Odds and ends: Beachy proves he can be successful without his slider

Brandon Beachy displayed a sense of satisfaction as he stood in front of his locker following Saturday’s 12-inning win over the Phillies.   While pitching into the seventh inning of the long contest, the Braves right-hander had proven that he can be successful despite the fact that he does not currently have the luxury to rely on his slider.

Beachy’s slider was the prime secondary pitch that he displayed before undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.  According to FanGraphs, 18.3 percent of the pitches he threw before injuring his elbow last year were sliders.  This essentially matched the combined percentages of his two other secondary pitches   –  curveball (9.3 percent) and changeup (9.5 percent).

Through the two starts he has made over the past week, it has been evident that he does not yet have enough confidence in his surgically-repaired elbow to consistently command his slider.   According to BrooksBaseball, Beachy threw  19 sliders as he labored through 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies on Monday and then just two sliders during Saturday’s outing in Philadelphia.

After hanging a slider that Phillies outfielder John Mayberry hit into the left field seats for a two-run homer in the second inning, Beachy essentially ditched the pitch.  The only other time he threw came via a 1-2 waste pitch to reliever Zach Miner, whose only previous big league plate appearances came in 2006 (6) and 2009 (1).

But while complimenting his fastball with the curveball and changeup, Beachy had little trouble during his four full innings of work.  After allowing hits to three of the first four batters he faced in the second inning, he retired 14 of the next 16 batters he faced and did not allow a hit during this span.

<p> “I’m a better pitcher with (the slider),” Beachy said after the game. “I’m going to keep working on it in the bullpens and eventually I’ll get the feel for that back and have that as a weapon.”  </P>

While there is a chance Beachy will begin commanding the slider again before the end of this season, none of us should be surprised if we do not see this pitch become a primary weapon again until he has a chance to strengthen his arm and gain more confidence in his elbow this winter.   But for now it appears he can continue to at least be effective while placing a much greater emphasis on his changeup and curveball.

As the Braves attempt to complete a three-game series sweep of the Phillies tonight, they will intently watch Alex Wood with the hope that he extends the success he produced during his strong seven-inning effort against the Rockies on Tuesday.  Two of the three runs Wood surrendered in this outing came courtesy of the misplaced 1-1 fastball that Nolan Arenado hit into the left field seats with two outs in the second inning,  which is when Wood was bothered by a cracked cuticle on his right index finger.

When Wood has been occasionally bothered by this cuticle over the past couple months, he has been forced to ditch his curveball  –  a pitch that might have been effective against Arenado in that situation.   Thanks to some quick assistance from the Braves’ medical staff between the second and third innings, Wood was able to complete the rest of the outing without any further problems or restrictions.   He threw a total of 18 curves during the game and retired 14 of the last 17 batters he faced.

Wood will likely need to be similarly efficient in tonight’s matchup against Cliff Lee, who has posted a 1.38 ERA in his past seven starts against Atlanta.  The only runs the Braves have tallied against Lee this year came during the four-run seventh they produced during a July 5 loss in Philadelphia.

Of course Lee also faces a great challenge as he attempts to cool a Braves offense that has averaged 6.9 runs during the team’s current nine-game winning streak.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I might be among those who have placed too great of an emphasis on runners in scoring position stats.  At the time, I was pointing out that the Pirates and Braves ranked as the NL’s two worst teams in this category and still possessed two of the NL’s top records.

Well the Pirates still own the NL’s worst batting average with RISP and entered Sunday with the Senior Circuit’s best winning percentage.  As for the Braves, they ranked last in this category when July began and now own the NL’s third-best mark.

While going 21-11 dating back to June 28, the Braves have hit .319 (88-for-276) with RISP.   They had batted just .225 with RISP during the 77 games that preceded this stretch.

NOTES:  If the Braves beat the Phillies tonight, they will have swept nine of the NL’s 16 teams in a series consisting of at least three games…Atlanta’s 11 1/2-game division lead is the largest they have had through 111 games since the 2002 team had a 17 1/2-game advantage…According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the five hits the Braves recorded on Saturday was the fewest they have had in a game that lasted 12 innings or longer since the famous game they won against Pittsburgh’s Harvey Haddix on May 26, 1959.  Haddix proved perfect through 12 innings that day and ended up allowing just one hit  –  Joe Adcock’s game-winning double with two outs in the 13th inning.  Lew Burdette scattered 12 hits over 13 scoreless innings to get the win for Milwaukee.

Braves are hoping a refreshed B.J. Upton strengthens their red-hot offense

After totaling 40 runs and producing a .999 OPS in this week’s four-game series against the Rockies at Turner Field, the Braves will spend the next three days at Citizens Bank Park facing three Phillies starting pitchers, none of whom are named Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels.   This  is kind of like asking the third round Masters’ leader if he would like to finish the weekend by making the move from Augusta National to Augusta Municipal.

We have not gained a sample size large enough to know whether it is just a coincidence that the Braves have enjoyed their recent offensive surge right after manager Fredi Gonzalez finally moved Andrelton Simmons out of the leadoff spot and replaced him with Jason Heyward.  But it’s pretty safe to assume we’re going to see Heyward at the top of the order for a while and quite possibly for the remainder of the season.

Dating back to Spring Training, Heyward has been the most popular candidate in the “Anyone But Simmons Should Bat Leadoff Campaign.”   Gonzalez waited until last Friday to move him into this role.  When asked why, he told reporters “I succumbed.”   I guess he was just sick of replying, “Because we don’t have Rickey Henderson” every time he was asked ‘why are you still batting Simmons in the leadoff spot?’

While handling the leadoff role throughout  the perfect seven-game homestand completed on Thursday night, Heyward batted .321 with a .424 on-base percentage.  The five walks he drew in the 33 plate appearances compiled during this span were nine fewer than the total Simmons has drawn while compiling a .290 on-base percentage in 288 plate appearances as a leadoff hitter this year.

With more than three months worth of data, we were able to confidently deduce that Simmons was one of the game’s worst leadoff hitters.  Seven games has not provided us enough to confidently know how Heyward will fare in this role moving forward.  But he’s seemingly been the best candidate for a long time and the early results have certainly not altered this belief.

Now that the old and tired leadoff debate has been put on the back burner, it is time to discuss the new hot topic, which is what will the Braves do when B.J. Upton ends his Minor League rehab assignment tonight and returns to Atlanta’s lineup on Saturday.

While some in the Twitter world have said they hope the Braves don’t mess with what they’ve got going by putting Upton back in the lineup immediately, this obviously isn’t going to happen.  Nor should it.  This is the first year of a five-year, $75.25 million agreement with an extremely talented player who has simply played well below expectations since the start of the season.

If the club was confident enough to make this kind of financial obligation to him, there is no reason for them to not be confident in his ability to perform much greater than he has while hitting .177 with eight home runs and a .565 OPS through his first 84 games in Atlanta.  The pressure of the contract, the challenge of changing from the American League to the National League have been cited as explanations to explain these struggles that have weighed on B.J. enough to the point that he has reached out to veteran friends from around the league and told them that he is committed to making the changes necessary to turn things around.

The Braves are hoping the injury (strained right adductor muscle) Upton suffered just before the All-Star break proves to be a blessing in disguise.  If nothing else, it has given the veteran outfielder a chance to have a brand new start and aim to end this season like he did last year, when he hit .252 with 19 home runs, 12 stolen bases and a .876 OPS in his final 57 games with Tampa.

While spending the past few days completing his rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett, Upton has been reunited with Braves’ hitting guru Lee Elia, a Tampa-area resident who has worked with Upton in the offseason during recent years.

Braves hitting coach Greg Walker was pleased with what he saw from Upton during batting practice earlier this week and the club was further encouraged on Thursday night when Upton went 3-for-4 for Gwinnett.

Upton’s return will end Evan Gattis’ recent stint as one of Atlanta’s regular outfielders.  This will upgrade the club’s outfield  defense and bench.

Gattis has hit just .246 with one home run and a .570 OPS in the 15 games he has played since returning from the disabled list on July 14.   In the 26 games he has played dating back to May 31, he has hit .195 (17-for-87) with three homers and a .563 OPS.

Despite Gattis’ struggles over the past two months, opposing managers are not going to be comfortable going into the late innings with the reality that his powerful bat is on the Braves’ bench.  They will be well aware of the fact that he has gone 6-for-8 with four home runs and two walks in 10 pinch-hit plate appearances.  That success rate is utterly ridiculous.

Now, if Upton returns and resumes his struggles over the next couple of weeks, the Braves will not allow his contract prevent them from making the decision to give Jordan Schafer a chance to play center field on a frequent basis.

But for now, the Braves are simply looking toward the next couple weeks and months with the hope that this is a new beginning for Upton, one that will allow him to prove he is capable of strengthening a lineup that has finally started to live up to expectations.

NOTES:  The Braves enter this weekend’s series with an 11 1/2-game lead in the National League East standings.  This is their largest division lead since Sept. 21, 2003…Thursday night’s win allowed the Braves to complete their first perfect homestand of at least seven games since they swept a nine-game homestand against the Phillies, Pirates and Dodgers in April 2000.

 

 

No need for the Braves to attempt to upgrade rotation via the thin trade market

As Brandon Beachy labored through last night’s outing against the Rockies on Monday night, it became more apparent why before losing Tim Hudson last week,  the Braves were at least contemplating the option of allowing Beachy to make one more Minor League rehab start.

Beachy’s bid to become one of the few pitchers who have ever encountered a smooth return from Tommy John surgery quickly evaporated as he allowed seven earned runs and eight hits in just 3 2/3 innings.  All was not lost as he displayed his normal velocity  –  his fastball rested between 91-92 mph  –  and exited this 84-pitch outing healthy.

But when Beachy makes his next start on Saturday against the Phillies, the Braves can only hope that he displays more consistency with his slider and simply looks more comfortable than he did while making his first big league start in over a year last night.

Beachy’s less-than impressive effort did not seemingly alter the Braves plan to stay away from the less-than-impressive starting pitching market that exists leading up to tomorrow afternoon’s Trade Deadline.  The potential cost of landing Jake Peavy remains far too steep and as has been mentioned multiple times over the past few days the Braves never had contact with the Royals regarding Ervin Santana, who is expected to stay in Kansas City.

After losing Hudson, the Braves did their due diligence and at least discussed the possibility of attempting to land a frontline starting pitcher.  Peavy and Santana were the only pitchers that even piqued their interest.

As the Braves evaluate the potential makeup of their starting rotation for the remainder of this season, they will certainly have great interest in how Alex Wood performs against the Rockies tonight.  Wood has totaled 7 1/3 innings in his only two previous Major League starts.  But it’s not necessarily fair to judge him on those outings  — both against the Mets.

Wood’s June 18 start came three weeks after he had left Double-A Mississippi’s rotation to join Atlanta’s bullpen.  His four-inning performance at Citi Field last week was just the third start (Major League and Minor League combined) that he had made since late May.   Had Paul Maholm not injured his wrist five days earlier, Wood might have had a chance to make at least two starts with Triple-A Gwinnett before making his return to the Majors.

If Wood proves effective tonight, and again on Sunday in Philadelphia, the Braves might at least gain some confidence that he would be capable of filling a rotation spot if necessary during the regular season’s final two months.  But with the expectation that Maholm will be ready to rejoin the rotation on Monday, Wood might spend the next couple of weeks either in Atlanta’s bullpen or Gwinnett’s rotation.

Yeah, I know that I am the one who has indicated the possibility that Wood could replace Kris Medlen in the starting rotation.  That was simply a product of the reporting process.  Those were not my thoughts alone and it was a mindset that was developed before the Braves lost Hudson’s veteran presence from their rotation.

Medlen provided some signs of encouragement as he displayed improved fastball command while limiting the Cardinals to two earned runs in six innings on Sunday night.  This year has been a battle from the start for the ever-competitive Medlen, who has simply not found the form that enabled him to post a 0.97 ERA in the 12 starts he made after joining the rotation at this time last year.

Still it is hard to ignore the fact that Medlen has posted the fourth-best ERA (2.63) among all qualified Major League starting pitchers dating back to July 31, 2012.  The only pitchers who rank in front of him are Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey and Bartolo Colon.

There is certainly reason to wonder if Beachy will gain his previous dominant form before the start of next season.  But regardless of how he fares, the Braves already possess the pieces to form a rotation that can preserve the club’s comfortable lead atop the National League East standings and also prove competitive once the postseason arrives.

Those who have pushed for the Braves to upgrade their starting rotation have asked if the team would feel comfortable pitting either Julio Teheran or Mike Minor against Kershaw in the first game of a postseason series.  To this I ask, how many pitchers would actually fit this bill?  Regardless of who you chose to put in this select list, he is not available on this year’s thin trade market.

To play off Rick Pitino’s famous line during his days with the Boston Celtics, “John Smoltz is not walking through that door fans. Tom Glavine is not walking through that door and Greg Maddux is not walking through that door.  And if you expect them to walk through that door, they’re going to be grey and old.”

T

 

Braves acquire Downs from the Angels

The Braves got the left-handed reliever they have been seeking when they acquired Scott Downs from the Angels in exchange for right-handed Minor League pitcher Cory Rasmus early Monday afternoon.

Downs has compiled a 1.84 ERA in 43 appearances for the Angels this season.  The 37-year-old southpaw has limited left-handed hitters to a .196 batting average and .255 on-base percentage.  Right-handed hitters have batted .286 with a .385 on-base percentage against him.

Braves general manager Frank Wren’s focus over the past few weeks has been to improve the depth of his bullpen.  With the acquisition of Downs, he has gained a veteran reliever who is capable of reducing the workload top setup men Luis Avilan and Jordan Walden incur during the regular season’s final two months.

Downs is owed approximately $1.6 million over the remainder of this season. He is in the final year of a three-year contract.

Rasmus has compiled a  1.37 ERA in 37 relief appearances with Triple-A Gwinnett this season.  The 25-year-old right-hander made his only three Major League appearances with the Braves earlier this year.  He allowed six earned runs and eight hits, including four homers, in the 6 2/3 innings that encompassed those three appearances.

Peavy, Santana among the starting pitchers drawing interest from the Braves

Since losing Tim Hudson to a season-ending ankle injury on Wednesday night, the Braves have widened their focus on the trade market.  While enhancing the bullpen’s depth, preferably with a left-handed reliever, still appears to be the priority, the club is now looking at the possibility of acquiring a front-line starting pitcher to fill Hudson’s void.

Braves general manager Frank Wren and his scouts will spend the next few days evaluating the small group of available starting pitchers who could legitimately upgrade the rotation.  Instead of pursuing a middle-of the-rotation piece like Bud Norris, the club’s interest in this department is focused on the likes of Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana.

The Braves had a scout present to watch Peavy throw 118 pitches and complete seven innings against the Tigers on Thursday.  This outing seemed to diminish any fears about the lingering effects of the fractured right rib that sidelined the White Sox right-hander from June 5-July 20.

Peavy is owed $4.8 million for the remainder of this year.  The 32-year-old Alabama native’s contract also includes a $14.5 million salary for 2014 and a $15 million vesting player option for 2015.  All indications are that the Braves are financially in position to make this deal.

While trading Santana would diminish the odds of the Royals achieving their goal of recording a winning season, the club understands the future benefits that could be realized by trading the 30-year-old right-hander, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

While the Braves do not seem to have any interest in Yovani Gallardo, they might ask the Brewers about Kyle Lohse, who has compiled a 2.49 ERA in the 11 starts he has made since the end of May.

Braves continue their search for relievers

Like many clubs, the Braves are still hoping to strengthen their bullpen before next week’s Trade Deadline.  But while they are evaluating a number of relievers, it does not appear they currently have a specific target.

The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers seems to believe the Braves are the favorites to land Jesse Crain from the White Sox if the All-Star reliever comes off the disabled list within the next week and provides indication that his right shoulder is healthy.  Rogers expressed this sentiment early Tuesday morning while on The Mully And Hanley Show on Chicago’s 670 The Score.

If he is healthy, Crain would arguably be the best reliever available and there is no doubt the Braves have definite interest in the 32-year-old reliever, who is in the final year of a three-year contract.  He has posted a 0.74 ERA and limited opponents to a .287 on-base percentage in 38 appearances.  But there is certainly reason to be cautious with any pitcher dealing with a shoulder ailment.

The Braves are still hoping left-hander Alex Wood proves effective enough to remain in the starting rotation throughout the remainder of this season.  Brandon Beachy is also expected to rejoin Atlanta’s rotation next week.  The expected additions of Wood and Beachy continue to fuel the belief that Kris Medlen could be moved to the bullpen within the next week.

With Medlen and Jordan Walden, the Braves would have two right-handed relievers who can neutralize left-handed hitters with their changeup.  But there still seems to be a desire to add a left-handed reliever.

The Angels’ Scott Downs, the Cubs’ James Russell and the Brewers’ Mike Gonzalez are among the left-handed relievers who have all drawn some form of interest from Atlanta’s brass.

But it appears Downs, who is in the final year of his three-year contract, and Russell, who is in the midst of his first arbitration-eligible season, rank above Gonzalez on the Braves’ wish list.

Maholm’s injury could affect Beachy, Wood and Medlen

Last week, there was some speculation that Alex Wood could move  into Kris Medlen’s rotation spot as early as Tuesday, when Medlen is scheduled to start against the Mets.  But that plan has seemingly been altered by the uncertainty surrounding Paul Maholm’s injured left pitching wrist.

Maholm visited Dr. Gary Lourie in Atlanta this morning and the specific details of his injury will be announced later this afternoon.  There is a chance he suffered a small fracture that was not visible on the initial X-ray performed once he left his start against the White Sox on Saturday.  Or there’s a chance the veteran left-hander could be dealing with some kind of strain.  We’ll find out soon enough.

Whatever the case, the current indications are that he is dealing with an ailment that should force him to miss at least one start  –  he is scheduled to oppose the Mets on Thursday.   Even if Maholm says he can pitch through the discomfort, the Braves will likely take the cautious route.

The two obvious candidates to pitch in Maholm’s place would be Wood or Brandon Beachy, who has made three starts since beginning a second Minor League rehab stint earlier this month.   While Wood would be pitching on two extra days of rest, Beachy would enter the start with just one extra day.

After throwing 70 pitches in five innings against Indianapolis on Friday, Beachy threw an additional 15 pitches in the bullpen.   While he is seemingly conditioned to attempt to pitch past the fifth, you have to wonder if it would be wise for the Braves to simply allow Beachy to make one more rehab start before making his return from Tommy John surgery.

This decision regarding Beachy could be influenced by the fact that right elbow inflammation prevented him from making his return after he made what was supposed to be the final start of his first Minor League rehab stint last month.  But the situation seems completely different this time.  Beachy has since admitted that he was feeling elbow discomfort during each of the three rehab starts he made in June.

Wood has made just one start since the Braves sent him down to Triple-A Gwinnnett last week to prepare to join Atlanta’s rotation within the next week or two.   The rookie southpaw threw 71 pitches in the five innings he completed on Thursday night against Indianapolis.   He also threw 57 pitches while completing 3 2/3 innings in relief of Medlen during a July 12 loss against Cincinnati.

After Medlen allowed four earned runs and nine hits in just four innings against the Reds that night, multiple sources indicated they would not be surprised if Wood assumed Medlen’s spot in the rotation as early as tomorrow.   While that could still happen, it would seem more sensible to rush just one of the two starters  –  Beachy or Wood  –  into the Atlanta rotation this week.

So if Wood is going to make a start this week for Atlanta, it seems more likely that he will get the call on Thursday.   This also would provide Medlen another chance to give the club a chance to prove he can still be just as valuable in the rotation as he would be in the bullpen.

 

 

Gonzalez, Russell among the relievers on Atlanta’s wish list

Over the past couple months, it has been apparent the Braves will attempt to gain bullpen depth before the July 31 Trade Deadline.  But with all indications that Alex Wood will join Atlanta’s starting rotation before the end of the month, it now appears the team’s specific priority is to add a left-handed reliever.

The Cubs’ James Russell, the Brewers’ Mike Gonzalez and the Astros’ Wesley Wright are among the left-handed relievers on general manager Frank Wren’s wish list.   While Wright is considered a candidate, it appears the Braves are more interested in the possibility of dealing for either Russell or Gonzalez.

With Wood currently preparing to make one or two Minor League starts before returning to the Majors, Luis Avilan stands as the only left-handed reliever in Atlanta’s bullpen.  Avilan has proven himself as a valuable setup man.  But the 24-year-old southpaw has already made a professional-high 43 appearances and his 3.38 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is not nearly as comforting as his 1.40 ERA.

There is reason to believe Wood could replace Kris Medlen in the rotation and if this proves to be true, Medlen would likely be moved back to a relief role.  Like Jordan Walden, Medlen would serve as a right-handed relief option, whose changeup has provided him success against left-handed hitters.

Still the Braves would like to add a left-handed presence to their bullpen.  Russell, who is currently in his first arbitration-eligible season,  has limited left-handed hitters to a .189 batting average and .218 on-base percentage.   Right-handed hitters have hit .316 and compiled a .400 on-base percentage against him.

Gonzalez, who served formerly served as a closer in Atlanta,  has proven to be more versatile.  Right-handed hitters have hit .233 with a .361 on-base percentage against him.  Left-handed hitters have batted .257 with a .325 on-base percentage against him. The 35-year-old veteran would be a free agent at the end of this season.

The Braves are also looking for a backup infielder to fill the void created when switch-hitter Ramiro Pena was forced to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery last month.  Paul Janish is more than capable of providing solid defense in this role.  But the club would like to find a better offensive option, preferably one that can hit from the left side of the plate.

McCann added to NL’s All-Star roster

Braves catcher Brian McCann received a nice surprise late Sunday afternoon when Major League Baseball announced he would replace his teammate Freddie Freeman on this year’s National League All-Star roster.

This is the seventh career All-Star selection for McCann, who entered Sunday hitting .291 with 12 home runs and a .910 OPS.  His addition to the NL roster came when Freeman was deemed unavailable because of a left thumb injury he suffered in the first inning of Saturday’s game against the Reds.

When given a chance to replace Freeman, NL manager Bruce Bochy chose McCann because he wanted to carry a third catcher on his roster.  Buster Posey will start the game and Yadier Molina were the only two catchers originally selected.  Molina has recently been bothered by inflammation in his right knee.

Life outside of Atlanta continues to be cruel for the Braves

After the Braves lost yet another road game to conclude this past weekend’s three-game series against the Phillies on Sunday, I asked Fredi Gonzalez and some of his players if they had a theory to explain why they have produced such contrasting results at home and on the road for most of this season.

“I’ve got my own ideas and theories,” Kris Medlen said.  “It’s just one of those things.  It’s baseball.”

Maybe Medlen will eventually elaborate on these “ideas” and “theories” he has developed.  But for now, it seems like most of us are baffled by this trend that has truly become one of those oddities often encountered during a long baseball season.

Since winning each of their first seven road games this year, the Braves have lost 25 of the 39 that have followed.  During this same stretch that dates back to an April 19 loss in Pittsburgh, they have won 23 of the 34 games played at Turner Field.

“I don’t have any theory on it other than you hit first on the road and wear a different color uniform,” Gonzalez said.  “Other than that, maybe it’s just one of those things.  When you look at the stats packs and sometimes on Wednesdays we don’t play well or on Wednesdays or that kind of stuff.  Maybe the second half of the season we’ll start playing better.  To win divisions and to win championships, championship teams have to play well both at home and on the road.”

Considering how bad they have been on the road for more than two months, the Braves are quite fortunate to still have a four-game lead over the second-place Nationals in the National League East race. Their first-place status has come as a result of the fact that they have won 21 of the 29 games played in Atlanta dating back to May 5.  During this same stretch, they have lost 18 of 30 on the road.

“I can’t put my finger on it,” Brian McCann said. “We’ve played really good baseball at home and obviously we need to start playing better on the road.  But I don’t think there is one thing I can point to.”

Fortunately the baseball world allows us a chance to attempt to explain the unexplainable through numbers. But as you will see, a look at the splits produced since the 13-2 start are as contrasting as the team’s record.

Since the road woes began on April 19, the Braves have produced a slash line of .240/.310/.392 (batting average/ on-base percentage/slugging percentage) and averaged 3.9 runs per game.   Their pitchers have compiled a 4.46 ERA during this 39-game stretch.

During the home games played in this same span, the Braves have produced a slash line of .262/.342/.413 and averaged 4.6 runs per game.  Their pitchers have compiled a 2.26 ERA during this 34-game stretch.

It is interesting to look at the difference in the home/road OPS numbers produced by Braves players over the course of the past 73 games (dating back to April 19):

HOME

Freddie Freeman  .974

Brian McCann .930

Chris Johnson  .821

Jason Heyward .727

B.J. Upton .700

Andrelton Simmons .669

Dan Uggla .630

Justin Upton  .523

ROAD

McCann .921

Uggla  .871

Justin Upton .816

Chris Johnson .782

Heyward  .774

Freeman  .691

Simmons .659

B.J. Upton  .450

So Uggla and Justin Upton rank as the least productive offensive contributors at home and the two most productive contributors on the road during this span. McCann is has been consistently great both at home and on the road. The splits produced by Heyward, Johnson and Simmons are also pretty consistent.

These split contrasts are not restricted to the offensive end.   Here is a look at the home/road ERAs produced by the starting pitchers during this same span.

HOME

Julio Teheran  1.79

Paul Maholm 2.20

Tim Hudson 2.52

Medlen 3.00

Mike Minor 4.30

ROAD

Minor 2.96

Teheran 3.23

Medlen 4.62

Hudson 5.71

Maholm  6.70

Minor will look to extend his road success when the Braves open a three-game series tonight at Marlins Park, which is where the Braves claimed the first of those seven straight road wins to open the season.

If this week’s return to Miami allows the Braves to end their frustrating road woes, maybe Medlen will be willing to expound on his theories.  But for now, we’re all left to attempt to explain the unexplainable.

 

 

 

 

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