Will the starting rotation live up to expectations?
After suffering his Major League-high fifth loss on Tuesday night, the still-winless Kenshin Kawakami actually used the word pathetic (or that was at least what was interpreted) while describing how he has pitched this season.
If you agree that the tough-luck Kawakami has been “pathetic” this season, then how would you describe the path that Derek Lowe has traveled on the way to winning four of his first 6 decisions?
Lowe 4-2, 5.18 ERA .264 BA .350 OBP .774 OPS 33 IP, 33 hits and 17 BBs
Kawakami 0-5, 5.47 ERA .298 BA .342 OBP .852 OPS 26 1/3 IP 31 hits and 8 BBs
Lowe has been opposed by six pitchers who have combined to go 10-12 with a 5.74 ERA this year. The five pitchers who have served as Kawakami’s mound opposition have gone 18-3 with a 1.94 ERA.
Even though he has been awarded more than a third of the 11 wins the Braves have recorded this season, should we say that Lowe been “slightly less-than-pathetic?”
Or should we simply look at the big picture and realize that the early-season offseason woes have overshadowed the possibility that this Atlanta rotation might not be as strong as we projected entering the season?
Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson, who will combine to start the final two games of the current three-game series against the Nationals, have provided indication that they are capable of being the ace-like pitchers the Braves believed they would be.
But entering Wednesday night’s game, the Braves starters ranked eighth in the National League with a 4.28 ERA and 13th with just 143 2/3 innings completed through the season’s first 26 games. An Atlanta pitcher has completed seven innings just three times this season with Hanson, Hudson and Jair Jurrjens accounting for those outings.
In comparison, the Phillies have seen their starting pitchers complete at least seven innings nine times already. Yes, Roy Halladay has accounted for six of these outings. But with Cole Hamels going eight innings in two of his past four outings, can the Braves still confidently say that their starting rotation is better than that injury-depleted one that supports the lethal offense that exists in Philadelphia?
While Joe Blanton made his return to the Phillies rotation on Monday, the Braves currently don’t know who will be starting the final two games of this weekend’s series in Philadelphia. Jurrjens doesn’t believe his strained hamstring will allow him to pitch on Saturday and Kawakami is at least questionable for Sunday’s start because of the blister that formed on his right foot during Tuesday night’s fourth inning.
Less than a week removed from a nine-game losing streak the Braves now find themselves battling a lack of depth in the starting pitching department. James Parr could make Saturday’s start. But if he does can the Braves be confident that he would eat enough innings for them to not have to call upon either Kris Medlen or Jonny Venters, the relievers who could be asked to make a spot start on Saturday.
The Braves knew they couldn’t complete an entire season with all of their starting pitchers healthy and at this point, they can at least take solace in the fact that neither Jurrjens or Kawakami will miss any significant time.
But as fate would have it, the Braves find themselves battling this potential dilemma during a weekend that could provide them a chance to remain within striking distance of the Phillies.
Still I guess things could certainly be worse for the Braves. I mean it’s lot like they suffered a 43-point loss during the first game of a conference semifinal last night.
Speaking of yesterday, a loyal Braves fan, James Reese, snapped this picture of Tom Glavine, Frank Wren and Dr. Joe Chandler watching Class A Rome’s home game on Tuesday.
As of 2:07 p.m. ET on Wednesday, there was no indication that the former hurler has since been told that he has been released from his duties as a broadcaster and special assistant to the president.
Sorry Frank, it was too easy.
Wren and Glavine are spending some time in Rome this week evaluating some of the club’s young prospects and Jordan Schafer, who has gone 2-for-7 in his first two Minor League rehab games. The young center fielder will continue to strengthen his surgically-repaired left hand before joining Triple-A Gwinnett’s roster.
The big league Braves will have the benefit of sending Hanson to the mound tonight to oppose Luis Atilano, who has gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his first three career starts. The Braves selected Atilano with their first pick (35th overall) in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and then traded him to the Nationals on Aug. 31, 2006 for pinch-hitter Daryle Ward.
BRAVES LINEUP vs. Nats 5/5/2010
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