This weekends disruption of the schedule couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Braves. A look at the revised schedule below will tell you why.
A three day break might sound like a breath of fresh air to players who’ve been going virtually non-stop since March and the rest will no doubt be good for the perpetually damaged bodies of Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, the recovering shoulder of Tommy Hanson and perhaps the theoretically healed or at least less painful knee of Jair Jurrjens. It’s effect on hitters timing and the pitching staff is less predictable.
Pitchers more than anyone else are creatures of habit. Insert slightest change in their routine – like say an added 3 days of rest - and how they will perform until that routine is established again is anyone’s guess. Balancing work for our Three Musketeers at the back of the pen is a tricky business at the best of times, this delay compounds that. There will undoubtedly be a workout day tomorrow and perhaps Derek Lowe will benefit from the time off too, though sinker ball pitchers tend to be too strong after a prolonged rest. I wish Roger McDowell the best of luck keeping those arms in sync.
The postponed Mets games are now a double header on September 8th meaning the Braves lose their travel day and play 17 games in 16 days.
Following the last out in New York our fearless crew will hop on a plane to St. Louis to arrive in the wee hours of the morning where after that evening without a good night’s sleep under their collective belts they will face Albert Pujols and the Cardinals. Fortunately we should have plenty of starting pitching as the September call-ups will be with us by then. That should mean the staff is bolstered by Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Jairo Asencio, Anthony Varvaro and Cory Gearrin. A healthy at last Peter Moylan add stability to middle relief and hopefully mean we’ve seen the end of Scott Linebrink in any meaningful situation. In fact I’d suggest we send him on vacation early as all of those arms are better than his right now and perhaps take Julio Lugo along to carry his bags.
The bench will be strengthened by the return of recently acquired Wes Helms, hopefully exciting young shortstop prospect Tyler Pastornicky, Chris Carter, Wilkin Ramirez and others to provide skipper Fredi Gonzales viable alternatives during this extended and physically draining period.
On the bright side the Phillies tried to beat the hurricane with a double header today against the Marlins. That was washed out early on this morning meaning they have two games to play with Florida and their only open date is Thursday September 15th.
That open date however comes between three games in Houston and four in Philly against St Louis. Their last Astro game is an afternoon affair that they would finish between 5 and 6 eastern time making their landing in Florida somewhere near midnight. A double header that afternoon would be followed by a late night flight to home to Philly to meet the Cards that evening.
Any rainouts or other postponements for either team would have to be made play on September 29th as the season ends on Wednesday and the NLDS begins on Saturday October 1st.
I like our group of minor league call-ups a lot more than anything the Phillies can muster and they might just be the difference between playing the Brewer who have all but sealed the Central Division title and the survivor of the battle of attrition currently underway between the Diamondbacks and the defending World Champion Giants. The next five weeks should indeed be interesting.