A couple of updates: As you’ve heard, the Braves will NOT deploy Jair Jurrjens tonight. They’ll hand the ball to Brandon Beachy, of whom you’ve never heard. And — here’s the good news — I’m in Philadelphia and will be monitoring developments from the press box at Citizens Bank Park, and this development induced Bobby Cox to pause during his pregame media briefing and say, “Mark Bradley is here. He’s our good-luck charm.” (Which I’m not, but never mind.)
Here we see two ways of approaching a regular-season series. Charlie Manuel, the homespun Philly manager, has set his rotation as if these were the playoffs: Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. Bobby Cox, the greatest regular-season manager ever, has chosen not to tweak his rotation.
Thus will the Braves attempt to counter the Phillies’ Big Three with Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor and Tommy Hanson. This isn’t a bad threesome — and a lefty like Minor could be disproportionately effective against the lefty-heavy Phils — but it doesn’t include Tim Hudson, who has been the Braves’ best pitcher in 2010, or Derek Lowe, who has been the best in September.
To have expected Cox to differentiate from the methods of a lifetime would have been to forget who this man is: He’s the man who started Eddie Perez, Tony Graffanino, Gerald Williams and Danny Bautista in Game 3 of an NLCS the Braves trailed 2-0. (The year was 1998, the opponent San Diego.)
Cox isn’t a man to differentiate from the norm, which is why his teams assume such an even disposition. And also, I would submit, why the Braves could go to New York and sweep the Mets after losing a home series to the Nationals. Because this team does not panic.
That said, I’m having a tough time seeing the Braves winning this series. I don’t think they’ll take the collar, but I think they’ll leave Philly four games back and essentially playing for the wild card. Which isn’t the worst thing that could happen.
And here’s where I ask you kind folks: What do you think? Braves sweep? Braves get swept? Braves and Phils split? (Hee, hee. Little joke)
Both teams, it must be noted, enter on a high. The Braves come off their big showing in the Big Apple, capped by Derrek Lee’s grand slam. The Phillies have won seven in a row, capped by Jayson Werth’s walk-off home run Sunday. We’ve waited a while for these teams to meet again, and here it is. And now we’ll see what’s what.