Lots of uncertainty within Braves rotation

After the Braves swept the first two games of last week’s series against the Giants, one of the club’s veterans was casually talking about how they had entered the week thinking they would be in good position if they could split that four-game series against the defending World Series and then take two of three from the D-backs.

At this time last week, the Braves owned a four-game advantage over the second-place Giants in the National League Wild Card race and they were two games better than the D-backs, who stood as the other most likely Wild Card threat in the event that the Giants overtook them in the NL West standings.

Well after taking three of four from the Giants and sweeping the D-backs, the Braves enter tonight’s series opener against the Cubs with an eight-game lead over the Giants.   The D-backs now stand just 1 1/2 games in front of the Giants, but are 6 1/2 games behind the Braves.

Things could certainly turn crazy over the season’s final 34 games and you definitely aren’t going to hear anybody in the Braves clubhouse saying they have clinched anything yet.  But it’s been a little while since they have been able to be this comfortable this late in a season.

As you likely remember, the Braves clinched last year’s playoff spot a few hours after they had played their 162nd and final scheduled game of the regular season.    On the way to winning the last of their 14 consecutive division titles in 2005, the Braves owned a 2 1/2-game division lead over the Phillies, who were leading the Wild Card at that point.

Through the 128th games of the 2003 and ’04 seasons, the Braves possessed division leads of 11 1/2 and 9 1/2 games, respectively.   So in essence it has been seven years since you the fan has entered August’s final week feeling this confident that you will see the Braves in October.

As the Braves continue to fight to secure a second straight playoff spot, the focus will be on their once reliable starting rotation.  Tim Hudson has gone 8-1 with a 1.91 ERA over his past 12 starts and as things stand today, he seemingly stands as the only current Atlanta starter who will definitely get a postseason start.

Brandon Beachy has certainly pitched well enough to earn a playoff start.  But it will be interesting to see how the 24-year-old reacts down the stretch as he nears the end of the first full season of his life as a starting pitcher.   Looking back, it might have been a blessing that he missed a little more than a month with a strained oblique muscle earlier this year.

But Beachy, who became a full-time starter about 14 months ago, has already thrown 108 1/3 (113 1/3 if you include rehab start w/ Gwinnett)  innings in 19 starts this season.  He set professional highs last year with 119 1/3 innings and 13 starts.

If the Braves are able to keep their comfortable advantage, Beachy is certainly somebody who could benefit from the chance to rest a little bit in September.  But right now, there is no way to confidently predict how he might perform down the stretch.

Tommy Hanson has certainly benefited from the fact the Braves have gained an even more comfortable advantage in the Wild Card race.  But given that he was still feeling tightness when he returned from the disabled list to face the Mariners in June 28, the Braves needed to give him as much time as necessary this time to calm the tendinitis in his right shoulder.

It now sounds like the Braves might wait until at least the first week of September to bring Hanson back.

Speaking of September, Derek Lowe will once again have a chance to make a surprising run through September and suddenly become a no-doubt member of the postseason rotation.   He did it last year and in 2008 for the Dodgers.

Of course he was also removed from the Red Sox rotation in late September of 2004.  But he did still manage to record the win in each of the three postseason series during that magical year for Boston fans.

So you can’t completely remove Lowe from the mix yet.  Nor can you be certain what you will think of Jair Jurrjens by the time October arrives.

Over the past few seasons fans have pointed out Jurrjens’ BaBIP (Batting Average Balls in Play) and other statistics while arguing that he was not as good as his ERA might indicate.    I understand the arguments and believe they have at least some merit.

But instead of crunching those numbers right now, it’s quite safe to assume most knew Jurrjens was not going to maintain the sub 2.00 ERA he carried into the All-Star break.  At the same time, I don’t think anybody expected he would post a 6.52 ERA and allow opponents to construct a .939 OPS in his first five starts back from the break.

As long as Jurrjens proves to be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes over the remainder of the season, there’s a good chance he will be part of that postseason rotation.

After his last start Jurrjens and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he looked a little rusty while pitching for the first time in a little more than two weeks.

Well if that essentially served as his Minor League rehab start then tonight’s outing against the Cubs might be a better indicator of what to expect from Jurrjens down the stretch.

 

45 Comments

I wonder if Minor will have enough left in the Tank to make a postseason start or 2 or 3.

I said we should of traded JJ or hansen in mid season. I hope we trade at least one of them at the end of the year.

This is why you aren’t GM. You don’t trade a productiveveteran member of your rotation midseason in a playoff race.

WHy not? Hardly crushed it since then have they?

Dude, can you spell his name right for once? H-A-N-S-O-N. And he’s under team control until the 2016 season, so trading him would rank under dumbest moves of all time. Jurjjens will get a hefty raise in the off-season, so it makes sense to trade him, but you can’t do that in the middle of a postseason run. D-U-M-B.

Hope you have the MLB.Tv Bill; Schafer makes his triumphant return tonight for the Astros.

Sweet!! I’m rooting for him.

Yeah, he tweeted me that he was starting and batting leadoff. Good Luck Jordan.

Gonzo swings at 4 that are a foot outside, 1 that is over his head and then strikes out. That’s a good AB because he didn’t hit into a DP.

+1

Can Prado not play SS? I mean, I’d much rather see him at short to get Heyward some time in the field. I know that’s not a long term solution with Salcedo, Lipka, Pastornicky and Simmons all waiting in the wings at SS (anyone notice almost all our prospects are pitchers and shortstops?), but I don’t like seeing Heyward on the bench night after night.

And I hate to say this the day after Gonzo was the hero, but there’s no long term upside to watching him play through a slump. Heyward is still part of our future, and I want to see him in the lineup. Just not at the expense of Constanza right now.

Man, that’s when you know your really wild. Dempster just walked Gonzo, his 1st in August

Oh man, Constanza rolled his ankle. Muck Fe.

He walked off on his own after rolling the ankle, so he’ll probably be ok. hopefully. i still want heyward to get more playing time, but i love that little constanza dude.

And bravenorth.. Prado is awful at SS.

I had a feeling that was the case… too bad. Hopefully Constanza is fine and this injury is NOT a solution to the “get Heyward playing time” conundrum.

Heyward Dumpty is gonna get some ABs while Georgies get’s the soreness out. Welcome back Bravenorth, long time no see.

Again, why is George Sherrill on this team?? We have two lefties, and Vizcaino’s emergence has made Linebrink a 6th inning mop up guy. With our young arms, there is no reason to have a veteran lefty that only comes in for 2/3 of an inning. Cant we just trade him for a new knee brace for Chipper?

What were the cubs thinking? They threw Gonzo a strike. Geez. He couldn’t hit it either, guess he’s too used to swinging at balls.

Sherrill is warming up for the save. Speedy you had to go and say something didn’t you.

Jonny looks exhausted

If he saves this it is on sheer will alone.

Nice win. We haven’t let up a run since the first inning on Saturday. Wow.

Talk about hoping for someone to fail. What a little prick you are.

He wasnt hoping he failed though. Maybe you should learn to read bill. Rather than ust type your own things.

Shut up zippy, you are an idiot.

Speedy, because Sherrill has actually pitched pretty well this year and at this point I would rather see him up against righties instead of Linebrink. We need Teheran and Delgado in Gwinnett’s rotation in case of emergency, and there’s really no one else who I think would outperform Big George.

Yeah, he pitches great for 1-2 batters… Once Moylan comes back, I can’t see Sherrill, or Linebrink for that matter, pitching in any sort of pressure situation.maybe they can at least mop up some games and save our big three (or four if you count Arodys) for the playoffs.

So if the playoffs started the way the teams are set now, it would be Braves vs Brewers, Phils vs Giants/D-Backs, correct? We are 5-3 against the Brewers and swept them in a 4 game series at home in the last meeting. As it stands, the Phils would crush either of the teams from the West. Though the way we are playing I wouldn’t rule out us winning the East. 6 games against the Phrillies in September..

The starting pitching has come roaring back. My only concern is Fredo setting the rotation for a playoff series. I think we match up well if properly managed, but Fredo has a bit of a “roll the dice” approach to lineups and managing. That isn’t gonna fly in the playoffs when a plan is required. I know that we have had some SP injury issues of late but our manager needs to figure out how he is gonna rest this bullpen in prep for the playoffs.They are exhausted right now. Even EJ was just dragging his ass tonite Should we be playing for the East Championship or keeping our powder dry for October? How much more should we be stressing rookies Beachy and Kimbrel? Should Lowe be a starter in a short series? So many questions to be answered.

Huddy has earned a spot, and I’m assuming JJ would be a starter was well. That leaves Tommy, Lowe, and Beachy. Tommy probably has the best stuff, Lowe has the most experience in the post season, and Beachy has probably pitched the best of the three. That makes the decision interesting…all have points for capturing the third spot

There will be 4 spots if the Braves are like everyone else. It is rare that a team goes with only 3 in the playoffs these days, even with all the days off.

“Shut up zippy, you are an idiot.” – As intelligent as always thanks mate

I think the depth at the moment will let us keep performing at an optimal level, since Constanza basically gives Chipper a chance to rest more than once a week. Same with Minor, Delgado, Vizcaino, etc.. We can wait on Hanson and Moylan without tiring anyone out or rushing anyone back. Beachy’s injury earlier in the season was actually very beneficial for us in keeping his innings pitched down, and maybe the same will come of Tommy’s shoulder soreness, though that’s a more troublesome situation.

Seeing as Fredi is the type of manager he is I would be shocked to see Lowe out of the post season rotation, unless he really tanks in September. Huddy is our #1 at the moment, and Tommy’s inclusion should depend on his performance in September though I would definitely include him, sans Sept collapse. JJ–although having some of the best numbers on the club–would be my odd man out. Yes, he pitched a 6 2/3 inning shutout last night, but it might’ve been the ugliest shutout i’ve ever seen. I would rather see Beachy in the post season rotation. His composure is off the charts and his K/BB numbers are fantastic. John Smoltz returned to the rotation after being the most dominant closer in the game for a reason; he said power starting pitching wins in the post-season. Of the Smoltz / Maddux / Glavine trio, only Smoltz has a winning record in the post-season. Hudson / Hanson / Lowe / Beachy. I don’t want to see JJ dancing around a couple of baserunners an inning and almost every batter putting the ball in play. That doesn’t fly in the postseason. Of course if he is lights out for the rest of the season, I will be singing a different tune, but that’s my opinion up to this point.

Teams that go with a three-man rotation in the post-season so because they only have three reliable starters, and the one at the top of the list is incredibly durable. We have eight. I would rather even see Teheran start than have Hudson potentially pitch 4+ games in the postseason prior to the WS.

4 man rotation – that way you are pitching your # 1 RESTED in game 5 if needed.

Also looking forward to the September call ups. We can get Delgotto and Teheran another start or two each and rest Huddy, Lowe, JJ and company a little. Would love to see the young bucks start against the Phils!! See the future!!

How about a 3 game sweep in Philly to make things a little interesting? Sounds good to me.

How bout we sweep all 6 games left against em. Sounds much better imo. We always play them tough. Righ now i’d love to find a way not to face the brewers before the nlcs. They have been on a hell of a tear. And yes I know so far we have had the best of them but it’ll be a tough series I think.

How about the Braves never lose a game again for another 100 years, and all of them perfect games and all 27 outs are 3 pitch strike outs, since you have these delusional dreams about sweeping the Phils.

If u don’t have the confidence that the braves could sweep the phils then your not too much of a braves fan imo. I don’t actually expect it to happen but I believe that we can. Some time u just gotta have faith.

You are right, I am not much of a Braves fan, because I’m a ” pfrillies” fan, although I do like and respect the Braves and admit it looks like they have a bright future. But this is not your year, hope too see youse in the LCS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,030 other followers

%d bloggers like this: