It's a showdown between two rookie lefties on Friday's Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. Manny Banuelos of the Atlanta Braves will be squaring off with another leftie from St. Louis Cardinals in the person of Tim Cooney at the start of their three-game series.
Friday's match up will be the first game for the Braves' 10-game road trip that will take the team through St. Louis, Baltimore and Philadelphia. The Cardinals will have 10 games scheduled in their home turf beginning with the series opener against the Braves and a makeup match against Kansas City on Thursday.
Things to know on Friday's Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals:
Banuelos (1-1, 1.08 ERA) has a fastball that tops out around 90 mph, but it's his changeup that has been effective in his three big league starts. It comes in just a little above 80 mph and, mixed in with an occasional curve, it has kept opponents off stride. Banuelos has had some problems with command, but he hasn't allowed more than one earned run in any of his starts.
Cooney (0-0, 3.33 ERA) has averaged nearly a strikeout an inning in his five Major League starts, relying on a fastball that averages just under 90 mph, a change, a curve and a slider. He went 5 2/3 innings and struck out seven without giving up a run in a no-decision against the Mets in his last outing. The Cards lost that game in 18 innings.
The opener marks the first meeting of the season between the two longtime National League rivals, so it also represents Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward's first regular-season game against his former team. The Cards own a 271-240 edge against the Braves since they moved to Atlanta in 1966. The two teams will wrap up the 2015 regular season with a three-game set at Turner Field on Oct. 2-4.
Meanwhile, With the non-waiver Trade Deadline quickly approaching, the Braves are continuing to evaluate what kind of value they might receive for Jim Johnson, Kelly Johnson and some their other veterans who will be eligible for free agency at the end of this season.
Even if Jason Grilli had not suffered a season-ending left Achilles tendon injury, the Braves likely weren't going to make a big splash on this month's trade market unless they were offered attractive value for either Cameron Maybin or Julio Teheran.
There is still a chance Maybin or Teheran could be dealt. But it seems more likely that Atlanta will wait until the offseason to determine whether to keep either of these players or use at least one to gain a power bat -- an asset that would be easier to obtain when more teams are in the mix this winter.
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You can check out the official MLB website to get a complete list of current standings and scores for the regular 2015 season.