Pitching, especially starting, figured to be the team strength. That may happen yet.
After an uneven April, the club is 6th in the NL in team ERA in May. Over the past seven games, minus Eric Stults, the team ERA is 2.41. Things are looking up on the hill.
The Braves have been generally solid defensively all season. Only four NL teams have committed fewer errors than the home team’s 22. And by some of the “advanced metrics” on Baseball-Reference.com, the Braves are among the NL’s best, as far as I can tell. On to the grades.
Shelby Miller (pictured), A. The only thing keeping him from an A+ is a couple of early starts in which his pitch count mounted early and he didn’t go past the sixth inning. He’s the only guy in the bigs with two complete games and they’re both shutouts. So far, Miller has pitched like a legit ace. He’s top five in the NL and top 10 in MLB in pretty much every important pitching category.
Julio Teheran, C+. He has not been the guy we expected, but he hasn’t been awful. His last start was easily his best, so I look for good things from here. In that game, his velocity was off a tick but it didn’t matter, as his command was excellent.
Alex Wood, C+. Much the same as Teheran, though Wood has been much improved in his past two outings. Hitters have hit above .300 off him. That clearly needs to change.
Mike Foltynewicz, B. Sure, he’s had a bumpy outing or two. But his emergence has been one of the brightest spots this season. He was dominant yesterday, and considering his rough spring he’ s progressed surprisingly quickly. I guess Wren’s brother hasn’t seen him pitch.
Stulthill, F. Kudos to Fredi for expeditiously excising these two from the rotation. It’s a shame the Bravos have to pay Cahill $5.5 million this year. That’s more than the combined salaries of the entire current rotation. Talk about a bargain.
Williams Perez, I. Just one start but it wasn’t bad for a big league debut.
Jason Grilli, B+. He’s not been flawless but he’s been a pleasant surprise all in all. I’d never suggest it will last, but so far he’s been better than Kimbrel this season.
Jim Johnson, A. Other than one bad week, he’s been solid. He allowed 5 earned runs in three straight appearances in mid-April. In 19 other outings he’s given up just one.
Luis Avilan, B-. Avi’s been pretty solid. His WHIP is under one and he’s allowed just a .209 batting average (.171 to righties, .250 LH). He’s never put up big K numbers and he’s not doing so this year, either.
Brandon Cuniff,B. He’s allowed only two hits but 8 walks in 15-1/3 IP. Cody Martin, C. Started great. I think he’ll be valuable long-term.
Nick Massett, I. We’ll see. He’s a veteran, true. Not a particularly good one, though.
Fredi, B+. I realize many think it’s a complete accident any time Fredi manages a win. But I like the way he’s juggled lineups and quickly pulled the plug on failures such as EY Jr. and Stultshill. Bottom line: he has this very flawed team over .500 on Memorial Day.
Roger McDowell, B+. This guy is underrated. Cahill and Stults just suck. That ain’t Roger’s fault. The rest of the staff is generally shaping up.
Kevin Seitzer, A. His work with Maybin has been impressive. And Peterson seems to be progressing.
Defense Just a couple quick notes. Andrelton has ben his usual brilliant self, for the most part. Peterson only has a couple errors but he’s been uneven at times. The Latin Chris Woodward (Callaspo) has the range of the statues outside the ballpark, and similar hands, come to think of it. Bethancourt has been the biggest disappointment with the glove. He has not blocked nor framed pitches well at all.