Atlanta Braves Face Challenge with Kansas City Royals Starter Ervin Santana

By Daniel Kock
B.J. Upton Atlanta Braves
Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports

The Atlanta Braves offense didn’t exactly impress in their last series against the Milwaukee Brewers — seven runs in three games against the worst starting rotation by ERA in MLB didn’t give the offense much momentum leaving Milwaukee.

They will face a much stiffer challenge on Tuesday night with one of the best pitchers in the American League in Ervin Santana.

Santana ranks third in the American League with a 2.64 ERA and 5.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and fifth with a 0.98 WHIP. In his last four starts, the right-hander has gone at least seven innings, allowing five or fewer hits and two earned runs or less (two starts allowing zero earned runs). He has a 3-3 record with a 2.98 ERA at home in 2013.

Only B.J. Upton and Gerald Laird have more than 20 at-bats against Santana for the Braves, and both have had moderate success against him. Upton is 8-for-24 (.333 batting average) that includes a home run and four RBIs with a .385 on-base percentage.

Meanwhile, Laird is hitting .286 with three extra-base hits for his career off Santana. Their experience playing in the American League could prove beneficial in providing a scouting report to the rest of a roster that is largely unfamiliar with him.

One weakness for Santana this season has been his penchant to give up the long ball. Opponents have hit 14 home runs off him, with 11 coming in Kansas City. The 14 home runs puts him in the top-15 in the American League in that category. The Braves still lead the National League with 96 home runs on the season and win the majority of their games in which they hit a home run.

Still, Santana will provide a very difficult challenge on Tuesday night. After a sub-par performance in Milwaukee, the Braves’ offense will need to elevate their performance to find success against an elite American League pitcher.

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