Lowe has provided value
When Derek Lowe looks back on this season, he’s going to remember plenty of disappointment. What started out as a promising first year in Atlanta quickly fizzled into one that brought greater reason to wonder how much the Braves might regret giving him a four-year, $60 million contract in January.
Still through all the troubles, which essentially started during the middle portion of June, Lowe has managed to compile a team-high 15 wins this season, a total that has so far been reached by just five other National League hurlers.
Lowe will be the first to admit that it’s not wise to judge a pitcher’s season via a win-loss record. But with that being said, dating back to the beginning of the 2000 season, he’s recorded just the 14th 15-win season for a Braves pitcher.
If Jair Jurrjens were to notch his 13th win tonight, the Braves will still have a chance to have three 15-game winners (Lowe and Javy Vazquez included) for the first time since 2002 when Kevin Millwood, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux all reached that mark.
Through his first 13 starts this season, Lowe went 7-3 with a 3.44 ERA and limited opponents to a .240 batting average. In the 19 starts that have followed, he has gone 8-6 with a 5.47 ERA and allowed opponents to produce a .343 batting average.
As he was speaking after last night’s win over the Mets, Lowe was interrupted by a reporter who had joined the scrum as Lowe was alluding to the fact that the Braves have 12 more games to hope to gain the miracle to join the postseason mix.
Having heard just part of the statement, the reporter asked, “what were you talking about, (stinking) 12 games ago or something?
Lowe responded with, “I’ve (stunk) in a lot more than 12 games. Come on.”
When Lowe has struggled this year, there’s no doubt that he’s created a couple of ugly results. But the Braves still have managed to win 20 of the 32 games that he’s started and there have been just six occasions this year when he’s allowed more than three earned runs.
While Lowe might not have been the ace that some were hoping he’d suddenly become, he still has proven to be a solid member of the rotation and a strong clubhouse figure, whose unmatched work ethic has provided a good example to many of the younger players.
With Tommy Hanson, Jurrjens, and likely either Vazquez or Tim Hudson in place next year, the Braves don’t necessarily need Lowe to serve as an ace. They can only hope that his dedication to conditioning allows him to continue proving to be a productive presence over the next three years.
As we enter the final days of this season, I’d still have to say the Braves should feel fortunate that they provided the large contract to Lowe and didn’t incur the financial and health-related burdens that Jake Peavy or A.J. Burnett would have brought.
Cox’s future: Braves manager Bobby Cox still hasn’t revealed his plans for the 2010 season. But he has at least provided another hint that he’ll be back next year.
While talking about next year’s schedule, he asked, “when are we going to Minnesota next year?”
Cox will also refer to the Braves as “we”. But at the same time I think this provided even more reason to believe that he’s not ready to enter into retirement.
Citi Field: While the Mets might not like the dimensions at Citi Field, the Braves have found the new park to be quite accommodating.
During their seven games in New York this season, the Braves have outhomered the Mets 10-3. In other words, they compiled 21 percent of the total (48) the Mets have hit in their first 76 home games this year.
With his solo shot off Derek Lowe last night, Daniel Murphy became the all-time home run leader at Citi Field with a grand total of six. In 23 at-bats (or 207 fewer than Murhpy), Matt Diaz has cleared this stadium’s walls three times.