The Braves (70-64) open a three game series at home against the Marlins (65-67) Friday night, which is good news on multiple fronts.
Ervin Santana (13-7, 3.60 ERA / 3.31 FIP) takes the mound for the Braves, looking to extend his streak of second half quality starts. Since the All-Star break, Santana is 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA (3.34 FIP) in 8 starts, and is averaging almost a strikeout per inning (52 in 52.1 IP). He’s also won his last six starts at home, posting a 2.66 ERA during that time.
In addition, some of the Marlins’ better hitters have struggled against Santana. MVP favorite Giancarlo Stanton is 1 for 10 with 6 strikeouts against Santana. Casey McGehee is 1 for 11 with 4 strikeouts. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 3 for 16, although one hit was a HR. Pesky troublemaker Christian Yelich is hitting .482 against Santana, and has yet to hit an infield pop in his career (h/t Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs).
The Marlins counter with sneaky right-hander Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.82 ERA / 3.87 FIP) who has been getting better each season (last 3 years FIP: 5.49 / 4.27 / 3.87). Freddie Freeman has struggled against the Marlins (.059), and against Koehler in particular (0 for 10). Jason Heyward is 4 for 14 with a triple, while Evan Gattis is hitting .556 against Koehler.
The Braves are running out of time to make up room in both the division and Wild Card races. While the Marlins are a (barely) sub-.500 team on the season, they actually have a winning record against Atlanta. Some of that damage was done earlier in the season when the Marlins were on an unbelievable tear at home, but if the Braves want to play in October, they need to make every game count.