The Atlanta Braves (39-24) and San Diego Padres (29-34) open a three-game series on Monday at Petco Park with the Braves looking to build on their 18-17 road record in 2013. The Padres find themselves six games back in the National League West and have a 16-14 record at home on the season. Here’s a preview of what to expect between the two teams.
Probables: Monday: Julio Teheran (4-2, 3.30) vs. Jason Marquis (7-2, 3.73); Tuesday: Tim Hudson (4-5, 4.48) vs. Andrew Cashner (4-3, 3.68); Wednesday: Paul Maholm (7-4, 3.46) vs. Edinson Volquez (4-5, 6.33).
Keys: The Braves’ starting rotation has been on fire recently (11 consecutive quality starts) and to continue that they will need to keep leadoff hitter, Everth Cabrera, off the bases. As a team, the Padres lead the MLB with 59 stolen bases, and Cabrera is the catalyst for that with his team and MLB-leading 29. Cabrera has stolen 17 bases and hit .358 in Padres wins this season, while stealing 12 and hitting .242 in losses. Maholm and Hudson have held Cabrera to just three hits in 17 combined at-bats, while Teheran has not faced him in his career.
Meanwhile, the offense should look to help the starters out by scoring early runs. The Padres rank second to last in the National League in starters’ ERA with a 5.07. That’s largely in part to the struggles of Volquez, who is just 1-3 with a 4.56 ERA in his career against the Braves. Justin Upton will look forward to facing him Wednesday as he’s a lifetime .583 hitter against the right-hander. Upton and the rest of the Braves’ offense will look to score early and often as the Braves have been a dominant team when scoring first this season.
Outlook: The Braves are the more talented team and should win the series. Although the Braves haven’t been as sharp on the road, they have a much deeper lineup, better rotation and stronger bullpen. The goal and expectation should be winning two of three before an off day and heading home on Thursday.