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Colorado Rockies face must-lose games against the Atlanta Braves

Having barely inched into first place in the reverse standings, the Rockies travel to Atlanta for a three-game series against the Braves.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a road trip where they lost all seven games they played, the Atlanta Braves host the Colorado Rockies for a three-game series that could have a major impact on who has the first overall selection in the 2016 MLB Draft.

The Braves have been slightly less successful than the Rockies in the race for first this year. Their recipe for success is quite similar to the Rockies. The Braves have a bullpen that couldn't even save a game when spotted a four-run lead, something they've managed to do six times this season, the most in the majors.

The Rockies are really going to be challenged for the place at the the top of the reverse standings with the Braves being one of six teams within two losses of each other in the race for first pick.

Braves Power(less) Rankings

  1. Pitching: Once adjusted for park factors, the Braves bullpen actually checks in with worse numbers than even the Rockies bullpen. The Braves bullpen has a 113 ERA- compared to the Rockies' 111 ERA-, they also have two more blown saves than the Rockies and have received one loss on their record. The Braves starting pitching hasn't been much better, though they are better than the Rockies starters. (fWAR Rankings  -- MLB: 29 NL: 14)
  2. Offense: The Braves meager offense has managed to hit only 77 home runs this year, by far the lowest number in the majors. The one positive the Braves offense does have is that they don't strike out, holding the lowest strikeout percentage in the National League. (fWAR Rankings  -- MLB: 25 NL: 13)
  3. Defense: Overall the Braves have a very average defense with a grand total of 0.1 Defensive WAR as a team.  They can thank Andrelton Simmons for that ranking, because the rest of the team isn't that good. (fWAR Rankings  -- MLB: 16 NL: 8)

Who (not) to watch: Hitter

Andrelton Simmons is probably the best fielding shortstop in all of baseball and, like Nolan Arenado, is someone to watch and appreciate even when he's on the other team.  However, when he's up to bat, good things rarely happen. Sporting an 83 RC+ would be bad enough, except he's also in the top 10 in baseball at grounding into double plays with 16.

Who (not) to watch: Pitcher

Normally the focus would be on Shelby Miller and his 5-10 record despite a very nice 2.50 ERA.  Instead, the focus today is on Mike Foltynewicz who is proof that the Rockies are not the only team to have a highly touted pitcher struggle once he's called up.  Ranked as the highest pitching prospect in the Braves system after being acquired from the Astros last year, Foltynewicz has struggled to a 6.06 ERA in 81.2 IP this year.  Just imagine how bad that would be at Coors Field!

Probable Pitchers

Monday, Aug. 24, 5:10 p.m. MT: De La Rosa (7-5) vs. Teheran (8-6)

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 5:10 p.m.: Bettis (5-4) vs. Foltynewicz (4-5)

Wednesday, Aug. 26. 5:10 p.m.: Flande (3-1) vs. Miller (5-10)

For more information, check out the best source for Atlanta Braves news, Talking Chop.