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Atlanta at San Diego Preview Article


Man Crush on Kyle Guy
Braves In Need Of Prayers Ahead Of Soiree With Padres

Atlanta (54-37) at San Diego (45-45)

When: 10:10 p.m. ET

MLB Pick: Padres ML

Dallas Keuchel (2-2, 3.60 ERA) makes his fifth start for Atlanta. He's done well in Atlanta, but struggled in two road starts, where he's allowed six earned runs (including three homers) in 10.2 innings combined.

Keuchel is a low-velocity southpaw. His fastest pitch is his fastball at 89 mph and he very rarely throws it. Instead, he leans on his sinker with 53.98 percent frequency, which is more than he ever has in his eight-year career. Keuchel's reliance on his sinker makes him relatively predictable. He throws it more than any other pitch as a first pitch, with the batter ahead, and in every other scenario.

With his sinker, Keuchel induces ground balls with 18.57 percent frequency. To encourage this result, he aims to keep his sinker along the borders and especially the lower regions of the strike zone. His sinker's strong horizontal movement makes it elusive, so that batters are more likely to only make soft contact. Because Keuchel does these things pretty well, he's yielding a 0.00 ERA in the first time through the batting order. However, because he's so predictable, opponents tend to figure him out. In the second time through the order, he yields a 5.63 ERA.

Overall stats show that lefties give the Padres trouble. But the season is so long that overall statistics increasingly lose relevance. It doesn't matter how the Padres hit against lefties back in Aprll, but how they fare against them more recently. Since June, the Padres rank second in slugging .782 against the sinker from lefties. This effectivity has continued so far in July.

Righties are batting .284 against Keuchel. So watch out for Hunter Renfroe, who looks to build off a solid end to his first half. He's slugging .804 against lefties. Manny Machado also slugs .804 against lefties.

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Padre starter Dinelson Lamet (0-1, 5.40 ERA) has a poor ERA, but he's only made one start so far this year. His seven strikeouts to only two walks against the Dodgers provide a positive sign.

Whereas Keuchel leans so heavily on one pitch, Lamet has two: his fastball and his slider. Both pitches are effective with their heat. His fastball averages 95 and his slider 85. His fastball enjoys moderate arm-side motion, which is an encouraging trait against Atlanta's lefties because his fastball will be running away from them. His slider is his favorite weapon against righties. It doesn't have much vertical movement, which makes it harder for batters to track, but shows above-average lateral motion.

Moreover, he keeps the vertical and horizontal release points of his pitches very similar to each other, which keeps the batter guessing as to which pitch he's delivering. Based on percentages, he's also good at distributing his pitches throughout different parts of the strike zone.

SLG-xSLG is a metric that compares what a lineup's actual slugging rate is with what it should be based on quality of contact. This metric indicates that Atlanta is the seventh-most overachieving team against the high-velocity (93-98 mph) fastball from righties. While showing dominant overall numbers against this pitch, the Braves are finally beginning to regress against it statistically. In this month, they rank 18th in slugging against it. Lamet's fastball will be useful especially against Atlanta's most dangerous lefties Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman. His ability to lean on this pitch separates himself from Keuchel tonight.

Moreover, with a fresh bullpen, overall bullpen numbers are irrelevant (although San Diego leads Atlanta in FIP, which is like ERA, but factors out fielding). Craig Stammen has 19 holds and Kirby Yates, if he'll be necessary tonight, has 30 saves. The two enjoy a combined 14-inning scoreless streak and will secure the victory for San Diego.


Man Crush on Kyle Guy
Corny reference to Padre (father i.e. priest) in the title.

Back to baseball! (only article this weekend).
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