Atlanta Braves’ Jordan Walden made his second rehab appearance with the Gwinnett Braves on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander went one inning, walking one and striking out two. He hurled 19 pitches, 12 for strikes in the G-Braves 4-2 win over the Rochester Red Wings. After his start, I caught up with the Braves reliever.
JD: How did the Hamstring feel?
JW: “Hamstring felt good. I didn’t have any issues with it again, so that was a positive.”
JD: Was there any shoulder/arm issues associated with skipping your last scheduled rehab?
JW: “My arm just needed an extra day of rest. It was my first time out (on Thursday) and I just needed another day so that’s why I threw today.”
JD: You threw 19 pitches, 12 for strikes. Did you feel like you commanded the zone a little better today?
JW: “I mean, I walked the first guy. I wasn’t very happy with that. I didn’t feel like the command was there, but I battled through and got a couple strike outs.”
JD: First time out you said you had trouble from the stretch, how did you feel about it this time around?
JW: “I tested myself early by walking the leadoff batter. It wasn’t a good thing that I walked him but I tested myself from the stretch and it felt a lot better this time around. Especially from the last time I threw from the stretch (Thursday night).”
JD: What’s next?
JW: “I’m not sure. Hopefully I get to meet up with the team in Colorado, but at this point I have to wait and hear what they have to say.”
“The difference between a successful person and others is not the lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” -Vince Lombardi-
Sat: Jordan Walden (0-1, 27.00) vs. Alex Meyer (3-2, 3.65)
Sun: Zach Stewart (3-3, 4.07) vs. LHP Logan Darnell (1-3, 2.58)
Mon: Cody Martin (3-5, 3.82) vs. LHP Kris Johnson (6-2, 2.44)
Tue: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-6, 3.67) vs. Trevor May (5-4, 2.80)
The Gwinnett Braves and the Rochester Red Wings meet up for the second time in less than a week on Saturday, June 7. The Red Wings took three of four in Rochester, NY last week. Since meeting, the teams are going in opposite directions. The G-Braves have lost three of ten, while Rochester has won seven of ten.
Pitching: Jordan Walden will make his second rehab appearance with the G-Braves on Saturday. The right-hander went .2 innings, allowing two runs on one hit Thursday night. He struck out the side, but a wild pitch on the third strike to the third hitter allowed him to reach, setting the stage for a two-run homer by Elliot Johnson.
Right-hander Stewart and Martin will follow, while left-handed Rodriguez will throw the finale. Both Martin and Rodriguez will look to ride the ship, as they have lost three straight games.
Rochester will counter with the best staff in the IL. Highly-touted right hander Meyer and May will through the opener and the finale, while Johnson will take game three.
May was named IL Pitcher of the week after going 2-0 with 0.00 ERA in 12.0 innings of baseball. May has now won four straight starts overall and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 26 innings of work. After tossing 5.0 innings of a comfortable 10‐5 Red Wings victory over Syracuse on Memorial Day, May returned to the hill Saturday evening to face Gwinnett. May gave his club 7.0 more scoreless innings against the Braves, walking two and striking out four on the way to a 6‐1 Rochester triumph. Mayʹs ERA has dropped to 2.62, the 7th‐best mark in the League this season. Opposing hitters have posted a mere .196 average against him (2nd in the IL).
While May has been on fire, Johnson has been the Red Wings most consistent hurler. The lefty is on a five game winning streak, spanning from 4/24 to 6/4. In the month of May, Johnson went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five starts. He has struck out 54 batters in 59.0 innings.
Batting: The G-Braves offense has sputtered of late. In the last week, they have gone from the top batting team to the No.5. The losses of La Stella (promotion) and Todd Cunningham (injury) have slowed the offense. Christian Bethancourt is swinging a hot bat of late. The catcher has a five-game winning streak. During the streak, he is batting .388 with two runs scored and two doubles.
Gosselin continues to be the most consistent bat in the G-Braves lineup. The infielder recorded three hits on Friday night. He has 23 multi-hit games on the season. He is batting .327 (70-for-214) with 15 doubles, two triples, one homer and 14 RBIs in 53 games.
After starting the season batting .100 with one RBI through the first four games, Colabello has recorded seven RBIs in his last three games. The 2013 IL MVP and Rookie of the Year is hitting .171 with one homer and 10 RBIs in 10 games with the Red Wings.
While Colabello finds his stroke, the Red Wings will rely on the hot bat of Deibinson Romero. The third baseman is batting .305 (57-for-187) with 13 doubles, one triple, four homers and 24 RBIs in 55 games with Rochester.
G-Bites:Third baseman Joe Leonard has been promoted to Gwinnett from Double-A Mississippi and outfielder Andy Simunic was signed as a free agent and assigned to Gwinnett on Friday. The two new additions replace outfielder Cunningham, who was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 4 with a left thumb sprain, and outfielder Derrick Mitchell, who was transferred to Double-A Mississippi.
Atlanta Braves’ right-hander Jordan Walden, recovering from a left hamstring strain, made his first rehab start for Gwinnett. Walden threw two thirds of an inning, allowing two runs on one hit, striking out three and issuing one wild pitch. Of his 23 pitches, 14 were strikes. Columbus scored twice against Walden in the first inning. He was electric early, striking out Jose Ramirez looking and Tyler Holt swinging. He struck out Adam Abraham as well, but his third strike was a wild pitch sending Abraham to first base. With the inning extended, former Atlanta Brave Elliot Johnson belted a two-run home run, ending Walden’s night.
After the G-Braves 6-0 loss, I caught up with Walden:
JD: How did you feel out there? How is the hamstring holding up?
JW: “I felt good. Hamstring felt good for the first time being out and seeing hitters for a little bit over a month, it felt good.”
JD: You threw 23 pitches, 14 for strikes, how would you access your command of the strike zone?
JW: “Yeah, I felt good until I got the runner on first base. Then I just felt a little rusty with a runner on base. Didn’t feel comfortable and threw a pitch where I didn’t want it and Elliot hit it out.”
JD: You played with Elliot (Johnson) last year. Was there some familiarity to your pitches that helped him out in his at bat?
JW:“I’m guessing he was sitting on a fastball and I just happen to throw it right down the middle of the plate. I played with him, he’s a good player and you just got to tip your hat to him for the swing he put on it.”
JD: Did you think you did a good job of executing your pitches tonight?
JW: “It was okay. I didn’t throw many off speed pitches, but the ones I did throw were pretty good.”
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison
Tue: Zach Stewart (3-2, 4.03) vs. Gabriel Arias (0-2, 5.73)
Wed: Cody Martin (3-4, 3.36) vs. Danny Salazar (0-3, 7.11)
Thu: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-6, 3.38) vs. Tyler Cloyd (2-3, 4.91)
Fri: Gus Schlosser (3-2, 4.94) vs. Kyle Davies (2-3, 3.40)
The Gwinnett Braves open up an eight-game homestand at Coolray Field beginning Tuesday, June 3 against the Columbus Clippers, Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Gwinnett enters the contest one game out of first place in the Wild Card standings, while Columbus is 5.5 games back of the front-running Rochester Red Wings in the Wild Card race.
Pitching: Columbus enters the series with one of the better pitching staffs in the league, ranking sixth in the IL with a 3.75 ERA. The Clippers have lost left-hander T.J. House and right-hander Trevor Bauer to Cleveland, but still have a bevy of arms to rely on. Danny Salazar is off to a slow start in 2014, but features electric stuff. The right-hander has a mid-90’s fastball, hard slider and a change-up. In 12.2 innings with the Clippers, he has struck out 15 batters.
While Salazar works out his kinks in hopes to return to the Major Leagues, the Clippers will rely heavily on the bullpen during the series. With Mark Lowe and Vinnie Pestano in the back end of the pen’, the Clippers have MLB talent and experience to close out games. Lowe is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA and is 8-for-9 in save opportunities, while Pestano is 1-3 with a 2.41 ERA.
Gwinnett will counter with a talented bullpen of their own, as Juan Jaime, Ian Thomas and Atahualpa Severino are ready to close out games for the G-Braves. Jaime enters the series with a 1-0 mark and 3.10 ERA in 21 games. The right-hander is a perfect 10-for-10 in save chances, while striking out 32 in 20.1 innings.
Thomas returns from Atlanta after serving another short stint with the Braves. The lefty has dominated the Triple-A circuit, going 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 5.0 innings. He has fanned eight batters, while only allowing one hit. Thomas is working out his slider in Triple-A, which can prove to be an asset once he gets it going.
The addition of Thomas hasn’t slowed Severino, as the southpaw entered the series with a team-leading six holds. He is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 20 games. Severino has struck out 32 batters in 24.0 innings.
Batting: Gwinnett’s offense was cooled off on their current road trip, scoring 24 runs in eight games and was shutout twice. However, Gwinnett still has the No.2 offense in the IL. Phil Gosselin continues to pace the attack, batting .324 (66-for-204) with 14 doubles, two triples, one homer and 13 RBIs. Gosselin is tied for the team lead in runs (28), doubles and triples.
Tyler Pastornicky has taken his demotion from Atlanta in stride. In four games since being sent down, the infielder is batting .471 (8-for-17) with two runs scored and one double. Last season, Pastornicky hit .292 (84-for-288) with 13 doubles, two triples, four homers and 28 RBIs in 74 games with Gwinnett.
Columbus will rely on Roberto Perez to lead the offensive attack. The backstop is having a great season, batting .321 (27-for-84) with four doubles, five homers and 19 RBIs. He leads the team in batting, homers and is second in RBIs.
He will look to carry the offense that lost Jesus Aguilar to an early season promotion.
“Excuses are the nails that built the house of failure.” –Jenna Wyatt-
Fri: Cody Martin (3-3, 2.89) vs. LHP Kris Johnson (4-2, 2.11)
Sat: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-5, 3.20) vs. Trevor May (4-3, 3.00)
Sun: Gus Schlosser (3-1, 6.12) vs. LHP Scott Diamond (2-6, 7.51)
Mon: Yunesky Maya (1-0, 3.06) vs. Alex Meyer (3-1, 3.31)
With both teams trailing their respective division leaders by less than two games, the Gwinnett Braves and the Rochester Red Wings enter a pivotal series for Wild Card supremacy. The G-Braves enter the series with a one game lead on the Rochester Red Wings even though the teams are trending in opposite directions. Rochester is 6-4 in their last ten games, while Gwinnett is 4-6.
Pitching: The Gwinnett Braves will turn the ball to their No.1 and No.2 starters to begin the series. Martin will take the ball in the first game; looking to record his fourth win of the season. Martin is coming off one of his worst outings of the 2014 season, as he gave up five runs (two earned) in 4.0 innings on 5/25 vs. Norfolk. Despite the poor start, Martin has put up some impressive numbers on the season. He is second on the squad in wins and strikeouts (53), while leading the staff with a 2.89 ERA.
Hector Daniel Rodriguez leads the team in wins and strikeouts (57). The southpaw has been excellent in his third stint with the G-Braves. In 10 starts, he has already surpassed his win total from 2013, while accumulating more punch outs than season ago. Rodriguez has been effective around the zone, walking 18 batters in 59.0 innings. Last season, he walked 38 batters in 53.0 innings for the G-Braves.
Right-handers Schlosser and Maya round out the rotation for Gwinnett.
They will be opposed by two of the better hurlers in the Minnesota Twins organization in Kris Johnson and Trevor May. Johnson was an IL All-Star last season with the Indianapolis Indians, and has continued his great work this year. He has won three straight games from 4/24 to 5/25. In his last start, he tossed a season-high 8.0 innings, allowing two runs on four hits in the win against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
May is also coming into the series with a three-game winning streak. The righty has posted wins in back-to-back-to-back contests. He has tossed 19.0 innings without allowing an earned run. In his last start, he allowed one unearned run on five hits. During the scoreless streak, he has struck out 15, while walking nine. He is rated the No.8 prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America.
Batting: Despite changes to the lineup, the Gwinnett Braves continue to hit. The G-Braves lead the league in hitting, batting .270 as a squad. They are third in the league in runs scored (248) despite ranking ninth in the league in homers (33).
Phil Gosselin continues to pace the offensive attack. The infielder enters the contest second in the league with a .337 (64-for-190) batting average. He is second in the IL in hits and leads the G-Braves in doubles.
In addition to the consistency of Gosselin, Christian Bethancourt has swung a hot bat in May. The backstop is batting .282 (22-for-78) with nine runs scored, five doubles, one triple, two homers and 17 RBIs. His 17 RBIs during the month of May lead the team.
The Red Wings will counter with the 2013 IL MVP and Rookie of the Year, Chris Colabello. Since being optioned to Rochester, the first baseman is hitting .100 (1-for-10) with one RBI in three games. Last season, he hit .352 (119-for-338) with 24 homers and 76 RBIs for the Red Wings.
G-Notes: Tyler Pastornicky joined the G-Braves on Thursday night and went 2-for-4 in his first appearance since being optioned by the Braves…. Former G-Brave Ernesto Mejia is hitting .457 (21-for-46) with two homers and six RBIs in 11 games for the Seibu Lions…
“Whatever you want to do, If you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.” -Maya Angelou
Sat: Zach Stewart (2-2, 4.65) vs. Vance Worley (1-1, 2.08)
Sun: Cody Martin (3-2, 2.72) vs. Jake Brigham (1-2, 3.38)
Mon: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (4-3, 3.00) vs. Brandon Cumpton (3-1, 1.41)
Tue: TBA vs. Casey Sadler (4-1, 2.15)
Two International League powers collide in a four-game series beginning Saturday, May 17 at 7:05 PM at Coolray Field. The front-running Indians, Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, roll into the series on a one game winning streak and 3.5 games up on the Columbus Clippers in the IL West, while the G-Braves are winner’s of three straight and are .5 games back of the Durham Bulls in the South Division.
Pitching: Cody Martin, the No. 11 prospect in the Braves organization according to Baseball America, will get the ball in game two. The right-hander has been dominant of late. In his last two starts, he is 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 13.1 innings. Martin enters the weekend series tied for the league-lead in strikeouts with 49, and ranking fourth in batting average against at .196.
Rodriguez has handled himself well too. The lefty went a season-high seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits in last start on May 13. He leads the team in wins and is second in ERA and strikeouts (39).
The Indianapolis Indians will counter with four right-handers. Worley will take the ball in game one. In two starts with the Indians, the right-hander has recorded two quality starts with ten strikeouts. His last time out, he went 7.0 innings, allowing two runs on six hits vs. Norfolk on 5/12.
Worley has been a nice addition to the rotation, while Cumpton has dominated with the Indians. The righty is 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA. In five starts, he has racked up 15 strikeouts in 32.0 innings, while limiting hitters to a .248 batting average. The Augusta, GA native would rank first in International League in ERA, but is one inning from qualifying.
Batting: Two of the better offenses will matchup this weekend, as the Gwinnett Braves enter with the No. 1 ranked offense, while Indianapolis Indians enter with the No. 3.
The Indians are led by the lethal duo of Gregory Polanco and Andrew Lambo. Polanco, the No. 1 prospect in the Pittsburgh organization according to Baseball America, is batting .380 (60-for-158) with 11 doubles, five triples, five homers and 37 RBIs. Polanco was named IL Batter of the Week on April 14 after batting .500 (14-for-28) with one double, two triples, one homer, six runs and seven RBIs from April 7-13.
Lambo is coming off of a season in which he tallied 33 home runs and 101 RBIs between Double-A Altoona, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. The outfielder is batting .344 (32-for-93) with 13 doubles, one triple, two homers and 19 RBIs. He enters the season rated the No. 21 prospect in the Pirates organization according to Baseball America.
The G-Braves offense will be led by Phil Gosselin. The right-handed hitting Gosselin continues to hit. He has hit safely in 12 of 15 May contests and is batting .328 (21-for-64) with five doubles, two triples and two RBIs during May. On the season, Gosselin is batting .331 (47-for-142) with 11 doubles, two triples and eight RBIs. He leads the team in batting, doubles and triples.
Gosselin leads the team in hitting, but Todd Cunningham has led the squad during the month of May. The switch-hitting outfielder is batting .361 (22-for-61) with five doubles, one homer and eight RBIs during the month of May. Last season, Cunningham hit .417 (5-for-12) with one double and three RBIs against the Indians.
G-Bites: On Friday afternoon, the G-Braves announced that Brandon Boggs was joining the team as he was signed by the Atlanta Braves. Boggs, 31, was released by Atlanta on March 29 after batting .250 (1-for-4) with two RBIs in three Spring Training games. In 18 games with independent league Bridgeport, he batted .324 (22-for-68) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBIs. Last season, Boggs combined to hit .236 (97-for-476) with 19 doubles, four triples, seven home runs and 36 RBIs between Triple-A Rochester (Minnesota Twins) and Gwinnett. He played in 98 games for the G-Braves, batting .248 (83-for-335) with five home runs and 28 RBIs.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churhill
Tues: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (3-3, 3.08) vs. LHP Sean Nolin (2-1, 2.34)
Wed: Gus Schlosser (0-1, 9.82) vs. LHP Ricky Romero (0-1, 6.00)
Thu: Yunesky Maya (0-0, 2.55) vs. Kyle Drabek (3-2, 4.04)
Fri: Zach Stewart (2-2, 4.65) vs. Liam Hendriks (5-0, 1.51)
The Gwinnett Braves and Buffalo Bisons will matchup for the final time this season at Coca-Cola Field from May 13 through May 16. Last weekend, the G-Braves took three of four from the Bisons at Coolray Field. Buffalo enters the contest seven games above .500 and in first place of the IL North, while Gwinnett is one game back of the Durham Bulls in the IL South. G-Braves have lost two straight games, while the Bisons have a three-game win streak.
Pitching: Buffalo enters the series with a league-best 3.09 ERA, allowing a league-low 123 runs (107 ER) in 35 games. Gwinnett is at the bottom of the ERA standings, holding a 4.30 ERA (12th in IL) in 37 games.
Buffalo will lean on Nolin and Hendriks to anchor the staff during the series. Nolin will make his second start of the season against Gwinnett. On 5/8, Nolin recorded the loss against the G-Braves, allowing four runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings. Nolin was tough for the first five frames, as he tossed five scoreless before being chased in the sixth. On the season, Nolin is 2-1 with a 2.34 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 34.2 innings.
Hendriks fared a lot better against the G-Braves in his start last week, as he went 7.0 innings, allowing seven hits and one unearned run on 5/6. He did not factor in the decision as Gwinnett scored two in the eighth to clip the Bisons on Tuesday night. Hendriks enters the series leading the league in wins and is second in ERA (1.51). He will pitch the finale on Friday night.
Schlosser will pitch in game two for the G-Braves. Since he was optioned to Gwinnett, the right-hander has been roughed up for eight runs in 7.1 innings. He has allowed four home runs, while striking out seven. Right-handed batters are hitting .333 (6-for-18) with five extra-base hits (two doubles & three homers) against him. In his last start, he tossed a season-high 4.0 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and struck out a season-high five.
Maya will enter Thursday’s contest with the best ERA on the G-Braves. He will make his fourth start of the season since taking over for Mitch Atkins on 4/17. In three starts, he is 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA. He has scattered 13 hits, allowing three earned runs and recording three strikeouts.
Batting: G-Braves enter the series with the best-hitting team in the IL, hitting .275 (354-for-1286) as a team. Despite connecting for 24 homers (10th in the IL), the G-Braves have scored 180 runs (2nd in the IL).
Phil Gosselin continues to pace the squad with a .333 (43-for-129) average. He is second on the team with ten doubles and leads the squad with two triples. He is working on a five-game hitting streak, batting .400 (8-for-20) with four runs scores, three doubles and two RBIs during that span.
Despite snapping his eight-game hitting streak in a pinch-hit appearance Monday afternoon, Todd Cunningham enters the series red hot. In 12 May games, he is batting .373 (19-for-51) with nine runs scored, four doubles, one homer and six RBIs. He is perfect 3-for-3 in stolen base chances.
Buffalo’s lineup has a little bit of everything to offer. Dan Johnson provides the power in the middle of the order (.306 BA, 7 HR, 28 RBI), while Kevin Pillar adds speed and versatility at the top of the order. In 34 games, Pillar is hitting .305 with 13 doubles, three triples, one homer, 19 RBIs and five stolen bases. Pillar leads the team in doubles, triples and is second in RBIs and stolen bases. In four games at Coolray Field last week, Pillar went 6-for-14 with one double, one triple and three RBIs.
South Invasion: Buffalo enters tonight’s contest with an 8-4 record against the South Division in 2014. Three of those losses came to the Braves last week at Coolray Field.
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and want most.” -Abraham Lincoln
Mon: TBA vs. TBA
Tue: TBA vs. Liam Hendriks (4-0, 1.26)
Wed: Cody Martin (2-2, 3.64) vs. LHP Sean Nolin (2-0, 1.55)
Thu: LHP Daniel Rodriguez (3-3, 2.73) vs. LHP Ricky Romero (0-0, 4.86)
The Gwinnett Braves and the Buffalo Bisons open up a four-game set on Monday night. Gwinnett enters the game only four games back of the front-running Durham Bulls in the South Division standings despite losing four straight games. While, the Buffalo Bisons are leading the North Division and are currently on a six-game winning streak.
Pitching: Gwinnett will have their hands full, as they will face No.1 staff in the International League. Entering today, Buffalo leads the league with a 2.91 ERA. They have logged 244.0 innings, striking out 228 and walking 102. Hendriks, who is second in the league in wins and third in ERA, will take the ball in game two. The former Minnesota Twins’ farmhand has been dominant since moving to the rotation. In four turns, he is 3-0 with 1.46 ERA, striking out 23 batters in 24.1 innings.
Nolin, the game three starter, has been just as impressive. The southpaw is 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA in five turns this year. Last season, in 21 starts across three levels, he combined to go 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 111.2 innings.
On the other side, Gwinnett enters the contest ranked 11th in ERA. They are the only team in the IL with an ERA over 4.00 and a winning mark.
Martin and Rodriguez have been solid for the G-Braves. Both lost in their last turn of the rotation, but have .500 records and sub-4.00 ERAs.
Despite owning a 3-3 record, Rodriguez has been special all season. The southpaw leads the team in wins, innings (33.0), ERA and is second in strikeouts (31).
Offense: The G-Braves are starting to miss Ernesto Mejia more and more. In the last eight games, the G-Braves have homered once and scored 36 runs, while dropping five of eight.
Joey Terdoslavich has been red hot in the absence of Mejia. He currently has a 14-game hitting streak and leads the team with a .333 (36-for-108) batting average. He has eight doubles, two homer and 10 RBIs on the season.
Despite snapping his 21-game on base streak on Saturday night, Tommy La Stella continues to rake. The lefty is batting .313 (31-for-99) with two doubles and 15 RBIs. He leads the team in RBI and is third in hits.
Buffalo will counter with the IL Batter of the Week, Kevin Pillar. Last week, he led the IL with a .444 batting average, 12 hits and nine RBI, leading Buffalo to a perfect 6-0 record. In 26 games, he is batting .275 (30-for-109) with nine doubles, two triples and 15 RBIs.
In addition to Pillar, the G-Braves will have to deal with Dan Johnson. The former IL MVP, is batting .309 (29-for-94) with a team-leading five homers and 20 RBIs. He has more homers than the whole team combined as he enters play on Monday.
Bison Tracks: Last season, the G-Braves took five of eight from the Bisons, but split the series at Coolray Field.
Quote of the Day: “Every dream you ever have can’t be reached without action.”
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.