpen as a whole hasn’t been nearly as good this year as they were in 2011.
Atlanta’s offense has been a little tough to figure out this season. The Braves started the year cold, but they quickly became the top offense in the National League by the end of April. Over the past few weeks, the Braves offense has once again been in a major slump. Jason Heyward is showing signs of life, and he is a guy the Braves really need some more production from. Freddie Freeman’s injuries have held him back. Overall, the Braves average 4.55 runs per game.
Boston’s injuries led many to worry about their offense, but this lineup continues to produce at a very high rate. David Ortiz isn’t happy about the external drama surrounding the team, but he continues to crush the baseball. Ortiz has a .313 batting average with 18 homers and 49 RBI’s this season. Trade rumors continue to swirl regarding Kevin Youkilis, but that is partially because the youngsters who are sharing time with him are red hot. Will Middlebrooks and Daniel Nava have contributed in a big way over the past month as the Red Sox offense piles up runs on a nightly basis. Boston averages 5.18 runs per game, which is second in the majors.
Jon Lester was one of the best pitchers in the American League a couple years ago, but he hasn’t been able to find that form in 2012. Lester is 4-4 with a 4.53 ERA this season. He has allowed 92 hits in less than 88 innings of work. He has been particularly bad at Fenway. Lester has a 5.98 ERA at home this year.
MLB Free Pick: Over 10.5
The current heat wave in the Eastern United States is leading to higher scoring games, and these two offenses are both capable of big things. Both pitchers are struggling, and I expect a high scoring contest.