Braves struggling to find consistency since the break

When the Braves last visited New York City during the first week of June, Dan Uggla was hitting .172 and many of you were wondering if the Braves’ key offseason addition was ever going to live up to expectations.

One month later as you celebrated the Fourth of July and Uggla was hitting .173, many of you were probably cursing him even louder and wondering just how good the Braves could be if their second baseman ever started making consistent offensive contributions.

Well as the Braves prepare to begin a three-game series against the Mets at Citi Field tonight, Uggla is in the midst of a 25-game hitting streak and the Braves look like they did when they were nothing more than mediocre during the season’s first three weeks.

While Uggla has batted .354 with 11 homers and a 1.171 OPS during his 25-game hitting streak, the Braves’ starting pitchers have stumbled and their hitters have nearly perfected the art of squandering scoring opportunities.

In the process of splitting their first 20 games since the All-Star break, the Braves have won one 19-inning affair and claimed three victories in games that they trailed by at least three runs.

Instead of crediting the fight they have shown to win these games, it’s seemingly more important to focus on what they must do to make sure they don’t completely squander the five-game lead they possessed in the National League Wild Card chase heading into the All-Star break.

It’s obvious the Braves need their MVP Brian McCann back in the middle of their lineup as soon as possible.  At the same time, the past couple weeks have proven just have valuable Chipper Jones was as he spent the season’s first three months serving as a consistent run producer.

At the same time, the Braves have to pitch much better than they have while posting a 4.27 ERA since the All-Star break.  Their starters have gone 6-8 with  a 5.28 ERA during this span.   The Braves entered the All-Star break with a 3.11 team ERA and their starting pitchers posted a 3.23 ERA during this stretch.

Since entering the All-Star break with an NL-best 1.87 ERA, Jair Jurrjens has made four starts and posted a 6.26 ERA.  Tommy Hanson’s ERA has risen from 2.44 to 3.20 as he has struggled during the early innings of three of his past four starts.

While Jurrjens likely won’t match his first-half dominance, he is quite capable of turning things around quickly.  At the same time, as long as Hanson’s inconsistencies aren’t a product of a sore shoulder, there should be limited concerns about his ability to soon regain his successful form.

As long as Jurrjens and Hanson turn things around like Tim Hudson has over the past two months, the Braves shouldn’t have to concern themselves with the hope Derek Lowe matches the dominance he displayed last September.

Getting Jurrjens and Hanson back on track seems to be the Braves’ greatest concern.  General manager Frank Wren upgraded his lineup with the addition of Michael Bourn.   Now he simply needs some of his position players to remember what it’s like to consistently produce timely hits.

The Braves hit .271 with runners in scoring position before the All-Star break and .252 w/ RISP in their 20 games leading up to the break.  As much as it seems they have squandered too many scoring opportunities recently, they have hit .257 w/ RISP in their first 20 games since the break.

Most of the frustration has built while they have hit just .224 with runners in scoring position over their past 12 games.

Jones is hoping to return to the lineup tonight and if he remains healthy enough to be a consistent part of the lineup, the frustrations surrounding this offense could significantly decrease.    He has hit .397 with runners in scoring position this year.

Over the next couple weeks, the Braves should be able to once again begin constructing lineups that include both Jones and McCann.  Once they do, Bourn’s value will be better realized and that disgust many of you have been feeling the past couple weeks should subside.

 

 

23 Comments

Mark, do you have anything to report on BMac?

Mark won’t have anything else to post for the next week. I’ve gotta get a job like this

Yeah because that’s all Mark does, right. He just posts a blog update and then flies to Cancun for the week. What do you actually know about what he does for a living? Do you have any clue what his job entails? Do you really think he is a professional blog-writer, and this blog is his masterpiece, the one and only thing he can hang his hat on when the day is done?

Great read Mark.

Looking forward to Chipper AND Mac being back. Hopefully Chipper can stay healthy for the stretch run. You gotta figure if he struggles of gets injured again, he may just hang-em up? Also curious as to what Fredi is going to do with Costanza. He is hot right now and having that speed along with Bourn is refreshing. But if Heyward is going to get it going he needs regular work, whether its here in the line-up or dare I say a couple weeks in the minors? Can you imagine what this offense could do if Heyward was up to par, Chipper was healthy, Mac was back, Bourn, Prado, and Uggla and Freeman the way they have been going……? Dare I say unstoppable?

Gotta get the arms going though. I think Beachy will be fine and Huddy is doing great. I agree, if JJ and Hanson can get back on track, then issues with Lowe can be absorbed, though it sure would be nice to have him as Lowe ala September 2010.

Word on McLouth is a sports hernia. He won’t be back until game #150 at the earliest.

Guess that makes adding the RH bat an easy decision. If only someone would go get one, hmmmm, anybody know ANYONE who can get a RH bat?

If only it were that easy after the non-waiver deadline…

Oh the scraps that QTip likes will be available.

Granted. I’d hope that FW wouldn’t get a bat just because he’s there. That’s Yankee front-office management.

Ok, so I now have a man crush on Consanza. He looks awesome. I think that could have been an inside the park HR. I am still looking for the hole in his game that caused him to be in the minors so long, I guess tomorrow is going to be interesting. You can’t sit this guy. Maybe it is time for Heyward to get that much talked about minor league assigment? I guess Prado can move around a bit and keep everyone Fresh – one day at second, one day at first.

I like Georgie, too. Way to go Danny.

You can’t hold Dan down anymore. You just can’t.

Well, you can always count on Pop-Up Gonzalez to end the inning.

Rookie of the year race between Kimbrel and Freeman….. Who else can compete?

Someone’s always making a case for Danny Espinosa… but Freeman’s numbers are almost identical AND he’s batting near .300.
Only pitcher close to Kimbrel would be Dillon Gee… but an interesting note on Kimbrel is that he’s 2nd among rookie pitchers in Ks.
So, really, no one else is close. I’m calling conspiracy if someone else wins it.

With the 2nd half numbers the 2 of them are posting(often the death knell of a rookie). It’s gonna be really difficult to deny them. I think Freeman gets it because he is a hitter AND a great defensive player. The voters always have a hard time voting for a pitcher, no matter how dominating, for ROY or MVP. I hope that the vote doesn’t get split between the 2 of them because we will be up against major media bias.

Does anyone know if there’s ever been a tie for ROY? Having them both share it would be awesome. I really don’t know how any Braves fan could possibly choose between them.

I wouldn’t leave Worley out of this conversation…

Eric Hinske was ROY in AL in 2002. His line was almost the same as Freeman’s is this year. But it was Hinske’s best year. What does that tell you? Freeman is the front runner for ROY thus far. His RBIs should go up now that Bourn is in front of him without his having to do anything different. Is he in it for the long haul? Only time will tell.

Bill I agree Freeman will probably get the nod over Kimbrel, but it is very impressive to be an effective closer as a rookie.

Pherris, ROY from Florida two years ago is in AAA now……ROY does not always predict success. Tom Glavine had a horrible rookie year.

Speedy, I believe what u said is exactly what pherris was getting at.

derp derp derp…

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