Braves Bats Wake up, Diaz Has Surgery, Wilson, Simmons Update

Quick Game Review

The Braves spent Tuesday night getting even for Monday’s loss behind a gem from Tim Hudson who went 6 1/3, 2 hit shutout innings on 97 pitches (63 strikes) before turning it over the the bullpen.  This morning we are still 4.5 games in back of the Nationals who lost to the Giants and 3 games ahead of the Pirates -currently the second Wildcard team – who got raided by the Dodgers last night.  The table where the key teams stand.

East W L w PCT GB Games Remaining Magic # To Clinch Playoff
Washington 72 45 .615 - 45 42 39
Atlanta 67 49 .578 4.5 46    
Wild Card W L PCT WCGB   Wildcard Magic #  
Atlanta 67 49 0.578   46 44  
Pittsburgh 64 52 .552 3 46 46  
LA Dodgers 64 53 .547 0.5 45    
San Francisco 64 53 .547 0.5 45    
St. Louis 63 53 .543 1 46    
Arizona 58 58 .500 6 46    

The wildcard games back for all but the Pirates are based on the Pirates record.

Obviously more complete game reports are available elsewhere but I have a few highlights I’d like to emphasize.

Tim Hudson

Huddy in his role as defacto staff ace stopped the losing streak from starting and some fans were upset that Skipper Fredi Gonzales had such a quick hook. Those folks forget that he’s 36 years old and has bits of bone poking him in the heel. The pen was rested and Getting Huddy out was the right move.

Jonny Venters and Luis Avilan

Venters came on and looked like his 2011 self in that he struck out to hitters with nasty stuff but walked a man in between. While his K/BB rate ended up at 2.23 in 2011 he had two months where it was under 1.6 and had 9 games where he walked 2 or more. Even when they didn’t walk he often threw a lot of pitches.  What I saw last night was a release point that was nearly the same every pitch and a slider diving into the right handed batter’s back ankle. Avilan continued to impress handling his inning of work easily and Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth to close it out because-  as Carroll Rogers of the AJC put it – he was bored.

Injury Update

Matt Diaz  had surgery on his thumb this morning ending his season. Frankly this is a nice way to let Matty hang around a team that clearly loves him without carrying the weight of his defense and empty bat against right handed pitchers. I like Matt but Reed Johnson is far superior in every area and much more valuable.

Speaking of light bats, Jack Wilson had a setback while trying to hit at Gwinnett and has been told to take some time to let the pinkie finger heal. Once again this eliminates the unpleasant task of telling a player you like he won’t be back until September call ups.  Jack gave us everything he had but Paul Janish is again a superior bench player both defensively and offensively.

Andrelton Simmons had a different splint on his hand last night but like Wilson probably won’t see much – if any- playing time until September. Yanish has the defense sealed up and we need Simba fully healed for the playoffs.

Nothing new on Brian McCann’s subluxation of the right shoulder. So you won’t have to look that up a subluxation is a “The atypical anatomic positioning of any joint that exceeds the physiologic but not the anatomic limit.  OR Incomplete or partial dislocation, as of a bone in a joint.” In other words the shoulder didn’t come all the way apart just far enough to hurt like hell when he moves it; you know like throwing or hitting.  I hope it doesn’t get worse but it is weakened state any high stress event might be too much.

Pondering The Six Man Rotation

I was initially not a fan of the idea of changing a starting pitcher’s routine mid year and see it as an unwillingness to tell Tommy Hanson he’s not as good as Kris Medlen these days. I’m still not convinced but there are certain advantages to using it.

1. We are in a 20 game in 20 day stretch. The bullpen might well be stretched too far and we can’t afford to be letting a starter take one for the team at this time of year.

2. Looking at the pitchers’ involved records on 5 full days of rest it seems they aren’t noticeably less effective when it happens. Ben Sheets has in fact pitched on six days every start he’s made for the Braves; he’s 2-1 2.50 ERA. The rest look like this in 2012.

Kris Medlen 2-0       1.62 ERA

Mike Minor 1-2         7.50 ERA (all of these games were in during that horrible June for Minor, he’s pitched much better since then

Paul Maholm 1-1      1.69 ERA

Tim Hudson 4-0        3.86 ERA

Tommy Hanson 4-0  7.54 ERA  (His wins are a bit – no a LOT – misleading as his ERA reflects. He gave up 8 runs in ‘win” game, 6 in another, and rarely pitched well. )

This is admittedly a very small sample but the stretch we are looking to cover is relatively short too, This should be about three times through the 6 man but of course they could keep it if it works. Why not?

Prado and Uggla Waking UP

The last few games have seen Dan Uggla’s bat coming around and tonight’s home run seemed to indicate it will stick . . .for a while anyway. Martin Prado hit a homer to dead center field tonight and scorched a couple of other shots so it appears he’s coming out of his doldrums too. Freddie Freeman came through with RBI in the three hole where I think he should hit all the time. Chipper agrees with me and told Gonzales so earlier in the year. Jason Heyward ended up there by default but it appears he presses harder with men on while Freddie takes the same swing all the time. Lee’s clutch WPA numbers and batting order splits – heavily weighted to the part of the season where Freddie was playing injured – don’t show that but, with runners on and two out he’s absolutely scorching the ball while Jason isn’t breaking 200.

That’s A Wrap

Catching the Nationals at this point is going to require us the play at least .700 ball for the rest of the year or the Nationals would have to come back to earth with a thump. With our injuries and the way our bats can inexplicably go to sleep and the way their pitching has been going even without Stephen Strasburg it isn’t something I’d bet the house on. The Pirates have been slumping and while they still hold a 1/2 game lead they could drop off quickly making the prospect of a  shootout game against the Dodgers and Giants or even the Cardinals.  Don’t be surprised if following this current stretch Fredi Gonzales concentrates on getting ready for that scenario rather than the far less probable outcome of catching the Nats.

Tags: Andrelton Simmons Brian Mccann Cardinals Dan Uggla Dodgers Favorite Giants Jason Heyward. Nationals Kris Medlen Luis Avilan Matt Diaz Mike Minor Paul Janish Paul Maholm Reed Johnson Tommy Hanson

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