(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
Well, well, well. We have baseball again today! What a weird stretch, three days away for the Braves because of Hurricane Irene – their own little All-Star break take two, to break up the dog days. So looking back, now, can it be a good thing? (For the players, I mean. I know you natives are restless!)
Extra rest for the Braves rotation over a four-day (and real) All-Star break seemed to mess the Braves rotation up
for a few weeks afterward, with the exception of Tim Hudson. But now it’s only an extra day or two of rest for Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe and Hudson. Brandon Beachy (seven days rest) and Mike Minor (10 days rest) will have some challenges with rust this weekend vs. the Dodgers, but the Braves are going to try to get them some work in, maybe a simulated game.
This was also a chance to recharge and rest up for guys who’ve been battling some injuries of late like Chipper Jones (knee, quad), Brian McCann (oblique), and Jose Constanza (ankle).
On the other hand, now, the Braves begin a stretch of playing 17 games in the next 16 days including the makeup doubleheader against the Mets in New York on Sept. 8. Starting Thursday, though, the Braves can add reinforcements from the minors, and what a perfect time to have a bonus starter to go in one of those games of the doubleheader.
My guess is Julio Teheran would go against the Mets – just a guess. Fredi Gonzalez has already said both Teheran and Randall Delgado will be among the September call-ups, but he’ll have to decide when he brings them up. With Gwinnett making a playoff run, he might decide to leave one down there until the season plays out.
Delgado made the last spot start on Aug. 16 vs. the Giants, and he goes a day before Teheran in the rotation in Gwinnett, which would puts Teheran’s spot one day closer to Sept. 8 (he’d normally fall on Sept. 6). And I’m thinking it’s Teheran’s turn. (Hey, I can have my one-of-five-kids logic, if I want to!)
Teheran is completing quite the minor league season. This morning he was announced as the International League rookie of the year, as well as International League most valuable pitcher of the year. Not too shabby. Teheran is leading the International League in wins (15), ERA (2.22) and opponents’ batting average (.227). He’s the second consecutive Gwinnett Brave to win IL rookie of the year after Freddie Freeman did it last year. You couldn’t ask much more from him this season.
Also, right fielder Stefan Gartrell was also named to the IL postseason All-Star team. He’s hitting .265 with 26 homers and 91 RBIs in 116 games on the season and won the Triple-A home run derby.
Eye on Sept. Schedule
The Braves have 29 games left. Only nine of them are against teams with winning records – six games against the Phillies (three at home, three on the road) and three games in St. Louis. Even with next week’s doubleheader in New York, the Braves have two more off days to work with on Sept. 15 and Sept. 22.
The Phillies have 32 games left, and 17 of them are against teams with records of .500 or better. (They’re at Cincinnati right now, which is 67-67.) They are playing four games at red-hot Milwaukee Sept. 8-11 and play the Cardinals for a four-game set at home on Sept. 16-19.
On top of that, the Phillies have no more scheduled off days before the end of the season. They have to make up two games against the Marlins they missed over the weekend because of Hurricane Irene in a doubleheader on Sept. 15. Then they have a doubleheader on Sept. 20 against the Nationals, including a make-up game for a rain-out on Aug. 14.
Not that the Phillies have flinched at much of anything this season, but if you’re looking at their schedule compared to the Braves’, theirs in tougher. And who knows, the Braves are down 6 ½ games in the NL East with six games left against the Phillies. Maybe it gets interesting.
Nats or gnats?
Oh, the pesky Nationals are here, and just when you mention teams with sub .500 records in the Braves schedule, that doesn’t really seems to matter when it comes to this team does it? The Braves are 6-6 against the Nationals this season, after going 8-10 against them a year ago, 10-8 in 2009 and 6-12 in 2008.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve written….”The Braves face Livan Hernandez tonight” ….but this will be the fourth time he’s faced the Braves this season. He’s 1-2 in those four starts despite a 3.31 ERA. The only time the Braves really rocked him was in an 11-1 win on July 15 at Turner Field, the first game out of the All-Star break. He gave up six runs (three earned) in four innings.
Jurrjens is pitching tonight on seven days’ rest. He was scheduled to go Saturday in New York and got pushed back. The last time he pitched with such a long lay-off – 10 days between starts, with 1 2/3 innings in the All-Star game mixed in – he had a miserable night against the Nationals. He gave up six runs in five innings that night, July 17, and has given up 11 runs in 10 innings total in his two starts against the Nats since the break. But after the second of those, he conceded his surgically-repaired knee was bothering him and he went on the disabled list.
Jurrjens pitched well in his last outing vs. the Cubs, working around eight hits for 6 1/3 shutout innings and would love to build on that in his third start since coming off the DL.
In the process of working on the minor league story I wrote yesterday, I had a chance to ask farm director Kurt Kemp about the progress of two young shortstop prospects Edward Salcedo and Matt Lipka down in Rome. The numbers aren’t super friendly for either one, but he gave me some insights.
At first they rotated Lipka, Salcedo and Elmer Reyes at shortstop, second and third base, but they ended up settling in with Lipka at shortstop and Salcedo at third. Kemp said the Braves aren’t locked into leaving Salcedo at third, but that this is just how it played out this season.
First the numbers:
Salcedo is hitting .253 with 27 doubles, six triples, 12 homers, and 66 RBIs, a significant improvement over last year in Rome, when he hit .197 (38 for 193) with five doubles, four triples, two homers and 16 RBIs in 54 games in his first action in the U.S. since coming over from the Dominican. But in making the transition to third base this year, he has committed an eye-popping 46 errors in 127 games.
Kemp on Salcedo: “He’s had good production for his first full season. We’ve asked him to change positions. He has the skills (to play third); it’s learning how to do it. He’s a very talented offensive player; he has a lot of physical talent as a hitter. It’s our job to harness that, to command a better strike zone, get consistency.”
Lipka is hitting .238 with 17 doubles, three triples, one homer and 35 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases in 39 attempts. He has committed only 13 errors in 121 games, predominantly at short.
Kemp on Lipka: “He’s learned what he needs to do; it’s transferring what he knows he needs to do to games. When he takes bp and stays where he needs to be, he lines that ball. I’ve told him ‘You have to be patient, things don’t just overnight just happen.’ …I know it’s not the offensive year he had hoped for, but it’s been a valuable year for him.”
Hanson update to come
We’ll find out more today about Tommy Hanson following his visit with Dr. James Andrews yesterday. Indications I’ve gotten are that the news is good with his shoulder, so maybe the Braves really don’t have to rule him out going forward and he can indeed return from a small “undersurface” tear in his rotator cuff in a few weeks, like the Braves have hoped. But I will have more information on that and update you from the park.
1. Bourn CF
2. Prado LF
3. McCann C
4. Uggla 2B
5. Jones 3B
6. Freeman 1B
7. Gonzalez SS
8. Heyward RF
9. Jurrjens P