Reyes looking to extend pitching dominance
As you know, it’s not wise to put much stock in Spring Training statistics. But it’s hard to ignore what the Braves pitchers have been doing over the past week.
During the five games that preceded this afternoon’s contest against the Phillies, Braves starters had worked 19 2/3 innings, surrendered eight hits, allowed two earned runs, recorded 18 strikeouts and issued six walks. Before you grab your calculator, that equates to a 0.92 ERA.
The 2.83 ERA the Braves pitching staff has compiled during Grapefruit League play is almost one run better than any other National League team. In addition, Roger McDowell’s pitchers still haven’t surrendered a homer. (Now that Rother has declared that I’ve placed a jinx on Jo-Jo Reyes this afternoon, I’ll point out that every other NL team has surrendered at least six homers during this exhibition season.)
It will be nearly impossible for Reyes to duplicate the dominant performance Derek Lowe produced while not allowing the Astros to hit the ball out of the infield yesterday. But if the young left-hander continues to pitch like he has during his three previous Grapefruit League appearances, the Braves will have even more reason to believe he’s turned the corner.
Reyes, who went 0-7 with a 7.81 ERA in his final 13 appearances (12 starts) last year, has surrendered one run in nine GL innings. During his past two outings, he has worked seven scoreless innings, surrendered two hits and issued three walks.
Realizing that there likely won’t be an available rotation spot for him in Atlanta to start the year, Reyes has had reason to seem more relaxed than he was last year, when he often panicked when he encountered potentially-damaging situations.
If he continues to pitch effectively, Reyes could certainly prove to be a benefit in Atlanta this year. The Braves want Tommy Hanson to continue his maturation process in the Minors during the early portion of this season. If another starter is needed before Hanson is deemed ready, Reyes or Jorge Campillo would be the most likely candidates to move into Bobby Cox’s rotation.
Schafer returns: Jordan Schafer, who has been sidelined since Feb. 28 with a sprained left shoulder, is back in the lineup today. Both Cox and general manger Frank Wren said there is still plenty of time for Schafer to make the center field battle interesting. But it still appears Josh Anderson is clearly the favorite in that battle.
Anderson update: The Braves still aren’t sure when Garret Anderson might be able to return. But once again, Cox said he’s hopeful that the veteran outfielder will be in his Opening Day lineup.
Yunel Escobar SS
Jordan Schafer CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Greg Norton 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Matt Diaz LF
Diory Hernandez 3B
Clint Sammons C