Actually a week and 3 days but who’s counting? The Braves had a mixed – mostly down – week after beating the Nats behind Derek Lowe. Lowe continued to pitch superbly in his second outing against the Brewers. Unfortunately he ran into the Cy Young version of Yovani Gallardo and suffered a tough one run loss. Lowe finished the week 1-1 with a miniscule 0.77 ERA. Tim Hudson proved he’s still pitching like an ace by going 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA. Although the first inning of both starts was less than Hudson-like, he settled in after that to the Hudson we saw all of last year. The flip side of that is Tommy Hanson’s 0-2 week and 6.00 ERA. Tommy seemed lost on Saturday against the Nats afterward saying he couldn’t get his fastball to work. Thursday it was apparently his slider that went missing in his loss to the Brewers. I hope he finds both before his next start.
Brandon Beachy had a mixed week. He pitched superbly against the Brewers for 6 innings allowing only a solo homer to the scorching hot Rickie Weeks on his way to a no decision. Against the Phillies he was more hittable giving up 4 runs in six innings in the Braves loss so he finished the week 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA. The big disappointment of the week was Mike Minor’s dismal performance in Milwaukee. In spite of his experience last year he looked nervous and uncomfortable on the mound giving up 6 runs in 4 1/3 innings in the loss. He returned to Gwinnett with a 10.38 ERA and lots of work to do on locating his pitches. The bullpen had its ups and downs as well.
Craig Kimbrel proved what most of us suspected all along; he’s the closer, period, end of discussion. All of the talk of closer by situation proved to be a smokescreen to lift pressure from Kimbrel’s shouldersin case he had a rough outing and the Skipper decided to us Venters. Kimbrel was superb, going 3 for 3 in saves, striking out 6 and walking no one. His ERA: What ERA? WHIP? Ditto. ( I mention WHIP because I feel it’s a far more accurate measure for a reliever than ERA. For setup men stranded runners is valuable as well and I’ll mention that from time time.) Jonny Venters had an equally impressive week throwing 5 innings while allowing 1 hit and 1 run. ERA 1.89, WHIP 0.400. Eric O’Flaherty proved his was back in form when he threw 3 scoreless with a WHIP of 1.364. Peter Moylan had a mixed week giving up a run in DC on Saturday and Milwaukee on Thursday and shutting the door the in his other appearances. ERA 6.00, WHIP 3.00. Scott Linebrink had three pretty good outings sandwiched between allowing a 2 hits and a run in the loss to the Nats and 3 hits (including the grand slam to Ruiz) and 2 earned in the debacle against Philadelphia yesterday. ERA 6.75, WHIP 2.00 Cristhian Martinez threw 6 innings over three appearances allowing nothing until the Phillies forced home two in the 9th yesterday. The worst performance from the pen was predictably that of George Sherrill. Back in January I quoted and agreed with Fangraphs’ Jack Moore who said in part “. . .If Sherrill is truly used as a Left handed One Out GuY (LOOGY), he could be productive for Atlanta. However, he simply cannot be allowed to face a righty in a high or even medium leverage situation. “(emphasis mine) He hasn’t done either job well and the warning about facing right handed hitter in a high leverage situation proved well founded. Yesterday he allowed both hitters he faced to reach and left without retiring a hitter and the bases loaded. ERA 10.80 WHIP 3.0.
For our lineup it’s been feast or famine. Aside from the blowout against the Nats and sending Cliff Lee to an early shower, we’ve struggled to score. First the good news. Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Martin Prado and Jason Heyward have been getting on base and driving in runs. McCann is currently hitting .406 and Chipper .333 while Heyward and Prado are hitting .259 and .282 respectively. In spite of the lower average Heyward’s is actually doing very well at the plate getting on base at a .429 clip; four of his 7 hits have been extra base knocks and he’s walked 8 times. Freddie Freeman’s starting to come to life as well. In his last three games he’s hitting .300 with an on base of .364. The rest of the lineup hasn’t started to click yet. Dan Uggla hasn’t fully awakened from his winter hibernation, Nate McLouth still struggling for consistency and Alex Gonzales the only one hitting above .240. Chipper said in an interview the lineup was still figuring itself out. I hope they figure it out soon. I know it’s early and you can’t win a title in April, but you can lose one in April. I prefer not to look back in October and thinking we did.
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