Apr 13, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) celebrates with left fielder Justin Upton (8) after defeating the Washington Nationals 10-2 at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Mid-April Checkup


 

It’s the middle of April now, and aside from the tax-filing deadline tomorrow (you did remember that, right?), it’s time to make some quick observations about the first two weeks of the season.

 

Schedule

We noted previously that the schedule seemed favorable for Atlanta this month – a chance to get some pitching healed up and ready to go while perhaps building a lead in the NL East.  How’s that going so far?

  • Unconventional” would be my word for it, but they are managing.  The toughest part of that April schedule is now done, and the Braves are in first place with an 8-4 record.
  • Oddly, that involved winning 5 of 6 against the Nationals, and 2 of 3 to the high-flying Brewers while dropping 2 of 3 to the Mets.
  • I had said on the radio that it was unrealistic for Atlanta to repeat last year’s 13-6 record vs. the Nats.  At this point already, the Nats would have to win 9 of the remaining 13 to avoid losing the season series.
  • The Brewers and Nationals have lost a combined 7 games.  Guess who is responsible for all of those losses?
  • Upcoming schedule:  PHIL (4 games), NYM (3), MIA (3), off day, CIN (3), off day, MIA (3).  That gets us to May 1st.
  • After that it gets tough with SFran, STL twice each in May – plus Milwaukee again.  Oh, and Boston.  May is brutal – underlining the importance of April.
  • Meanwhile, the Nationals (7-5) have nearly finished the soft part of their April, and will face MIA (3), STL (4), LAAngels (3), SDPadres (4), and HOU (2).  They’ll have the Dodgers and Oakland early in May before finishing with the Rangers.  Still easier than Atlanta’s grind.

 

Pitching

  • That shaky pitching staff?  Second in the NL in runs allowed:  33 (Milwaukee: 29).  Next closest is Cincy (38).
  • Guess who is leading the NL in ERA?  Aaron Harang!  0.96.
  • If you lower the qualification threshold to 8 innings, then the NL ERA leader is Ervin Santana (0.00, tied w/2 others).
  • Alex Wood is also in the top ten on that chart (1.89)
  • Santana is back – clearly.  Mike Minor will be soon.  Gavin Floyd completed another rehab start yesterday (3.2 innings, 3 hits, 3 walks, 3 K, 1 earned run).  But hey:  Santana had an 8.44 ERA at Gwinnett.
  • Right now, David Hale is probably the next ‘odd man out’ once Minor returns… dunno about the rotation yet once Floyd becomes available.

 

Offense

  • After the outburst of 23 runs scored in this series, the Braves are no longer last in baseball in scoring.  But they did score as many runs in these 3 games as they did in the previous 9 combined.
  • The reason?  Justin Upton has got to be the NL Player of the Week:  despite the ice-cold start, he’s now hitting .386 with a .471 OBP, .705 Slugging% and is second in all of baseball in WAR.  This was a video-game week for him.
  • Freddie Freeman was no slouch either.  He’s hitting a ridiculous .442 with a .519 OBP.  He’s 9th in WAR overall.
  • Jason Heyward is still batting only .149 (too many K’s), but is finding ways to get on base (14% walk rate, .286 OBP).
  • B.J. Upton is trending upward (.191) after an abysmal first week.
  • Evan Gattis likewise, but a few key hits got him all the way up to .286.  But quietly, Andrelton Simmons have managed to forge a .306 clip.
  • Early promise is fading for Dan Uggla, though:  .195 with only one walk so far.

 

Evidence that Baseball is a Nutty Sport

 

But with all things:  it’s still early.

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Tags: April 2014 Atlanta Braves