Tonight’s line-up: 1 Heyward RF 2. BUpton CF 3. Freeman 1B 4. Johnson 3B 5. JUpton LF 6. Uggla 2B 7. Doumit C 8.Simmons SS 9. Hale P
So it didn’t take long for Fredi to make his first confounding move of 2014. Andrelton had 2 hits last night in the 2-hole, upping his BA to .321. He’s yet to strike out this year and is the only Brave non-pitcher, besides Freddie, with an OBP above .300. B.J., meanwhile, has 13 K’s and is one of three Braves regulars yet to draw a walk, along with Gattis and Uggla.
Besides the offense, I’m a bit concerned about the lack of depth in the bullpen. Jordan Walden can be dominant but is too fragile and inconsistent to depend on, while Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas have yet to inspire much confidence. Hale and Harang might end up playing bigger roles than expected as relievers after Minor and Floyd return.
There’s a movement building to eliminate wins as a metric for starting pitchers, one that’s come 20 years too late for Anthony Young. The former Met hurler was 5-35 over three years in Flushing despite a virtually identical ERA and WHIP to that posted by Russ Ortiz in 2003, when the ex-Giant went 21-7 in his first year as a Brave.
Speaking of hapless milestones, could this be the game B.J. surpasses the .200 mark? He’s fresh off his best series as a Brave and bats lead-off tonight in place of Jordan Schafer, who’s resting a sore back. Evan Gattis is back with the team and starting in LF after a productive weekend in Buford (six hits, including a HR and two doubles in three games).
1. B. Upton CF 2. J. Upton RF 3. Freeman 1B 4. McCann C 5. C. Johnson 3B 6. Gattis LF 7. Uggla 2B 8. Simmons SS 9. Medlen P
Random thoughts around the league:
Did you hear about “Conservative Hero” Bryce Harper getting called out for dogging it on the base paths? Don’t recall anyone ever having to do that to “union member” Jason Heyward.
Here’s how I’d use the relievers the rest of the way. Avoid having pitchers appear on consecutive days, and if it does happen give said pitcher two days off before using them again. The Braves ‘pen is mightier than anyone else’s and must be handled with extreme care over the next month if that advantage is to be maintained.
In a five-game series I’d rather take my chances with the Cards or Reds than the Pirates or Dodgers. Wainwright and Latos are intimidating but Liriano and Kershaw are dominating and left-handed. Speaking of the Bucs, while former Brave Jeff Locke has struggled since the All-Star break, Charlie Morton has picked up the slack with a 2.90 ERA in the second half. FW’s track record on trades is outstanding but that deal, which brought Nate McLouth to Atlanta, now stands as his worst.
Terence Moore can be an easy target, but Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk offers a lazy rebuttal to the former AJC scribe’s assertion that throwing more often would result in fewer Tommy John surgeries. Calcaterra, a big Braves fan, fails to address the track records of Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz, who routinely surpassed 200 innings per season while throwing regularly between starts. Smoltzie was the only one of the three to go on the DL in the 90s and he didn’t miss significant time until the 2000 season. I don’t know if pitchers need to throw more or less, but the Sain/Mazzone method seems to indicate it can’t hurt. And yes, I’m aware Mad Dog and Tommy G. had fluid motions and weren’t particularly hard throwers, but you could say the same about Medlen and Beachy. Johnny Sain’s track record shouldn’t be dismissed just because Terence Moore brought him up.
Sure would be interesting to see Chris Christie take on Yankees AND Cubs fan Hillary Clinton in 2016. “If there’s any team that I hate almost as much as the Yankees, it’s the Philadelphia Phillies,” Christie said recently. He added Ruben Amaro is an “awful” general manager, and Charlie Manuel’s firing was handled “disgracefully.” But Christie is not a certified nut so his chances of securing the GOP nomination are as slim as he isn’t.
The Braves really need to end this series with a couple of wins or we could look back at this road trip as a lost opportunity to bury the Phils and Nats. I’m far from confident that the division is wrapped up.
Game 1 resumes at 6 p.m. on SportSouth, with Joe Simpson joining Keith Hernandez on the telecast. Then, it’s over to Big Fox for Game 2.
It’s obvious the Bravos need bullpen reinforcements, and quickly. Jordan Walden should be back this week, so that’ll help. When Brandon Beachy, currently on a rehab assignment, is ready I suspect you’ll see him pitch in relief, where he could emerge as real weapon down the stretch.
But can the Braves afford to wait that long?
Might not be bad idea to call Seattle, which has three lefties in the ‘pen and is desperate for a bat.
Charlie Furbush was outstanding in 2012, striking out 53 in 46 IP with a WHIP under 1.00. The ex-Tiger has struggled with his command this season, walking 10 in 18-1/3, but he also has 27 K’s. Furbush is still two years away from arbitration, so I assume the M’s would be reluctant to deal him.
Oliver Perez (one in the same), a free agent at season’s end, is a more realistic option. After spending two years out of the majors, Perez resurfaced late last season with Seattle, and in 51 relief appearances for the M’s he’s averaging better than a strikeout per inning with a 1.93 ERA. This year he’s held left-handed batters to four singles in 29 AB’s, striking out 12. Right-handers haven’t fared much better against the former Met.
Mets fans should be thrilled by the proposed R.A. Dickey to Toronto trade. New York will reportedly receive two former first round draft picks: catcher Travis d’Arnaud (.286 BA and .816 OPS in the minors) and pitcher Noah Snydergaard (13-8, 2.35 ERA, 1.085 WHIP) — an impressive haul for a 38-year-old pitcher.
New York also kept its franchise player, David Wright, for $138 million over 8 years. It’s a risky deal, as Wright will be 37 when his contract expires, but considering some of the deals handed out this winter it’s not unreasonable.
They still have a LONG way to go, as evidenced by their projected Opening Day outfield of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin and Lucas Duda.
The Nats imported Denard Span and Dan Haren, discarding Edwin Jackson and either Rochey or Michael Morse. Call it even.
The Bravos hope to draw even before the season starts but as of now they’re on the wrong end of the Chipper and Bourn for B.J. Upton swap.
Philly is the NL version of the Yanks, aging and fading. They were able to snag a player the Braves wanted, Ben Revere, but he didn’t come cheap. Their new third baseman, Michael Young, is a middle class man’s Placido Polanco, which is another way of saying I’ll take my chances on Juan Francisco. They’re reportedly hot for Cody Ross, which is sort of like being hot for Marion Ross.
Then there’s Miami. Unfortunately for the 38 remaining Marlins fans, Jeffrey Loria did not trade himself. They have Giancarlo Stanton — for now, but don’t be surprised if Texas rescues him from south Florida.