Braves pitching staff producing impressive numbers
Evaluating the Braves through their first 20 games, I wrote “there isn’t a lot to like about this team right now.” My opinion has obviously changed as they have won 12 of the 16 games that have followed. In fact, I’d even say there wasn’t a whole lot to dislike during three of the four losses (blew two late leads to Cards and allowed baseball gods to frustrate them with Kyle Kendrick again) they’ve incurred during this span.
One of the keys to the Braves’ resurgence has been their starting rotation which has gone 9-1 with a 2.06 ERA in the past 17 games. The starters rank first in the National League with a 2.90 ERA. Philadelphia’s celebrated rotation ranks second with a 3.14 ERA.
It’s probably far too early to even mention this, but I will anyhow. The 2.91 ERA produced in 1968 was the best mark produced by starting pitchers in Braves history. Of course pitching was so good everywhere that season that Major League Baseball opted to lower the pitcher’s mound in 1969.
The second-best ERA posted by Braves’ starters was the 2.95 ERA produced by the 1992 club. A few months after this mark was posted, John Schuerholz still had the urge to sign some guy named Greg Maddux.
As we come back to this year, it’s obvious it hasn’t just been the starters who have subdued opponents throughout the season. The Braves pitching staff’s 2.85 ERA also leads the NL. During this strong 16-game surge the staff has posted a 2.35 ERA and recorded 124 strikeouts in a span of 535 at-bats.
That last strikeout stat was thrown out there simply because the swing-and-miss Nats have arrived to begin a three-game series in Atlanta tonight.
While winning just six of their past 14 games, the Nationals have hit .221 and struck out 124 times in 444 at-bats. Yes the Adam Dunn-less Nats have struck out once every 3.58 at-bats during this 14-game stretch.
As they attempt to right themselves they have been given the task of facing Tim Hudson in tonight’s series opener. Coming off his masterful one-hit shutout of the Brewers, Hudson will be attempting to extend his mastery of the Nationals.
Are you impressed when you read: Hudson is 11-2 with a 1.88 ERA in 19 starts against the Nationals? Or is it more impressive to see: Hudson has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 17 of his 19 starts against the Nationals?
Hudson have the luxury of having Alex Gonzalez playing shortstop tonight. But Gonzalez doesn’t seem concerned about the minor left groin strain that led him to exit Sunday night’s game. After taking batting practice Tuesday evening, he said he thinks he could return to the lineup Wednesday.
In other ailment-related news, Derek Lowe played catch today and had no problems with the blister that developed on his right foot with his no-hit bid still intact Friday night.
Lowe will start Thursday night’s series finale against the Nationals and Brandon Beachy will start Friday night’s series opener against the Phillies. This means Jair Jurrjens will be pitching with an extra day of rest when he returns to the mound Saturday.