I woke up this morning with a smile! I always smile on the day of the Atlanta Braves’ home opener. I had even more reason to smile because I knew that the Braves would be honoring Hank Aaron on the 40th Anniversary of his historic, Babe Ruth record breaking, 715th home run! I also thought to myself, all that is great, but to top it off we’ll be playing the New York Mets who are 3-4 on the season, and struggling, particularly with their bullpen. All that seemed like good reason to smile, but by the time the game was over many hours later, after multiple posts about Hank Aaron, and a Live Thread, I had little reason left to smile.
But I’m keeping my chin up! I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first let me share with you my take on the game, perceptions, and some specific things I noticed while watching the game, things that perhaps fall outside your normal recap of a game’s events.
Harang Should Stay In The Rotation!
Many fans were shaking their collective heads when the Braves signed Aaron Harang, particularly when remembering their collective chagrin at not re-signing Tim Hudson. What? You give up a long-time Brave and veteran in Tim Hudson for a pitcher just three years younger at 35, whose never been nearly as good as Tim Hudson? Despite those collective sighs, and I’ll agree I sighed along with you, Harang has been lights out in his first two games for the Braves!
In his first outing on April 2nd against the Milwaukee Brewers, Harang went just over 6 innings, giving up no earned runs, walking only one batter, while striking out three on a total of 97 pitches. In this evening’s outing against the Mets, Harang just gave up one run on two hits, and while he walked four in this outing, he also struck out nine Mets batters! As good as he was however, he got ZERO run support from his teammates.
The current four man rotation will soon turn to a normal five man rotation, and unless the Braves go to a six man rotation, which they obviously won’t, then someone among the current crop of six pitchers will have to step out of the starting rotation. My educated guess and my gut tell me that will probably be David Hale, but it could be Aaron Harang! We’ll have to wait and see, but while David Hale has also pitched well, I think Harang’s experience and performance so far trump Hale in such a decision. It’s one I’d hate to have to make.
Braves’ Bats Need To Wake Up!
On a night when the Braves’ Organization and fans honored Hank Aaron, one of the most prolific hitters in the history of baseball, the current crop of Braves’ players certainly did little with their bats to honor Aaron! At a 4-3 record, the Braves have lost their last two games, and have had really only one game this season where they put together a string of hits.
It’s still early in the season of course, but with the Braves’ lack of offense, they’re fortunate at this point to still be above .500, if barely. We all know the Braves have the talent to be performing much better offensively, but for whatever reason, the production just hasn’t been there yet. As a total team, the Braves have had 199 At Bats, but only 44 hits out of that number, and a paltry 15 runs! Only Freddie Freeman (who’s tearing it up!), Chris Johnson, Andrelton Simmons, and yes – Dan Uggla are getting hits with any degree of regularity. That has to change, and fast!
The Good News!
Yes, there is some good news, and that’s why I mentioned earlier in the article I’m keeping my chin up! Atlanta fans ought to be accustomed to the see-saw ride the Braves often take us on, year-in, year-out. Even with a 96 win season last year, the year came to a close making me feel like I’d just spent 8 hours riding the world’s tallest and scariest roller coaster.
The bats will come to life! Jason Heyward and Justin Upton will get back on track, and it appears that little-by-little, B.J. Upton is starting to figure his issues out as well. Dan Uggla is worlds better than he was the entire 2013 season. His swing is on plane, shortened, with less movement, and he just appears more confident at the plate. Pitching was considered to be the biggest worry pre-season, and we’re not out of the woods there yet, but as deep into the woods as the bats seem right now, there’s sunshine on the horizon. Just be patient Braves’ fans!