Struggling Prado could benefit from some rest
Michael Bourn got his chance to catch his breath by being out of the Braves’ lineup for just the second time this season on Wednesday night. When the Braves conclude their four-game series against the Marlins tonight, it will be Martin Prado’s turn to rest.
Prado’s bat looked slow as he grounded into a pair of double plays and went 0-for-5 in Wednesday night’s loss. He has hit .235 with a .272 on-base percentage and .296 slugging percentage in the 27 games he has played since the beginning of July.
Prado has started 75 of the 76 games the Braves have played dating back to when the flu kept him out of the lineup for the first two games of a series played against the Rockies in early May. With this in mind Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to place Reed Johnson in left field on Thursday.
The rejuvenated Mike Minor will take the mound tonight to oppose Nathan Eovaldi and the Marlins. As June neared its end, there was still some reason to wonder how much longer the Braves could afford to keep Minor in their rotation. But as we look toward the season’s final two months there is reason to be excited about what this young left-handed pitcher will do.
Since the start of Spring Training it has been apparent that Minor is much more confident and comfortable than he had been in the past. That genuine confidence helped him keep his sanity as he compiled a 6.20 ERA in the 15 starts he made through the end of June. In addition, it put him in position to do what he did over the past four weeks. <p>
During the month of July, Minor led all National League pitchers in batting average allowed (.172) and all Major League pitchers in on-base percentage allowed (.206). He might have gained even more consideration for NL Pitcher of the Month had he not completed 10 fewer innings than the favorite Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmerman.
This marks the second time that Minor has been paired against Eovaldi, who was acquired by the Marlins from the Dodgers last week in exchange for Hanley Ramirez.
When Minor last opposed Eovaldi on Sept. 3, both pitchers allowed one run in six innings. The Dodgers won the game courtesy of Juan Rivera’s 10th inning sacrifice fly against Anthony Varvaro. Dan Uggla’s second-inning home run accounted for one of the three hits the Braves recorded against Eovaldi.
Since the start of Spring Training there has been a lot of discussion about the drop in velocity of Tommy Hanson’s fastball. Courtesy of Fangraphs.com here is the breakdown of this average velocity over the past four seasons:
2009: 92.9 mph
2010: 92.7 mph
2011: 91.1 mph
2012: 89.8 mph
Some of you have asked about how hard he was throwing when he came to the Majors midway through the 2009 season as the game’s top pitching prospect.
According to BrooksBaseball.net, the average velocity of his four-seam fastball during his Major League debut on June 7, 2009 was 93.56 mph and he topped out at 96.1 mph that afternoon against the Brewers.
During the first five starts of his career, the average velocity of his fastball was 92.9 mph and his average max velocity was 95.3 mph.
During the starts made in July (data available for just five of the six starts), the average velocity of his fastball was 89.58 mph and his average max velocity was 91.68 mph.
To Hanson’s credit, he has made necessary adjustments and managed to find some success while relying more heavily on his curveball and other offspeed pitches. The opportunity to rest while currently on the disabled list with a lower back strain might help him regain the command he has lacked since the All-Star break.
But one year after seeing his season cut short by a sore right shoulder, there is definite reason to wonder if Hanson will ever be the pitcher the Braves envisioned when he reached the Major Leagues with such promise just three years ago.