Kawakami has at least been as effective as Lowe
When Derek Lowe was drawing significant run support and Kenshin Kawakami couldn’t buy a win during the early portion of the season, it was easy to argue that Kawakami had actually been more effective during his starts.
Now that Lowe is sidelined with discomfort behind his right elbow, I’ve heard many people ask what can the Braves expect out of Kawakami while he fills in for the injured sinkerballer.
The simple answer is, “basically the same thing that they could expect from Lowe.” It’s been a flip of the coin whenever either of these two hurlers have taken the mound this year.
In the 15 starts he made before being sent to the bullpen and then Triple-A Gwinnett, Kawakami was 1-9 with a 4.48 ERA. Opponents hit .271 against him and compiled a .326 on-base percentage.
In the 15 starts Lowe had made before his right arm was essentially “worthless” (stole that description from Lowe), he was 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA. Opponents hit .271 and compiled a .336 on-base percentage during this span.
Before being sent to the bullpen, Kawakami was showing occasional signs of improvement. He allowed three earned runs or fewer in eight of his last 11 starts.
During Kawakami’s last eight starts, he went 1-3 with a 3.40 ERA. Opponents hit .254 against him and reached base at a .313 clip.
In the eight starts Lowe made before his hand went numb Sunday, he was 2-4 with a 4.27 ERA. Opponents hit .286 during this stretch and compiled a .330 on-base percentage.
So even while throwing out the five earned runs that Lowe allowed in three innings against the Marlins last Sunday, it’s apparent that you can still argue that Kawakami has been the more effective payroll eyesore this year.
There’s little reason to be encouraged about the fact that Kawakami allowed 26 hits, including five homers, in the 21 innings that he completed for Triple-A Gwinnett in August.
But since I provided some generosity when accounting for Lowe’s numbers, I figure I should provide the reminder that he had been essentially idle for six weeks before heading to the Minors to stretch out his arm and develop a secondary pitch (slider) that he can throw for strikes.
Kawakami didn’t begin throwing this slider until the final week of June. Thus it might not be smart for him to test it against Dan Uggla, who has four hits, including a homer and a double, in nine at-bats against the Japanese right-hander.
I also wouldn’t suggest Kawakami doing anything to infuriate Gaby Sanchez. The Marlins first baseman is in the lineup tonight. Thus I’m going to have to assume he has appealed the the three-game suspension in response to the Bill Goldberg clothesline that he delivered to Nyjer Morgan Wednesday night.
When the Braves pounded Ricky Nolasco for six runs in just two innings Saturday, it was apparent that something might not be right. The Marlins right-hander had notched a 16-strikeout performance and an 11-strikeout performance in two of his three previous starts against Atlanta.
With Nolasco sidelined by a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Marlins will send Andrew Miller to the mound for tonight’s series opener. The once highly-regarded left-hander will be making just his second Major League start this season. He went 1-8 with a 6.01 ERA in 18 starts with Double-A Jacksonville this year.
Add the one win Miller notched for Class A-Advanced Jupiter and we now at least have three combined wins between tonight’s starting pitchers. The Braves and Marlins might light up the scoreboard like the University of Miami did last night on this severely damaged turf.
Wait until you see the dead grass (especially behind second base) on television tonight. You’ll see what I’m talking about.