Resilent Braves attempt to march on without Prado
While limping their way toward the finish line over the course of the past month, the Braves have proven to be a maddening bunch. But if they are preparing for a postseason series at this time next week, they’ll be heralded as the “resilient bunch that gave Bobby Cox one more chance to experience the thrill of the playoffs.”
The Braves gained a half-game lead over the Padres in the National League Wild Card standings last night and lost their most valuable player in the process. Nobody ever guaranteed that Cox’s final days on the bench were going to be a walk in the park.
When Chipper Jones was lost for the season in August, the Braves sat atop the NL East standings and had the comfort of knowing that Martin Prado was more than capable to serve as a reliable third baseman.
Now with Prado sidelined for an undetermined amount of time with the left hip pointer he suffered last night, the Braves have no room for error and only reason to hope that Brooks Conrad continues to serve as their Mr. Clutch.
While serving as Prado’s replacement at third base, Conrad should have little problem serving as a capable defender. At the plate, he might not be able to provide the same kind of consistency.
But given the situation, this might be the prime opportunity for Conrad to shine.
During the first six innings of games this year, Conrad has batted just .190 (11-for-58). In the seventh inning or later, he has compiled a .275 batting average (22-for-80).
In close and late situations, Conrad has compiled a team-best .298 (14-for-47) batting average and tallied 16 RBIs. Jason Heyward has notched a team-best 17 RBIs in these situations with 33 more at-bats than Conrad.
Well the Padres are close and it’s certainly getting late, so maybe this is the prime time for Conrad to soften the blow incurred last night, when Prado limped off the field with the painful injury.
With Prado sidelined, it seemed like Cox might finally heed the wishes of others within the Braves organization by putting Heyward in the third spot of the lineup. But Brian McCann will sit in the three hole tonight.
Heyward has struggled recently, recording just five hits (all singles) in his past 34 at-bats. But while hitting .418 with a 1.216 OPS in the 26 games that preceded this mini-slump, Heyward certainly looked more than capable of producing in that three hole.