Padres vs. Braves Series Preview

The Padres are flying high right now as they welcome Atlanta to San Diego. They are winners of seven straight. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Padres have won seven in a row. They are 11 games under .500, a better record than the following teams; the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Royals, the Marlins, the Twins, and the Rockies. It's the little things we can celebrate in a lost season, guys. With a few more wins, the Padres will be dangerously close to .500. They may tease us and get our hopes so high, we can surely only expect our dreams to be crushed. That's right, our hopes and dreams lie in .500 season. Don't judge us outsiders!

San Diego did a lot to hurt the Diamondbacks' play-off hopes with this sweep, and they will look to hurt the Braves hopes as well. The only problem is the Braves just waxed the floor with San Diego, winning three of four back in mid-August. San Diego gets a shot at redemption on their home turf.

Oh, and by the way, San Diego is just one game under .500 at home. A sweep of the Braves gives them a winning record at the Dreaded Petco National Park. Atlanta, on the other hand, is well above .500. They trail the Nationals by just 4.5 games, and they lead the Wild Card. San Diego will get a shot to put a damper on the Tomahawk Chop.

Game One - 7:05 PM PT

Paul Maholm vs. Casey Kelly

Maholm has put together a surprisingly good season. He has a 3.47 ERA, and he dominated the Padres on August 15th. He tossed seven innings, allowed just five hits, and gave up just one run. He was better than he should have been The Padres were on a roll when they ran into Maholm last time. They're on a roll again. Interestingly, this will be Maholm's first start at Petco. This is a good thing for San Diego. He will be so impressed with Petco's beauty, he won't be able to find the strike zone. He will be so intimidated by Mr. Padre standing off in the grass within the Park in the Park, he will be shaking in his cleats. He will be so flabbergasted by a warehouse serving as a foul pole that he will allow countless home runs to bound of the facade of said warehouse. These are my predictions, therefore they will be reality.

Casey Kelly will make his Major League debut in game one of this series. It's an exciting moment for Padres fans who have been waiting since Adrian Gonzalez was traded to Boston to see Kelly pitch in the Majors. Kelly has made just three starts for Double-A San Antonio this season, but that is in large part due to an elbow injury he suffered earlier in the year. Kelly was ready for his Triple-A promotion when he suffered the injury. Now, he gets to skip Triple-A altogether and will see the Show a week or so earlier than if the Padres had waited until rosters expand. In his three starts at Double-A, Kelly posted a 3.47 ERA. Kelly will have to battle the expectations levied on him by fans like you and - well - by me. I've tried to temper my expectations after what happened with Anthony Rizzo, but Kelly is the number one prospect in the Padres' organization. Tomorrow will be an exciting game no matter the outcome. When Joe Weiland made his debut, excitement was high. With Kelly, excitement should be through the roof, or at least through the marine layer.

Game Two - 7:05 PM PT

Kris Medlen vs. Andrew Werner

Kris Medlen has been good this season. The fact is, if you pitch for the Braves, you're good. Medlen has started five games since being promoted to the Braves starting rotation. In those starts, he has given up just three runs. For the season, Medlen has a 1.86 ERA. Even worse, Medlen tossed a complete game shut-out against the Padres in his last time being pitted against the Friars of San Diego. Perhaps more interesting than Medlen's on-field performance is the fact that he is a liar as evidenced by this Tweet - or at very least, he is a leader on-er:

As for Werner, he was pleasantly surprising in his first start of his Major League career. He went six innings against the Pirates, allowed four hits, and gave up two runs. If Werner can continue his success, it will be one of the more remarkable stories out there. He was un-drafted and signed as an amateur free agent with the Padres in 2010. He played Independent League ball prior to that. Check out TheThinGwynn's piece on Werner from a couple weeks ago. Done reading it? Good, then there's nothing else I have to say. Except this; with all the injuries to the pitching staff, it's been exciting to see a lot of the young pitchers make their debuts this season. Werner is no different.

Game Three - 3:35 PM PT

Tommy Hanson vs. Eric Stults

Hanson only recently returned from the DL. He had been sidelined with a strained back. There was a concern that the Braves would have to go to a six-man rotation when he came off the DL, but Ben Sheets' injury cleared things up. In his first start back from the DL, Hanson gave up three runs against the Dodgers. However, in his last start, Hanson got shelled. He gave up five runs (four earned) in 4 1/3 innings. On the season, Hanson has a 4.40 ERA. Against the Padres, though, Hanson has been fantastic. He has made five starts in his career against San Diego. In those starts, he's posted a 2.01 ERA. At Petco, he's made three starts to the tune of a 1.42 ERA. So, yeah, he's been good.

But so has Stults. Eric Stults has been the go-to guy of late. Stults went seven innings and allowed just three hits against the Diamondbacks in his last start. He did not allow a run and lowered his ERA to 2.69 on the season. Pretty good for a 32-year old who has never posted an ERA better than 3.49 in a season. Stults actually picked up the Padres' only win in their recent trip to Atlanta. He went 7 2/3 innings, gave up five hits, and allowed just one run. Stults has made four starts at Petco and has a 3.40 ERA.

The Score

I like the Padres for two out of three. I'm leaning toward the Padres extending their winning streak to nine before dropping the finale, but Stults really has been good. This is a tough call, but seeing both Kelly and Werner in this series will make it one of the best series of the year. And for all you out there desperately looking up the schedule, I KNOW this is a three-game series. Not four. Three!

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