The Atlanta Braves take on the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight in a game that will feature two talented young right-handed pitchers: Jair Jurrjens for the Braves and Chad Billingsley for the Dodgers.
Billingsley profiles as a strikeout pitcher, averaging 8.5 K/9 IP this season and 9.0K/9 IP in 2008. But control of the strike zone has eluded him of late, walking 11 batters in his last 26 1/3 innings. Much like Jurrjens, Billingsley is following up a stellar season in 2008 with something of a step back in 2009 from a skills perspective (-.5 K/9, +.4 BB/9, -5 GB% this year relative to last).
But it's been Jurrjens who has picked things up of late, with lights-out performances in his last two starts (13 2/3 IP, 14 K, 2 BB, 3 ER). Jair will need to be in top form on Sunday night if the Braves are to shut down the Dodgers' formidable bats. Los Angeles leads the National Leage in On Base Percentage vs. Right Handed Pitchers, with a line of .271/.344/.403. It's worth noting that those numbers include 50 games in which Manny Ramirez did not play.