Good TGIF folks. The weekend ahead could be big a one as the Braves but before I get into the game here are some news and notes you might have missed.
Braves Minor League Awards
Julio Teheran was named the Braves top organizational pitcher after setting a Gwinnett Braves record with 15 wins, earning him top honors already from the International League. Teheran had a 2.55 AAA ERA and allowed hitters a .278 average. Meanwhile Lynchburg first baseman Joe Terdoslavich was named Braves minor league player of the year. The switch-hitting first baseman was third in the league with a .286 batting average and fifth in the Braves organization with 20 home runs. he set a Carolina League record with 52 doubles and made hi shits count by driving in 82 runs. Lynchburg shortstop Andrelton Simmons was the only Carolina League hitter to finish above .300. The young shortstop hit .311 with 35 doubles and 52 RBI in 129 games.
AAA All-Star and home run derby champ Stefan Gartrell was named the Gwinnett player of the year. He hit .262 on the season while setting a G-Braves record with 25 home runs (26 including AA.) He had a league-best 94 RBI and hit 32 doubles. splitting time between designated hitter and right field.
Mike Minor was named the G-Braves’ pitcher of the year, Randall Delgado was the M-Braves pitcher of the year and Tyler Pastornicky was named the M-Braves’ player of the year .In 27 games with the G-Braves before he injured an ankle, Pastornicky hit .365 and stole seven bases. All four will be honored at today’s home game against the New York Mets.
There’s a nice write up on Braves prospect Ronan Pacheco over at Fangraphs. Scouts like the lanky lefthander although sabermetrics folks have largely ignored him. The article points out that everything can’t be boiled down to a number. Check it out.
There’s a possibility that Kris Medlen may return before the post season to bolster the bullpen. He originally was scheduled back this month then had a setback in his TJ rehab process. The latest throwing sessions indicate he may be ready before the playoffs begin and he is scheduled to throw live batting practice Saturday for the first time. If he can get back into game action before the regular season ends, the Braves will consider adding Medlen – who gets lefties out very well – to the bullpen. The fact that the Braves are considering it tells me they are not happy with the current right handed relief they have and are not certain Tommy Hanson will be back and ready to start big games.
Tommy Hanson is as I understand it, going to get a rehab start in the instructional leagues and at least one start with the Braves before the playoffs. They do not want to throw him into the pressure of the playoff fire without at least one start under his belt to test his shoulder.
Weekend Set Against The Mets
The Mets are in town for three before we head to Miami then DC on our last road trip. The words last road tip highlight the fact that the end of the season is near and we hold a string position in the Wildcard race.
The best team the Philadelphia could buy has clinched a playoff berth and for all practical purposes the NL East Championship. The Braves have a 4.5 game lead over St Louis in the Wildcard with a magic number of nine. The number for the Giants who are definitely outsiders but still in with a chance because of their pitching is seven. The remaining schedule for all contenders looks like this.
The Giants probably have the roughest road ahead as they are on the road until the last three games of the season.
The Cardinals have a wrap-around four game set at Citizens Bank Park going home to face the Mets and Cubs. Having grown up in Illinois I can tell you that the Cubs would like nothing better than to eliminate the Cardinals fro the post season. The Cards finish on the road against the hapless (oops, I guess not. they have J. A. Happ) worst team in baseball, the Astros.
If the Braves take care of business however neither chasing team can catch them.It’s not a foregone conclusion however because like Cubs would love to ruin the Cardinal’s season the Mets would delight in ending ours. There’s a complete series preview by Carroll Rogers over at the AJC. Here’s just a word about tonight.
Tonight’s game matches Derek Lowe with Chris Capuano who threw a two-hit complete game against us the night before hurricane Irene blew the schedule apart. It was Capuano’s best game of the season and I suspect the minds of the Braves’ players that night were as much on Irene and winning the game. We owe Capuano a nice thumping to make up for that lackluster performance and it would be nice to give it to him tonight.
I know many folks are adamant that Lowe not start another game for us but, that simply isn’t realistic. With Jair Jurrjens more than likely out until next year and Tommy Hanson’s availability in question, Lowe is going to remain in the rotation. In an interview with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on XM yesterday afternoon skipper Fredi Gonzales made it clear that the playoff rotation if the series started today would include Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy and Derek Lowe. Gonzalez made the point that I’ve been trying to get across as well. Lowe is a better pitcher if you actually score some early runs for him. I know, every pitcher is better with a lead but consider Lowe’s game and the way he has to pitch.
As you are all painfully aware, the Braves rarely score runs early, particularly for Lowe. The Braves average 3.33 runs per game for Lowe, 4.18 for Hudson and 4.46 for Beachy. In the early innings of Lowe’s 31 starts they’ve scored :
- In the first inning 8 times
- In the second 9 times (1st and second same day 3 times)
- In the third inning 9 times (2nd and 3rd twice, 1st 2nd and 3rd once)
- In the fourth inning 5 times
- Three times they didn’t score at all.
This has to be on Lowe’s mind when he starts a game.
In spite of Lowe’s 9-14 record the Braves are 15-16 in his starts. They are 16-14 in Tim Hudson’s starts. Am I saying Lowe is as good as Hudson? No. But if he had Hudson’s early inning run support he and the Braves might have more wins.
So put away your angst and support Lowe. He is a big game guy who loves the spotlight. Perhaps this home stretch and the playoffs on the horizon – along with run support from our suddenly energized lineup – will rekindle that devastating slider from last year. Speaking of a rekindle, what in the world woke up Alex Gonzalez?
The streaky gold glover suddenly discovered the power and bat control he had prior to moving to Atlanta last year. He needs to stay hot through October to keep the lineup balanced. Speaking of balance in the lineup, we need the 2010 Jason Heyward to reemerge and make a prolonged post season run. The return of his bat would be a wonderful end of season gift for the fans and the pitching staff.
Well, gotta get this posted. As always, let me know what you think.