Anger and Hope
I’ve been feeling under the weather, so watching the Atlanta Braves last night get taken to school by the Miami Marlins (imagine that, fish in a school?) certainly didn’t help to improve how I feel. I’m still puny today as well, but feeling some better. Because I was a little ill, I didn’t get my usual chance to interact with fellow Braves’ fans and discuss the game, tweet much, or do a live thread. I don’t really know then what some of my compadres think, but I was angered last night by manager Fredi Gonzalez‘ decision to tweak the lineup to get as many left-handed bats in against Jose Fernandez as possible.
Major League players are paid to learn to hit well against righties or lefties, and while any hitter may have a better chance to see the ball more clearly in righty/lefty situations, as last night, it certainly doesn’t guarantee offensive success. I know, our regular lineup may not have fared any better against Fernandez, but I personally believe you want to have your best hitters in against an opposing team’s best pitcher, regardless of how they’re, well, handed!
Yes, I also heard that Fredi wanted to give some of the bench some playing time, and that’s all good, but for me it was the wrong time to do it, as game 1 often sets the tone for games 2 and 3. Fredi Gonzalez said we have to figure out how to beat Fernandez, but I just think last night’s lineup was the wrong way to go about that uphill battle!
While Nathan Eovaldi is no Jose Fernandez, he’s pretty darn good as well, and sporting a nice 2.87 ERA. He’s a righty as well, so does that mean Fredi will try to load the lineup with left-handed bats again!? I know, you’re thinking I’m over-reacting, but amid all the talk from announcers last night about what a smart move it was against Fernandez, and then all of us seeing how it back-fired, I have to wonder if Fredi will make that mistake again. I doubt it, and I certainly HOPE NOT!
Fernandez IS very good, but you have to trust your hitters, and I just don’t fall into the camp that believes you should do the sort of thing Gonzalez did last night against top-flight aces. I know that Ramiro Pena and Ryan Doumit got hits coming off the bench, but that doesn’t justify sitting Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson, even if B.J. and Dan have struggled some, and Johnson is beginning to struggle more.
Another hope I have is that Aaron Harang will come in and pitch like the 0.85 he’s surprisngly sporting right now. Certainly even if Harang, as some believe, cannot sustain that kind of prowess, he certainly can fare no worse than Alex Wood did last night in giving up 7 runs on 10 hits in five innings pitched. The Marlins have some underrated pop in their lineup to be sure, but that outing by Alex Wood was VERY un-Wood-like, for lack of a better phrase.
When: 7:10 PM EST, Wednesday, April 30th
Where: Atlanta’s Turner Field, and TV’s SportSouth
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