Results: Atlanta Braves 7-5 (winning pitcher: Luis Avilan, losing pitcher: Cole Hamels); Braves 9-2 (winning pitcher: Paul Maholm, losing pitcher: Roy Halladay); Philadelphia Phillies 2-0 (winning pitcher: Cliff Lee, losing pitcher: Kris Medlen).
Series MVP: Freddie Freeman began the season in spectacular fashion with a two-run home run off Hamels in the season opener. Freeman finished the series going 5-for-10 with the home run and a team-leading six RBI. The power-hitting first baseman looks to be in for a big year hitting in between the Upton brothers.
Justin Upton: The Braves acquired Upton to bring more right-handed power to the lineup, and he provided that in the first series. He hit a home run in each of the first two games–one to left-center and another to right-center. Upton went 3-for-10 in the series with three RBI and two walks.
Paul Maholm: Maholm threw 5 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball in the second game of the series to pick up his first win of the season. He leads the team early on with six strikeouts and leads starters with a 1.24 WHIP. Maholm flies under the radar, but he’s an important player for the Braves to get consistent outings from.
Luis Avilan: The left-hander will be asked to step up in the absence of Jonny Venters, and he did just that in the opener. Avilan came into the game with a 4-3 lead but runners on second and third with just one out. He struck out Ryan Howard and then got Domonic Brown to harmlessly ground out. The Braves never looked back after it looked as if the Phillies could steal the game out from under them. Avilan allowed just a hit and a walk in 2 1/3 innings in the series.
B.J. Upton: This will be a series Upton will want to forget. He finished hitless in 11 at-bats with a team-leading seven strikeouts. Upton has the ability to carry a team at times, but he will also go through lulls like this one where he flounders. Upton would like to get that first hit in a Braves’ uniform before he begins to press.
Kris Medlen: The final line from Thursday night’s game didn’t look too bad (5 innings, 6 hits, 2 earned runs), but Medlen looked uncomfortable all night. It took him 49 pitches to get through just two innings. Other than a nine-pitch fifth inning, Medlen was in and out of trouble all night.
Cristian Martinez: Martinez was called upon to eat up some innings in the second game but failed miserably to do that. He lasted just a third of an inning as he allowed three hits and two runs. That may not seem like a big deal in a 9-2 win, but eating up innings helps to save the rest of the bullpen to set up future success. Martinez also will be competing with Anthony Varvaro for the last spot in the bullpen when Venters returns.
Bombs Away: On paper, the Braves looked to be a powerful team. Through three games, the team is third in the MLB with six home runs (Upton 2, Jason Heyward, Freeman, Evan Gattis and Dan Uggla).
Whiffs: This also appeared to be a team that would strike out a lot. They also are third in the MLB with 34 strikeouts.
Getting on Base: I think a telling stat for this Braves team will be their on-base percentage. They can be an elite offense if they finish in the upper half of the National League. Otherwise, it will be an inconsistent offense all year. They sit right in the middle in the National League with a .288 OBP through three games.