Make no mistake, Jose Fernandez is one heck of a pitcher…
However, what he did to the Braves tonight shows the major flaw in an offense that is carried by the home run, and beaten by the strikeout. When the Braves’ hitters face a power pitcher such as the one they saw tonight, it’s hopeless and the ever-wailing starts in; babies cry, grown men throw things, wives beg for divorce and hoards of pre-teens learn words that are not taught to them by their grammar teacher in primary school. This high-K rate, high power, is one of the major reasons why many baseball analysts think the Braves, as they’re currently built, will never make a serious run into the playoffs, as the playoffs are predominantly full of power pitchers. Here’s a look at tonight’s lineup, how they fared against Fernandez, and each player’s K% for the year:
1. Jason Heyward- 1 for 4, 2 K, Striking out 23% of plate appearances
2. B.J. Upton- 0 for 4, 0 K Striking out 27% of plate appearances
3. Freddie Freeman- 0 for 4, 3 K, Striking out 14% of plate appearances
4. Justin Upton- 0 for 3, 3 K, Striking out 35% of plate appearances
5. Chris Johnson- 1 for 3, 1 K, Striking out 27% of plate appearances
6. Dan Uggla- 0 for 3, 3 K, Striking out 27% of plate appearances
7. Evan Gattis- 0 for 3, 3 K, Striking out 22% of plate appearances
8. Andrelton Simmons- 1 for 3, 0 K, Striking out 3% of plate appearances
In my opinion, it couldn’t be more obvious that the lineup needs some balance. The lineup is right-handed heavy and strikeout prone, 2 weaknesses that right-handed power arms will expose.
The Braves have a player that would be the ideal compliment to a team chock-full of right-handed power hitters. An ideal player that would balance the lineup would be a left-handed hitter who puts the ball in play, can take a walk, has the ability to make pitchers work. This guy will replace one of the right-handed, strikeout prone players of which isn’t producing enough to counter the High-K rate. It just so happens the Braves have a player that fits the exact criteria! This player has went 9 for his last 16 with 0 strikeouts and 3 walks. This player has only struck out 3 times the entire 2014 season and has only struck out about 10% of his plate appearances for his career. In my opinion, this player’s time has come, and the move should be swift and without apology. Dan Uggla, I wish you all the best in another uniform.
Tommy La Stella, it’s time. Hope to see you in the lineup soon!