Prior to the start of the regular season, the home opener for the Atlanta Braves was supposed to feature the return from the disabled list of Chipper Jones. Instead, with the Braves in need of a major boost to their lineup, Jones returned two games early. With Jones ready to start in the final home opener of his career, what are the pitching matchups for their series with the Milwaukee Brewers?
Friday, April 13, 2012 - 7:35 p.m. ET
The home opener for the Braves will feature Jair Jurrjens getting the nod against Randy Wolf. Jurrjens lost his first start, lasting just 4 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and three walks. He made just 23 starts a year ago, but was one of the best pitchers in the National League during the first half of the season. Against the Brewers in his career, he is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA, throwing 21 1/3 innings with 15 strikeouts.
Wolf lost his first start of the year, lasting just five innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits with one walk. He recorded seven strikeouts against the St. Louis Cardinals, but his offense couldn't bail him out. In his career against the Braves, Wolf is just 5-12 with a 5.28 ERA.
If the Braves are to find a way to get their offense on track, it should come against Wolf.
Saturday, April 14, 2012 - 7:10 p.m. ET
The second game of the series will see the talented veteran, Shaun Marcum take the hill against one of the brightest stars in Atlanta, Mike Minor. Minor had a great Spring Training, giving the team and its fans hope for a solid 2012 season. Instead, Minor was roughed up in his first start, allowing six earned runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts. The one thing he will need to do to be successful in his career is get his walk total down.
Marcum had a decent opening performance, allowing three earned runs on five hits with six strikeouts. He earned the win against the Chicago Cubs, and will look to pick up his second career victory against the Braves. He is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts, allowing just three earned runs with 12 strikeouts.
I don't consider Minor's spot in the rotation safe, especially considering how well Randall Delgado pitched in his first start and the return of Tim Hudson a couple weeks out. He needs to have a solid performance against the Brewers to lock up his spot.
Sunday, April 15, 2012 - 1:35 p.m. ET
The series finale will see another solid young Atlanta pitcher, with Brandon Beachy taking the hill against Chris Narveson. Beachy went 7-3 as a rookie and is hoping to follow up with a solid sophomore performance. In his first start, errors doomed him and the team, as he allowed four runs (one earned) in five innings against the Houston Astros. Beachy has pitched against the Brewers twice, allowing just one earned run in 12 innings with 16 strikeouts.
Narveson picked up the win in his first performance, going five innings with just two earned runs allowed with four strikeouts. He will be making his third start against the Braves and has had great success, much like his counterpart has with the Brewers. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 12 innings.
This may be the best matchup of the series considering how much both team's offenses have struggled against Beachy and Narveson.
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Hobson Lopes has been a life-long Atlanta Braves fan, thanks to TBS, and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.