Giants at Braves Weekend Showcase Preview

A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS WEEKEND'S SHOWCASE MLB SERIES: SF AT ATLANTA

Featured nationally on the MLB Network Friday Night, and then on ESPN Sunday Night, the San Francisco Giants at the Atlanta Braves is clearly this weekend's showcase series in baseball. You have the defending World Champs trying to find their championship form...against a team that's already a virtual lock for the playoffs who just might be on their way to big things in the 2013 postseason.

Neither team is in the best of form recently. Atlanta just got swept in San Diego by the Padres (though it only reduced their percentage chance to make the playoffs down to 96%!). San Francisco has been treading water for a long time because they just can't get consistent starting pitching. Let's run through the projected pitching matchups for this weekend set.

FRIDAY'S PITCHERS
S. Fran.... Bumgarner: 5-4, 3.58 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
Atlanta...Medlen: 3-6, 2.87 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

Bumgarner has been one of the few highlights on the SF staff this year...as the other starters have been way behind their historic form. Unfortunately for this series...Bumgarner is on the ROAD, where he's historically been very mortal...and he's also been shaky of late because his spots in the rotation have been falling in road games. SF needs some starting pitching, quick!

It's been a mix of good luck and back luck for Medlen...his won-lost record should be a lot better given that 2.87 ERA...but that 2.87 ERA should be higher given that 1.29 WHIP! He's not an ace...but he's been fairly reliable. Stick that in the woeful NL East this year and you have a guy who's likely to help you expand your lead over a 162-game season. Edge Friday to Medlen because of Bumgarner's home/road splits and Medlen's better form over the last month.

SATURDAY'S PITCHERS
S. Fran. ...Gaudin: 2-1, 2.32 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
Atlanta ... Minor: 8-2, 2.44 ERA, 0.94 WHIP

The catch with Gaudin is that he's only made two starts this year. He's done well, but he's not at all likely to maintain the ERA and WHIP numbers you see above over extended innings. If he were, he would have been in the rotation long ago. For now, he's been just what the Giants needed...somebody who could come in and throw some innings without the game blowing up.

Minor has been a major force for the Braves needless to say. He's posted ace caliber numbers all season, and the Braves have won his last seven starts in a row entering this game. He probably can't maintain those low numbers all season because that doesn't match his career. As long as he's healthy though, the's going to be somebody who matters in the NL this year. You probably can't say that about Gaudin, so edge to Atlanta on the mound in Game Two as well.

SUNDAY'S PITCHERS
S. Fran. ...Linecum: 4-6, 4.70 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
Atlanta ... Teheran: 4-3, 3.62 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

About once every five outings, Lincecum throws a gem that reminds you of the best of his early years. The rest of the time he's just throwing batting practice and getting rocked. That creates a bit of a dilemma for handicappers because you never know what you're going to get. Over the long haul, fading him is the better approach because there's been a lot more bad than good, just like last year when he was finally sent to the bullpen.

Teheran is a promising youngster who looks to have found his form over the past month. The problem with that theory is that he's faced a lot of mediocre offenses. San Francisco has blown hot and cold offensively. Teheran shut them down out West not too long ago. But, the Giants bats kind of re-awakened late in the Arizona series and then in Pittsburgh vs. Liriano. The numbers say Teheran has the edge...but it's the diciest matchup of the series for the Braves based on what we know of the pitchers.

Note that San Francisco has to catch an airplane for a flight home after this night game to host San Diego Monday Night, while Atlanta will still be home against the Mets. A potential getaway flat spot for the Giants if they faired well Friday or Saturday.

JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one play in this series this weekend. He's also looking at matchups like:

Boston at Baltimore
NY Yankees at LA Angels
Washington at Cleveland

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Back Saturday with more baseball coverage. Then, we'll preview Game Five of the Heat/Spurs series in our Sunday report.

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