Lowe has been here before
Derek Lowe seemed relieved after halting his recent woes with a win at Sun Life Stadium Monday night. Given seven of the first 11 Marlins he faced reached safely, his six-inning effort was anything but picture perfect. But the fact that he surrendered just two runs provided some much-needed confidence to the Braves’ 38-year-old hurler.
Six days earlier, Lowe had surrendered seven earned runs in four innings against the Nationals and fallen to 3-6 with a 6.54 over his previous 10 starts. His troubles were magnified as both Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson lost their Cy Young Award candidacy with their own might struggles since the All-Star break.
Now with Jurrjens on the disabled list and Hanson seemingly battling some kind of ailment (likely shoulder), Lowe needs to step up and justify some of his $15 million salary. A postseason contender should not feel real good about the possibility of gaining much value from a guy who has gone 7-10 with a 4.78 ERA in his first 25 starts of the season.
Recent history shows, Lowe is not exactly in uncharted waters. For those Braves fans who already remember how he finished each of the past three seasons, I understand why you are having a tough time determining whether this should make you feel good or more discouraged.
Through his first 25 starts last year, Lowe was 11-10 with a 4.29 ERA. He proved mediocre in the next three outings before skipping a start to deal with right elbow discomfort. Then out of nowhere Captain Surprise went 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in five September starts.
The conclusion was not anywhere near as magical but last year’s dramatic turnaround conjured memories of 2004, when Lowe was removed from the starting rotation during the season’s final week and then went 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in four postseason appearances (three starts) for the Red Sox. Each of his three wins that October came in series clinchers.
Like Red Sox fans four years earlier, Dodgers fans were down on Lowe when he was 9-10 with a 4.11 ERA through his first 25 starts of 2008. Then out of nowhere, he went 5-1 with a 0.94 ERA in his final nine starts and served as the club’s Game 1 starter in both the Division Series and League Championship Series.
Lowe’s late-season charge in 2008 helped him land his four-year, $60 million contract in Atlanta.
After going 12-7 with a 4.08 ERA in his first 25 starts with the Braves in 2009, Lowe proceeded to go 3-3 with a 6.65 ERA in his final nine starts.
So after careful analysis, it has been concluded that Lowe is only capable of finishing a season strong whenever his ERA is above 4.10 after 25 starts.
Not sure that kind of deductive reasoning is going to provide charter membership to any kind of Saber club. But those who have watched Lowe over the years have come to realize it would be easier to get a hit off him than it would be to predict what he will do.
Uggla Watch: Dan Uggla will attempt to extend his Major League-best hitting streak to 30 games while facing his close friend Clay Hensley and the Marlins tonight. Uggla went hitless in his first two at-bats against Hensley on July 29 and then extended his streak with a game-winning, three-run homer in the seventh inning.
Uggla pushed the streak to 29 games with a fifth-inning infield single in Monday night’s win over the Marlins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he has had eight infield hits during his hitting streak and only had six in the 86 games he had played before it began.
Odds and ends: The Braves were still thinking about skipping Tommy Hanson’s next scheduled turn Friday and having him return with five extra days’ of rest next Tuesday. With Thursday’s offday, each of the other rotation members would make their next start with regular rest.
Last night marked just the eighth time in 24 games since the All-Star break that a Braves starting pitcher allowed two earned runs or fewer. Tim Hudson has accounted for four of those starts and Brandon Beachy has accounted for two.
Braves starting pitchers have gone with a 5.35 ERA since the All-Star break. They were 39-25 with a 3.23 ERA before the break.
Veteran umpire Hunter Wendelstedt tossed both Fredi Gonzalez and Freddie Freeman during Monday night’s game. Freeman said it was the first time he had ever been ejected from a sporting event in his life.
According to umpireejections.blogspot.com Wendelstedt’s only two previous ejections this year came July 31, when he had to toss Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Jared Weaver after Weaver threw at Tigers catcher Alex Avila. This was part of the Buntgate madness that developed while Justin Verlander was throwing a no-hitter.