Ben Sheets may already be the Atlanta Braves’ best – and
thriftiest – acquisition.
Sheets looks to win a fourth start in a row for the first time
in over four years and help the Braves extend their win streak to a
season-high eight Wednesday night against the new-look Miami
Atlanta (59-44) made one major deal prior to Tuesday’s
non-waiver trade deadline, acquiring left-hander Paul Maholm and
outfielder Reed Johnson and cash from the Chicago Cubs for
right-handers Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino, a top prospect who
had season-ending Tommy John surgery in April.
Maholm is expected to start Saturday against Houston after Tommy
Hanson was put on the disabled list with a strained lower back
Sheets (3-0, 0.50 ERA) has already made a major impact for
Atlanta, which has won seven straight for the second time in July
to pull within 2 1/2 games of NL East-leading Washington.
He’s won all three of his starts after signing a minor league
contract July 1. The right-hander had been sidelined for nearly two
years due to a torn flexor tendon and torn ligament in his throwing
Sheets last won four consecutive starts with Milwaukee from
April 6-29, 2008, and he pulled closer to matching that run with
Friday’s 6-1 win over Philadelphia. He allowed his only run of the
season and yielded six hits in six innings.
“I mean, I’m on a very good team and the guys are doing the
heavy pulling,” Sheets said. “I’m just trying to put in a little
two cents myself, trying to help us out.”
He’ll now face the Marlins (47-56) for the first time since
fanning seven in six scoreless innings of a win on June 3,
Atlanta has won eight of the last nine meetings with Miami,
taking the first two of this four-game set by a combined 15-3 score
after Tuesday’s 7-1 victory.
Brian McCann has three hits and two RBIs in this series,
including a solo homer Tuesday. He’s connected for half of his 18
homers while driving in 21 runs over the last 18 games.
“I’ve been feeling good for a while,” said McCann, who owns a
.338 average with seven homers and 17 RBIs in his last 17 home
meetings with the Marlins.
Miami’s deals prior to Tuesday’s deadline have it looking toward
The Marlins sent reliever Edward Mujica to St. Louis for minor
league third baseman Zack Cox, a first-round draft pick in 2010.
First baseman Gaby Sanchez, who lost his job earlier this year and
was sent to the minors, was dealt to Pittsburgh for minor league
outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick.
President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Miami is
building a nucleus for the future. The club had already traded star
third baseman Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and sent
infielder Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez to
Detroit last week.
Guillen has made another change, moving struggling Carlos
Zambrano to the bullpen and replacing him with Wade LeBlanc (1-1,
1.15), who is expected to get his first start.
Zambrano went 1-6 with a 7.62 ERA in his last nine starts before
allowing one run with three strikeouts in 1 2-3 innings of relief
in Monday’s 8-2 loss to Atlanta.
LeBlanc, who had made 11 relief appearances this season, is
17-21 with a 4.47 ERA in 52 career starts over the past four years
with San Diego.
The left-hander lost his only career start against the Braves on
July 20, 2010, allowing two runs with four walks in six innings at
Turner Field. He’s faced them twice out of the bullpen this year,
yielding two runs in 2 2-3 innings.