Attention Joe Mather; I apologize and thank you for making me say it. His work on Saturday night brought the Braves back into the game in the 7th and gave them the lead in the 12th. Over the past 15 days Mather is 11-22 (.500) with a homer and six RBI. Fellow part time player Eric Hinske is likewise hot; 14-345 (.400) with two homers and five RBI. Meanwhile Nate McClouth is 8-45 (.177) with a homer and an RBI and Dan Uggla is 6-49 (.122) with two homers and 4 RBI. McClouth’s last eight days are worse (.130); his hitting spree is officially over and unfortunately he’s looking like the 2010 McClouth again.Freddie Freeman has had a good road trip (.280) , Brian McCann is still delivering in the clutch and Prado’s 2 hit night indicates he’s back. Yet we haven’t been able to get anything going against starting pitchers of questionable pedigree, seldom producing more than one hit an inning. If it weren’t for great starting pitching we’d be in real trouble. As it is we stay three and one-half back of the Phillies and just behind the Marlins.
Jason Heyward’s scratch with a return of soreness in his shoulder (I thought that shoulder issue with numbness went away a little too quickly to be true) means he can’t be expected to be a factor for a while and the “slight” tear in the meniscus of Chipper Jones’ right knee means his ability to play every day is always in question. The lineup is streaky and hitters have no patience – before Freeman walked Saturday night we had 25 inning without a walk; that’s unacceptable. Base running has been ,,,well less than major league caliber and steals are nonexistent. What to do?
First of all I approve of Fredi Gonzales changing the lineup Friday to put Uggla in front of McCann. The fact that we were down eight before anyone had settled into their seats well is not the skipper’s fault. Uggla in front of McCann is a good idea; hitting him second not so much. Kudos for trying anyway Skip. McClouth leading off is just a non-starter. He’s said in interviews he isn’t comfortable hitting there and the fact that he’s earning $6 million won’t change that. Changes are being forced on us that may prove beneficial in the long run.
With Mather and Hinske hot they should be in the lineup whenever possible. I’d rest McClouth on Sunday and start Hinske,Mather and Prado in the outfield with McCann the DH. Let Prado lead off and hit
Alex Gonzales or Freeman second and slot Hinske in behind Uggla for protection. That would let us ride the hot hand, rest McCann and McClouth and maybe let us end this road trip on a positive note. It isn’t the long term answer however. We need a real leadoff man and a right handed power bat for the outfield. More on that next time, it’s way past my bedtime.