Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (11-14) at Gwinnett Braves (15-10)
Thu: Zach Stewart (1-1, 4.98) vs. Sean O’Sullivan (0-2, 3.97)
Fri: Cody Martin (2-1, 2.66) vs. Jonathan Pettibone (1-0, 4.09)
Sat: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (3-2, 2.67) vs. David Buchanan (3-0, 3.45)
Sun: Mitch Atkins (1-3, 5.01) vs. LHP Greg Smith (2-0, 1.82)
The Gwinnett Braves return home after a solid 4-4 road trip, while the Lehigh Valley IronPigs begin their eight-game swing with a four-game set at Coolray Field. Gwinnett enters the game with a one game lead in the Wild Card lead and two games behind the Durham Bulls in the South division. Lehigh Valley is tied for fifth in the North division and is four games behind the front-running Pawtucket Red Sox.
Pitching: Lehigh Valley comes into the contest with a team ERA of 3.80 through 25 games. The duo of Buchanan and Smith has led the IronPigs rotation. Buchanan leads the league with six starts and his tied for second in wins. He has fanned 19 batters in 28.2 innings. He will get the ball in game three.
Smith has been even better. The southpaw is a perfect 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA. He has recorded three quality starts in four attempts. On April 17, he tossed a complete game shutout against the Syracuse Chiefs. He is one three pitchers in the IL to toss a complete game shutout. He has 18 punch outs in 24.2 innings.
Gwinnett will counter with Stewart, Martin, Rodriguez and Atkins.
Martin has been sensational in his last three starts. The righty has gone 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA over his last three. On April 26, he fanned a season-high ten batters at Toledo. In 23.2 innings, he has recorded 33 punch outs. He will get the ball in game two.
Rodriguez will pitch game three. Through five starts, Rodriguez has recorded three wins, tying his mark from 2013. He has been solid, striking out 28 batters in 27.0 innings. He is coming off of his strongest outing of the season on April 27, as he tossed 7.0 scoreless innings at Toledo.
Batting: The Braves have had to live life without Ernesto Mejia since being released on Saturday to pursue other opportunities. In his absence, Joey Terdoslavich has carried the load. The switch-hitting outfielder has been on a tear of late, recording a hit in his last ten games. On Monday morning, the IL named him the Batter of the Week after posting a .500 average with one homer and three RBIs from 4/21-4/27. On the season, he is batting .330 (30-for-91) with two homers and 10 RBIs.
Tommy La Stella continues to impress in his first season of Triple-A ball. The infielder is hitting .310 (27-for-87) with two doubles and 15 RBIs. He leads the team in RBIs. In 99 plate appearances, the lefty has fanned six times.
Lehigh Valley is off to a slow start at the plate, posting a team batting average of .235 through 25 games. Highly-touted prospect Maikel Franco is having a nightmarish start to the season. The third baseman is hitting .172 (15-for-87) with one homer and seven RBIs. The No.1 prospect in the Phillies organization according to Baseball America has fanned 18 times and has committed two errors on the field.
Bacon Bites: Former G-Braves manager Dave Brundage returns to Coolray Field for the second time in his career as an opposing manager. Last season he took three of four from Gwinnett.