Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles played high school ball in Hartsville, S.C., and resides in Columbia, S.C. -- all strong Braves footholds. Although he was with the Astros when they made a trip to Atlanta once, he has never pitched at Turner Field.
Before Lyles (5-1, 3.50 ERA) knew he would be pitching Friday night against the Braves and righty Gavin Floyd (0-1, 2.41), his family and friends had figured it would be a special evening.
"I'll have a big group there," Lyles said. "I'm expecting to leave 30 or 40 tickets. I've heard maybe a bus or two is coming. I guess that's not on me, ticket-wise. I'm looking for a big crowd from my parts of the woods.
"My family and friends told me I was lining up for that day. It'll work out perfectly. I'll throw Friday and get the next two days to hang out with family and friends."
Lyles hopes to set a strong tone for the Rockies' nine-game, 10-day road trip, with three-game sets at Atlanta, Philadelphia and Cleveland. He hopes to rebound from his first poor outing this season -- six runs, five hits and six walks in 3 1/3 innings of a loss to the Padres at home on Saturday night. Lyles said that night he would forget it quickly. Even without the homecoming to look forward to, Lyles needed to wash away Saturday's game.
"I haven't thought about that game since a day or two after it happened, because I've been focusing on the Atlanta Braves and their lineup," Lyles said. "In order for me not to have another bad outing, I have to get those guys out."
Floyd doesn't have much history with the Rockies. He is 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA in three career starts against Colorado, but he hasn't faced them since 2011, as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
Rockies: The time will come
The Rockies are dealing with the enviable problem of deciding when to promote talented starting pitching prospects who are ready or close to ready to join the rotation.
The speculation these days centers on right-handers Eddie Butler, a supplemental first-round pick in 2012, and Jon Gray, a first-round pick last summer, who are impressing at Double-A Tulsa.
It has not reached the point where the Rockies are seriously discussing whether it's time. However, as long as both stay healthy, the time could come.
Manager Walt Weiss, who watched both in Spring Training, sees Butler as closer to ready.
"If [Butler] is not [ready], he's real close," Weiss said. "I don't think it's a lot of development left. It's just the experience from being here, and that's obviously last. As far as developing a pitch or developing more command, I think most of that is behind him.
"Gray coming into this season had only pitched half a season, so not as much experience professionally. But he looks the part."
The timing of inserting Butler or Gray into the rotation also will be interesting. Will it be when the rotation springs a clear leak or simply because the prospect is too good to deny?
"It can happen either way," Weiss said. "Sometimes it's out of necessity. Sometimes those guys down there force their way here."
Braves: Rockies spark fond memories
The Atlanta Braves have very pleasant memories of the Colorado Rockies' last trip to Turner Field, last July 29-Aug. 1.
The Braves not only swept the Rockies, but outscored them 40-13 and outhit them 55-36. The last three games were particularly lopsided, as Atlanta outscored Colorado by a resounding 31-5 margin, and outhit them 43-21. First baseman Freddie Freeman was particularly lethal, hitting .529 for the series (9-for-17), scoring eight runs and driving in six more.
As big for Atlanta will be who is not around for Colorado. That is first baseman Todd Helton, a career .330 hitter against the Braves, with nine homers and 57 RBIs. Six of those homers and 29 of the RBIs came at the Ted.
• The Braves' Jason Heyward extended his hit streak to 10 during Thursday night's game against the Brewers. He is the first Braves player with a double-digit games hit streak since Justin Upton hit in 13 straight last July 28-Aug. 9. Heyward's longest streak is 12 games in June 2012.
• Lyles hasn't pitched at Turner Field, but he faced the Braves once while with the Astros at Minute Maid Park and held them to two runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings of a no-decision on June 11, 2011. The Braves won the game, 6-3.
Freeman went 1-for-3 with a double against Lyles, which figures. Freeman handles the Rockies to the tune of .365 (31-for-85) with a .455 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, six doubles, a triple and 25 RBIs in 22 games.
• The Rockies' Justin Morneau is just 7-for-33 against Floyd. However, three of those hits have been home runs, and he has 10 RBIs and three walks against five strikeouts. Michael Cuddyer has hit .333 with one homer and six RBIs, with eight strikeouts, against Floyd.
• Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez said his swollen left index finger, an injury that caused him to leave Wednesday night's 5-1 loss to the Giants in the eighth inning, felt better Thursday. However, he declined to speculate if he thought he'd be able to play Friday night.
"It depends how I feel tomorrow when I wake up," Gonzalez said. "It's a little better. We did treatment during the game [Thursday, a game suspended because of rain with the Rockies and Giants tied at 2]. I know it's going to be fine."