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Updated: April 21, 2010, 2:34 AM ET

Roy vs. Tim makes Wednesday a Halladay

Boone By Aaron Boone
ESPN
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Wednesday night's matchup between Roy Halladay and Tim Hudson (7:05 p.m., ESPN/ESPN3.com) should bring plenty of excitement to Turner Field. There was a lot of buzz about the Braves coming out of spring training. Many people jumped on their bandwagon and felt they could compete with the Phillies in the NL East. But if Atlanta is really looking to prove something, going against one of baseball's best pitchers is a great early-season measuring stick.

[+] EnlargeHudson
AP Photo/Rich AddicksIf the Braves are to contend in the NL East, they'll need a strong season -- and a full season -- from Tim Hudson.

Halladay's arrival in Philadelphia couldn't have gotten off to a much smoother start. He's 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA, and has struck out 21 against just two walks over 24 innings of work. As a player, there are pitchers you face that are just filthy from a stuff standpoint. Even though Halladay's stuff is great, he stands out because of so much more than that. Sometimes it seems like he's just too good for the 60 feet, 6 inches.

Halladay can really do anything he wants with the baseball. He throws four different pitches in every quadrant of the strike zone with tremendous command. And he's essentially this generation's throwback in his ability to go so deep into games. He's had nine complete games in each of the past two seasons and already has one this year. The Phillies' ace is a master of his craft, and it should be fun to see how the Braves' lineup handles him, particularly rookie sensation Jason Heyward.

Heyward has taken the baseball world by storm, batting .298 with 16 RBIs in his first 13 major league games. And all he did Tuesday night was hit a two-out, solo homer in the ninth against the Phillies to send the game to extra innings. And that comes after his two-run single in the ninth erased a one-run Braves deficit and gave Atlanta a walk-off win against the Rockies on Sunday. So, yes, he's lived up to the hype and has already delivered in the clutch. When he comes up to bat and you have the television on, you stop what you're doing and watch. It will be even more intriguing when he steps to the plate to face Halladay for the first time.

On the other side of Wednesday's pitching matchup is Braves starter Tim Hudson. Hudson pitched really well in his first game against San Francisco (seven innings, two runs) and OK in his next outing at San Diego (5 2/3 innings, two runs, but five walks). Of course, he won the start against the Padres and walked away with a no-decision against the Giants. The Braves are going to need a strong performance against a powerful Phillies offense. As Hudson continues his journey back from Tommy John surgery, Atlanta is hoping he can return to the pitcher who was so dominant in Oakland, where he won 15 or more games in a season four times. If the Braves really are going to have a chance to compete with the reigning NL East champs, he is going to have to play a big role and become a reliable piece of their rotation.

Between Halladay, Heyward and Hudson, Wednesday night's game is definitely one to watch.

Aaron Boone is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."

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