Kawakami draws another tough assignment

If Kenshin Kawakami was currently on a Minor League rehab assignment, the odds are that he would have been the one opposing Stephen Strasburg on Friday night, when the Nationals young phenom makes his Triple-A debut in Syracuse against the Gwinnett Braves.  

Through his first four starts this season, Kawakami has already been opposed by Tim Lincecum, Ubaldo No-No Jimenez and Jaime Garcia, who has posted a 1.13 ERA in his first five starts for the Cardinals.  

Thus it is only fitting that Kawakami will make his fifth start tonight against Livan Hernandez, who is the only National League pitcher with a better  ERA than Garcia or Lincecum.   The 0.87 mark that he carries into this start matches Jimenez for the league lead.
 
There was a time when the Braves had little reason to fear a matchup against Hernandez, unless of course Eric Gregg was calling balls in strikes for him in a National League Championship Series game. 

During his first 24 career regular season starts against the Braves, Hernandez went 3-15 with a 5.63 ERA.   In 15 starts that stretched from 2001-2005, he went 0-11 with a 5.95 ERA against this same organization that he dominated for the Marlins during the 1997 NLCS.  

But the 35-year-old Hernandez managed to go 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in the three starts he made against the Braves last year.
 
As you’ve likely already heard, Hernandez  and the rest of the Nationals pitching staff won’t have to deal with Yunel Escobar this week.   The Braves placed Escobar on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and promoted Brandon Hicks from Gwinnett to fill his roster spot.
 
Considering that Escobar is 5-for-10 with a double and a triple in his career against his fellow Cuban, the Braves might have benefitted from his presence in the lineup tonight.  But he certainly isn’t the only Atlanta player who has experienced success against Hernandez. 

This might be a good night for Chipper Jones to cure the swing that has produced just one hit in his past 24 at-bats.   The Braves veteran third baseman has hit .354 with 10 doubles and a homer in 65 career at-bats against Hernandez. 

Martin Prado, who enters the evening with the NL’s fourth-best batting average (.354) has four hits, including a double, in seven career at-bats against Hernandez.   On the flip side, the veteran right-hander may be able to prolong Nate McLouth’s struggles. 

McLouth has one hit and five strikeouts in 13 career at-bats against Hernandez.
  
This much-improved Nationals club has also experienced some offensive struggles since facing Jimenez.  In the 10 games that they’ve played dating back to that assignment against the Rockies righty, they have hit .218 and scored 2.9 runs per game.  

Just received word that Jason Heyward was named the National League’s Rookie of the Month.  I’ll post tonight’s lineups when I get to the park. 

 

13 Comments

Jurrjens does not seem too confident about starting on Saturday. While the hammy is improving, he doesn’t think it will improve enough in time to make that start against the Phillies. If Medlen doesn’t pitch a lot in the next couple of days, he could make a spot start. Or James Parr could be brought up to pitch on regular rest.

BRAVES LINEUP vs. Nats 5/4/2010
McLouth 8
Prado 4
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Glaus 3
Heyward 9
Cabrera 7
Infante 6
Kawakami 1

Why McLouth continues to bat leadoff I will never know. He is 3rd on the Braves in SO(behind power hitters McCann and Heyward) and he has a worse batting avg than 14 players on the roster, including tim hudson. This is just Bobby stupid stubborn. heck, Infante is a lot better idea in the 1 hole.

Man, bad start for chipper, Strike out with man on 1st and 3rd then two poor defensive plays.

Mark, question for you, is there any indication that this new build up pitchers pitch count by being patient was bought to atlanta by melky? It is a thing everyone knows the yankees like to do, see alot of pitches and get into the opponenets middle relief. Maybe the players been talking amongst themselves and melky has said why they did it and the braves players have bought into the idea?

Or is it just that we got rid of frenchy and kelly and replaced them with more patient hitters?

Good question, zidane. I would have to say that it has much more to do with the kind of players that now fill the lineup. There’s no reason to definitively say that an aggressive approach is better than a patient one. I think what TP is trying to preach is understand the situation. In doing so, he wants his hitters to know when it’s best to do some first-pitch hacking and when it’s time to look at a few pitches. In short, I don’t think this is a product of a mandate or the influence of somebody like Melky.

Who wants to wager that Heyward is gonna hit 30+ HRs this year?

If Heyward doesn’t homer again tonight, he’ll enter tomorrow on pace to hit 50 (49.84 to be exact) this year. Right now, I would say he’s going slightly above 30. I’ll go with 32.

Kawakami seems to be trying his best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Oh, I’ll take 36 on Heyward, give or take 2.

Hey, someone called zidane can only ever ask good questions! If zidane played baseball his line would be .400, 60 hr, 180 rbi! the greatest sportsman in history.

hmmm interesting, i personally see the value of seeing pitches and working the pitch count. Nothing is more frustrating than at the start of last year when a pitcher would walk the bases loaded with 1 out and then frenchy would pop in and swing at the first pitch into a double play or something.

O, and by the way guys, we are never winning this game, too many missed oppurtunities

I am impressed with kawakami, he clearly isnt on today and keeps missing all his pitches, but he is gritting it out and has kept up in the game so far…

Speaking as a former 1B, having two people cover the bag when you’re fielding a grounder is rather confusing.

I’ll take 33 HRs for Heyward. I love the way this kid bounces back everytime he goes through a little slump. Here’s a question: when will Heyward finally be in the 3 hole in this lineup? We all know it’s coming, just a matter of when.

Glad I went to Opening Day. I’ll always have the memory of that one day the Braves were the best hitting team in the Majors and in 1st place. For Heyward, barring injury, I’ll go 29HRs, 105RBIs. He will start getting walked constantly because this team cant hit.

one thing is for sure..the braves can no longer assume the nats are going to be a sure thing. at the same time, the nats have always played the braves tough. hopefully the braves can win behind hanson tonight since, they are going to have thier hands full agianst olsen on thursday.

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