Series Preview #20, vs. Atlanta Braves

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After riding high in the Mile High, the Diamondbacks come back home looking to maintain their momentum against the NL East leaders, the Atlanta Braves.

What's New?

It was sweep times in Colorado (I know, I hate myself for than pun, too.), as the Diamondbacks picked up their first three-game sweep of the season and first sweep in Denver since 2008 through an offensive explosion that appeared to come out of left field (Okay, last pun, I promise.). Rookie right hander Chase Anderson continued his historic start on Tuesday, becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to win their first four major league starts by giving up one run on four hits in six innings in Arizona's 4-2 win. On Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks combined for 11 runs over the final two innings (powered by Miguel Montero and Paul Goldschmidt's ten RBIs) to win a see-saw battle 16-8. Late inning runs were the trend again Thursday night, as Chris Owings' four RBIs powered a 12-7 win.

After their offensive explosion, the Diamondbacks have moved to 13th in the majors in runs scored (247), batting .259 on the season and scoring 4.05 runs per game. However, the high-scoring contests at Coors Field were of no help to the Diamondbacks' league-worst pitching staff, as their team ERA remains the league's worst (4.47). They're statistically even worse at home in Chase Field, where their ERA drops to 4.82. With their hot streak, the Diamondbacks have won three in a row, and six of their last ten. They are currently 26-36, 14 games behind the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants. Arizona returns to Chase Field, where they are a measly 9-22 on the season.

The Braves come into the series led by their strong pitching staff, posting the league's second-best team ERA (2.98), and holding hitters to a .244 batting average. Their production, while still strong, decreases outside of the cavernous Turner Field, giving up a 3.26 ERA and holding batter to a .257 batting average on the road. Atlanta's downfall however, is their offense, which despite boasting a lineup with stars such as Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton have posted the second-worst run total in baseball (199) this season. They're even worse on the road, with their batting average dropping from .244 to .234 when on the road this season.

Atlanta comes to the desert having been swept in a two-game set by the Seattle Mariners in their last series, and have lost six of their last ten games overall. They are starting off a seven-game road trip, trying to improve upon their 13-13 record on the road this season. Overall, they are 31-27, tied with the Miami Marlins for the lead in the NL East, and one game ahead of the third-place Washington Nationals.

On The Mend

Diamondbacks shortstop Cliff Pennington was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday following successful surgery on a partially torn ligament in his left thumb.

Roster Moves

Arizona recalled shortstop Didi Gregorius from Triple-A Reno in response to Cliff Pennington being placed on the 15-day disabled list. In his first game Wednesday night, Gregorius went three for six, with a home run and an RBI.

Up-Town Stilling Rolling In Atlanta?

With the first pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks select shortstop Justin Upton...

Then, just a year and a half ago, the Diamondbacks traded the face of their franchise, their star outfielder and all of his potential, Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves. So how has is worked out for the former star prospect?

Well, he has essentially been the same player as he was in Arizona: talented, inconsistent, frustrating, but ultimately productive.

Upton found the median between his 2011 and 2012 production last season, hitting .263/.354/.464 with 27 home runs and 70 RBIs, but did strike out a career-high 161 times and saw essentially no production on the base paths (eight stolen bases). This year has been a slight improvement as he has taken up more of the bulk of the Braves' lineup, hitting .294/.371/.557 with 13 home runs and 33 RBIs, picking up his stolen base production with six swiped bags through his first 55 games. He lead the team in batting average, home runs, and RBIs.

So is he the same player? Do you feel the same about Upton as before? It's up to you to decide, but no matter what he has been productive.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Friday 6:40 PT: RHP Julio Teheran (4-2, 1.66 ERA, 3.67 FIP) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (1-6, 4.65 ERA, 3.87 FIP)

Teheran has become the ace of the talented Braves staff despite being just 23 years old, as he leads the majors with 11 quality starts. He gave up two runs in 7.1 innings in his last outing against the Marlins, snapping his 15 inning scoreless streak while picking up the win. After appearing to turn things around in the beginning of May, McCarthy has struggled in his last two outings. He has given up five runs in each of his last two starts, including lasting just 4.1 innings in picking up a loss against the Cincinnati Reds.

Game 2, Saturday 7:10 PT: RHP Ervin Santana (5-2, 4.10 ERA, 3.16 FIP) vs. LHP Wade Miley (3-6, 4.85 ERA, 4.56 FIP)

It's been hot and cold for Santana so far in the 2014. After posting a 1.99 ERA through his first six starts, he has posted a 1-2 record with a 7.83 ERA. He broke out a quality start in his last outing, giving up three runs through seven innings in a win against the Miami Marlins. Miley has been a hot mess of late, and has not picked up a win since May 10th against the White Sox. He has, however, done well with strikeouts in punching out 20 hitters through his last 13 innings.

Game 3, Sunday 1:10 PT: RHP Aaron Harang (3-3, 3.77 ERA, 2.58 FIP) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (4-0, 3.32 ERA, 5.00 FIP)

Harang has put together a solid bounce back year so far in Atlanta, and has given up two runs or fewer in eight of his ten starts so far in 2014. He gave up two runs in 6.2 innings in picking up a no decision in his last start against the Miami Marlins. Anderson has put together a historical pace so far, becoming the firs player in Arizona history to win their first four career starts. He gave up one run over six innings, giving up just four hits in picking up a win against the Rockies.

Series Pick'em

Even with how well Arizona looked in their last series, it seems as if Arizona has been allergic to "D'Backs Swing" when at home, looking much more like the team they were in April when playing at Chase Field. The Braves propose yet another challenge, as Justin Upton and Co. return to wreak havoc against the red-hot D-Backs. Teheran is just too much, and Wade Miley has just been too inconsistent to really expect anything from the first two games. I've picked against Chase Anderson before and gotten burned, so I'll ride with him here. Diamondbacks take one of three games.

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