The Braves and I have had quite a week. I had baseball sized hail and heat up to 101. The Braves had a six game win streak, swept the Brew Crew easily, beat Cliff Lee (again) in spite of Lee’s career high 16 strike out game, saw the pitching staff exert their dominance over some of the league’s best and Chipper Jones reach another milestone. You’ve read all about the game’s and outstanding individual performances so let’s look at some things that may has slipped under the Radar.
On Monday Fangraphs Marc Hulet had some very complimentary things to say about the Braves, their young pitching and their potential for another period of success based on the dominance of Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel whom he compared to the duo of Duane Ward and Tom Henke who were responsible for much of the Jays’ success in the early 80’s. Later in the week Matthew Carruth provided some eye popping numbers for Jonny Venters but what caught my eye was his 2011 ground ball rate. Good ground ball rates are not new for the Braves. Last year three of the top four (Jonny Venters 1, Peter Moylan 2 and Tim Hudson 4) were Braves. The pitcher in the third spot was a former Brave, Blaine Boyer. Venters finished 2010 with a 68.4% mark. After Sunday night’s game, 44 balls have been put into play when Venters was pitching, 38 were ground balls (2 were bunts) making his ground ball rate a ridiculous 86% (ERA 0.98.)
Fredi Gonzales and The Bullpen
I amongst a host of others have found some of the Skipper’s bullpen decisions to be . . . well, hard to explain. So when I saw a link to “Fredi Gonzales Bullpen Management Flowchart” I had to take a look. I have to say I found it to be on target in many ways. Have a look for yourself. The picture is linked to the original so click it for a bigger version.
Speaking of pitching, Bob was wondering as was I how many times a pitcher had struck out 16 batters and lost. So I looked. It’s happened 14 times, all but one of those since 1950, As you’d expect there are some pretty big names on the list. Oddly the Braves have been involved four times. In addition to beating Lee last week they beat Jake Peavy in May of 2006 and Sid Fernandez in July of 1989. Braves legend Warren Spahn was a victim in 1952 when the Cubs beat him in 15 innings; Spahn pitched all 15 inning BTW while winner Johnny Klippstein wimped out and only pitched the last eight. Spahn pitched 15 innings or more three times, 14 innings once, 12 innings twice, 11 innings seven times and 19 innings nine times in his 21 year Hall of Fame career. He had 382 complete games, won 363 and lost 245. Pitch count??? Who needs a stenking pitch count???
|Randy Johnson||1997-06-24||SEA||OAK||L 1-4||9.0||11||4||0||19||2||142||100||37||4.00|
|Nolan Ryan||1974-08-20||CAL||DET||L 0-1||11.0||4||1||5||19||0||41||0.82|
|Steve Carlton||1969-09-15||STL||NYM||L 3-4||9.0||9||4||2||19||2||38||4.00|
|Jim Maloney||1965-06-14||CIN||NYM||L 0-1||11.0||2||1||1||18||1||35||0.82|
|Warren Spahn||1952-06-14||BSN||CHC||L 1-3||15.0||10||3||2||18||1||57||1.80|
|Bob Feller||1938-10-02 (1)||CLE||DET||L 1-4||9.0||7||4||7||18||0||42||4.00|
|Pedro Martinez||2000-05-06||BOS||TBD||L 0-1||9.0||6||1||1||17||0||130||91||34||1.00|
|Randy Johnson||1999-06-30||ARI||CIN||L 0-2||8.0||7||2||0||17||1||134||96||30||2.25|
|Cliff Lee||2011-05-06||PHI||ATL||L 0-5||7.0||9||3||1||16||0||117||87||31||3.86|
|Jake Peavy||2006-05-22||SDP||ATL||L 1-3||7.0||3||2||1||16||1||114||74||25||2.57|
|Randy Johnson||2001-08-23||ARI||PIT||L 1-5||7.0||5||4||2||16||1||115||78||28||5.14|
|Sid Fernandez||1989-07-14||NYM||ATL||L 2-3||8.0||6||3||0||16||1||121||91||30||3.38|
|Dwight Gooden||1984-09-17||NYM||PHI||L 1-2||8.0||7||2||0||16||0||30||1.12|
|Steve Carlton||1967-09-20||STL||PHI||L 1-3||8.0||8||3||3||16||0||35||3.38|