He’s been a big part of the run that’s gotten the Braves back into the thick of the playoff race, and Peter Moylan insists there’s no reason to be concerned about him possibly being too big a part.
That is, don’t worry about him pitching too frequently, even though the bloke leads the majors in relief appearances just 14-1/2 months after having ligament-transplant (”Tommy John”) elbow surgery.
The amiable Aussie sidearmer has pitched in an eyebrow-raising 24 of the Braves’ 39 games since July 2, pushing his season total to 65 appearances entering tonight’s big series finale with the Phillies on ESPN.
Mets lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano (64 before today) was the only other pitcher with as many as 60 appearances, and he had three fewer than Moylan since July 2.
”I feel like I’m at my best when I am throwing all the time,” the heavily — and we do mean heavily – tattoed righty said. “It allows you to hone your craft, so to speak, to get in a rhythm.”
Yeah, but the elbow. Dude, aren’t you at all concerned about being on pace for a whopping 91 appearances? (That would shatter Chris Reitsma’s 2004 franchise record by six).
”Since the All-Star break I’ve felt good,” Moylan said. “And for me and most relievers, pitching with confidence is the biggest thing. Once you get on a roll, your confidence level is way high, and you feel like you know you’re going get guys out. You just want to get out there.”
Yeah, but the elbow….
”If at any point I felt like it was too much, Skip [manager Bobby Cox] would be the first to know. I’d tell him, for sure.”
Well, alright then. We’ll shut up about it. For now.
Maybe all that ink on his arms has fortified them, sped the healing process, strengthened the ligament. Or maybe Moylan is just blessed with a rubber arm that’s healthier than most after having all those years away from pitching (while he was out of professional baseball and selling pharmaceutical supplies Down Under).
They say some pitchers are stronger than ever after having T.J. surgery. Perhaps he’s just gotten to that point sooner than some in his recovery.
Whatever. One thing that can’t be disputed is that he’s pitching as well as ever right now, and playing a huge role for the Braves.
Moylan had a rough patch in early July, when he gave up 10 hits and five runs in 5-1/3 innings over a stretch of seven appearances – he pitched in seven of the Braves’ games in that July 3-12 period.
But since then, he’s not allowed an earned run in 16 appearances, holding opponents to 10 hits (a .185 opponents’ average) with four walks and 16 strikeouts in that run. The Braves won 11 of those 16 games.
Moylan said if anyone knows his arm it’s him. And if anyone knows the effort he put into getting back, the pain he endured and the surgery he wants to avoid repeating, it’s him.
”Absolutely,” he said, smiling. “It’s not a two-year program. I don’t want to pitch for a year and have to take a year off.”
♣ In a post-Frenchy Braves world: Don’t know if you all saw Carroll Rogers’ interview with Jeff Francoeur in the Sunday AJC (and online), but it’s really good. Some candid quotes from him about why it didn’t work out with the Braves, how it had nothing to do with coaching, etc. I’d recommend you check it out, even if you’ve grown a bit tired of Francoeur discussions and such.
We all know that Francoeur has done well since the July 10 trade to the Mets, particularly in the first couple of weeks after the deal. So I was curious about how his production compared to that the of player he was traded for, Ryan Church.
You might be surprised, especially given that initial Francoeur power resurgence and Church’s nagging elbow injury that slowed him early on after the deal and eventually kept him out of the lineup and required a series of cortisone shots. He’s also shared time with Matt Diaz in RF, though Church has gotten more time.
Anyway, since the trade Francoeur has played 31 games and hit .288 (34-for-118) with 10 extra-base hits (five homers), 21 RBI, 12 runs, and a .326 OBP and .466 slugging percentage for a .792 OPS.
Meanwhile, Church has played 23 games since the trade and hit .265 (18-for-68) with seven extra-base hits (two homers), 11 RBI, 14 runs, and a .383 OBP and .426 slugging percentage for an .809 OPS.
♣ Did went mention it’s a big game? Well, it is. Tonight’s series finale between the Braves and Phillies will leave the Braves either four games out of first place in the NL East if they win, or six out of first if they lose.
As I file this blog, the Marlins are beating wild-card leader Colorado 7-1 in the sixth inning of th first game of their doubleheader. If the Rockies were to lose both, the Braves would be just 1-1/2 games off the wild-card lead if they beat Philly tonight.
It’s Braves ace Javier Vazquez vs. Phillies Rookie of the Year candidate J.A. Happ. It’s the national game on ESPN. It’s big. Or did we already say that? It’s also threatened by rain. Ugh.
It’s the two NL teams with the best records since June 28, each of them 27-15 in that period. No other NL team had more than 25 wins in that span, entering today’s games. Did we mention, rain appears headed this way?
The Braves since Jun 28 have hit .279 with a 3.22 ERA, 211 runs and 49 homers. Phillies in that stretch have hit .257 with a 3.40 ERA, 215 runs and 56 homers.
In their past 10 games, the Braves are 8-2 with a .284 average, 2.42 ERA and 100 hits, including 13 homers. They’ve averaged nearly six runs per game in that 10-game surge.
They are 8-3 against the Phillies this season, after going 4-14 against them in 2008. The Braves have won six of the past seven games between the teams.
One more stat: The Phillies are 1-6 against the Braves going back to May 9. In that same stretch, the Phillies are 49-31 against everyone else.
♦ OK, gotta get to the ballpark. We’ll take it out with one of the all-time great songs from Elvis, one that Mike Geier and his Kingsized Orchestra and Dames A’Flame dancers performed with panache last night at Variety Playhouse in their terrific tribute show for The King. And here’s a clip of the incomparable Elvis doing the song.
“SUSPICIOUS MINDS” by Mark James
We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby
Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?
We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds
So, if an old friend I know
Drops by to say hello
Would I still see suspicion in your eyes?
Here we go again
Asking where I’ve been
You can’t see these tears are real
We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And be can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds
Oh let our love survive
Or dry the tears from your eyes
Let’s don’t let a good thing die
When honey, you know
I’ve never lied to you
Ooo-ooo … yeah, yeah