The Bucs open up a weekend series tonight against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. After an astonishing 14-year reign as division champs, the Braves fell to third in 2006 on their way to a disappointing 79-83 campaign. The main culprits in the streak-ending season were a flimsy bullpen and a questionable rotation behind the ageless John Smoltz. The Braves appear stronger on both fronts in 2007. The bullpen has been fortified by offseason trades for power relievers Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, and Tim Hudson has rediscovered a spliter that played a large role in his success as a member of the Oakland Athletics. In addition, the back end of the Braves rotation has some interesting (though) unproven arms in Kyle Davies, Chuck James, and Anthony Lerew. Luckily, the Pirates won't see Smoltz (still nasty after all these years) or Hudson, who is off to a torrid start.
Tale of the Tape
Runs Scored: 168 (T-5th in the NL)
Runs Allowed: 147 (T-8th in NL)
Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.