Bad Night In Braves Town

Derek Lowe was awful. . . again. . . still. He lasted only 2 1/3 innings giving up six runs including a two run shot to David Wright. The Mets had their collective butt chewed out before the game and they responded. Wright had another homer, this one for 3 runs, off Julio Teheran. Back to Lowe, mentally he’s a mess. He lacks confidence and I suspect the team behind him lacks confidence in  him as well.

I said back in July that Lowe should be sent to the bullpen. I still believe that. After the game however skipper Fredi Gonzalez and Derek Lowe answered questions. These were reported by David O’Brien of the AJC on his blog. Read that here.

“I always think positive. It’s just one of those starts. We’ll get him going again in the next five days, and get him back on the winning track.

When he was asked if that meant he still has confidence in Lowe, Gonzalez said:

“Oh, absolutely. I have confidence in all the guys. We’ve played too long and too hard not to have confidence.”

Derek Lowe was not impressed with his performance either

“This was terrible. And I don’t mean to make light of it, but it was non-competitive pitching from the first pitch. I mean, it was terrible.. . .This was terrible. And I don’t mean to make light of it, but it was non-competitive pitching from the first pitch. I mean, it was terrible. . .Terrible. That’s the only word I can say. This has been a long year. Probably the worst year I’ve ever had.”

We all agree with Lowe. I hope that the skipper is just waiting to talk with Roger McDowell about what to do next. Kris Medlen’s side session is tomorrow and Tommy Hanson may know more as well.

With Hanson hurt and 50/50 to get back and Jair Jurrjens unlikely to get back at all any decision has ramifications. So the question is, if not Hanson, is it Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado for the post season? Because, based on recent performances Lowe is no more qualified than Scott Linebrink to start a post season game. Before everyone says hell yes consider this.

As good as the young man – Delgado – is and he can be special, he is very young and has already thrown more innings than ever before. As we’ve seen in his regular season starts, he’s probably a five inning and out guy against post season lineups.  That means the bullpen – probably Lowe or Teheran – are next. Even if Kris Medlen is back he’s one inning or two at best every other game at about 75-80% of the Medlen we all appreciated before his injury. It’s a Hobson’s choice at best wkth perhaps the answer being a three man rotation in the first series and play it by ear when we get to the NLCS.  Whatever their decision the Braves have other problems.

The lineup is not hitting as it should. In spite of dismantling the Marlins  two out of three games, tonight showed that we haven’t developed the consistency needed to win. Chipper Jones has made it known he doesn’t care a lot for the two spot in the lineup. I am sure he will continue to hit well there, he’s to much of a pro not to. The one that concern me are Jason Heyward, Matt Diaz  and Alex Gonzalez.

With due deference to the sabermetric community, Jason is lost at the plate.  He struck out tonight on a couple of pitches around his ankles. He doesn’t seem to be swinging with any confidence, probably because he has so many people trying to fix his swing. The Skipper said in an interview they had people trying to change a few thing sin the swing. The post season is not the time to work on basics.

Matt Diaz is a great guy who hits lefties – some of the time – and is wonderful in the clubhouse but he’s a mediocre fielder and has little power; no homers this season and 12 doubles. Good pitching however is not something he feasts on.

Eric Hinske can hit anyone but good lefties give him a lot of trouble. He like Diaz however, is a below average fielder in spite of his catch of that home run in St Louis.

Alex Gonzalez has been hot the last week. Before that he was awful, particularly with RISP. After his almost home run tonight he was swinging more like the old Alex than the new. I hope he stays hot for a t least the next six weeks.

I know because I’ve seen it happen, that players raise their game in the post season. If we can hold off the Cardinals and get in all bets are off. The decisions possible are limited by injury and players on the roster. Time will tell if the Skipper and his crew can pull it off and bring a championship to Atlanta again.

Tags: Alex Gonzalez Chipper Jones Derek Lowe Fredi Gonzalez Jason Heyward Martin Prado

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