Improved rotation, deeper lineup = 7-game Braves win streak

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but soon after the Braves signed Ben Sheets and after it became known they were scouting several starting pitchers who could be available on the trade market, the starting rotation finally stepped it up a bit. The Braves starters got more consistent, a big factor in the current seven-game winning streak along with improved offensive production.

Sheets could end up being a huge no-risk pickup for the Braves. He pitched six scoreless innings Sunday against the Mets after being out of baseball for two years following major elbow surgery and making just two minor-league rehab starts.

Sheets could end up being a huge no-risk pickup for the Braves. He pitched six scoreless innings Sunday against the Mets after being out of baseball for two years following major elbow surgery and making just two minor-league rehab starts.

The Braves have just 37 quality starts (six innings or more, three earned runs or fewer) this season, second-fewest in a league where nine teams have more than 50. Only the Rockies have fewer quality starts, and they have a pretty legit excuse – Coors Field.

But the Braves have six quality starts in their past eight games, including five during the seven-game winning streak, the longest for the Bravos since they won nine in a row two summers ago. The most recent of those quality starts, and the most significant for the Braves at least since Jair Jurrjens returned from Triple-A, if not the entire season, came in Sheets’ debut Sunday against the Mets.

I don’t know of anyone, and I mean anyone, who thought Sheets could do what he did Sunday after being out of baseball for two years and making only two Double-A starts prior to facing the Mets. Two hits, one walk and five strikeouts in six scoreless innings.

It was stunning, and if he stays healthy and pitches with the stuff he had Sunday, the four-time former Milwaukee All-Star is going to win plenty more games for the Braves and make himself a strong, late entry for NL Comeback Player of the Year.

Whatever Braves GM Frank Wren and his top assistants saw a few weeks ago when Sheets threw for officials from the Braves, Yankees and a few other teams in 100-plus-degree temperatures at Georgia Tech, you’ve got to hand it to them for making Sheets a minor-league offer and impressing him enough to get him (the Yankees also made a minor-league offer).

And credit them for not making Sheets spend any more time in the minors, because I also didn’t hear anyone say they believed two starts in Double-A — not particularly impressive starts at that – seemed sufficient before bringing Sheets to the majors. Personally, I thought they were rushing things a bit.

Braves officials pulled the trigger, and Sheets showed Sunday they were right to do so.

So anyway, here we are, in the third week of July with a Braves team that has taken everyone on a rollercoaster ride through the first 88 games of the season, and now sits in a far better position than many of us anticipated a few weeks ago. It was that recent when things didn’t look at all promising for their inconsistent team and its shaky rotation and too-often-punchless lineup.

The Braves (49-39) have the third-best record in the NL and fifth-best record in the majors, better than two division leaders — the AL Central’s White Sox (49-40) of the NL West’s Giants (49-40, who are in town for a three-game series beginning tonight at Turner Field.

Atlanta is a half-game ahead of Pittsburgh (49-40) atop the NL Wild Card race, and remember there’s an additional wild card added to each league’s postseason format this season. That means if the playoffs started today, the Braves would face the Pirates in a one-game playoff, with the winner advancing to a best-of-five division series and the loser going home.

That means the Braves can’t afford to be content with winning a wild-card playoff berth, and they know it. Because unlike in the past, it doesn’t guarantee a first-round best-of-five series against a division winner. It only makes for a do-or-die game against the other wild card, which makes it something of a crap shoot. For instance, if one team has to use its best starting pitchers in those last days of the regular season and the other is able to hold back its ace for the one-game playoff.

No, you’re obviously much better off winning a division now under the new format than going in as a wild card where everything is riding on that one game.

And the thing is, the NL East is very winnable.

The Braves are only 2-1/2 games behind Washington, which has definitely had an upper hand against Atlanta in recent years, but which might be without ace Stephen Strasburg in the final weeks of the season if the Nationals stick to their plan of shutting down the phenom after he pitches about 160 innings in his first full season since Tommy John elbow surgery.

It’s going to be unprecedented if they do that, if a team that’s waited so long to get to the postseason in effect tells its excited fan base that it’s taking the staff’s healthy, most overpowering starter and putting him on the shelf until next year when there is no evidence that says he’s more likely to get hurt by pitching 185 innings than by pitching 165 innings.

Privately, the Braves and the rest of the NL have to be hoping the Nationals follow through with that plan. Well, the Braves maybe a little less than other playoff contenders, since they’ve fared better against Strasburg than any other team has. But even Atlanta would benefit from him being shut down, because Strasburg gives the Nationals a very good chance to win every time he pitches, and his replacement surely will not give them as good a chance to do that and to keep adding wins in the last month of the division race that could well be close to the wire.

Meanwhile, the Braves don’t seem content to rest on their improved rotation. They continue to scout top available or potentially available starters, either just in case they have an injury or a current starter falters, or because they want to make the rotation deeper still than it is with an improved Jurrjens – who faces Giants lefty Barry Zito tonight — and the addition of Sheets.

But with Sheets on board, if he stays healthy these next couple of weeks, I think it decreases the likelihood of the Braves mortgaging part of the future by trading away multiple prospects in any deal to acquire a starter before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

By the way, in case you missed it, Carroll Rogers did a story on Jurrjens in today’s paper, in which he discussed his improvement since his stint in Triple-A, and how he overcame his admitted frustrations after being sent down in April.

• Deeper lineup: Another key part of the Braves’ midseason resurgence, probably the biggest part, has been the renewed punch they’ve gotten from a lineup that suddenly seems a lot deeper and more balanced with Freddie Freeman’s return to good health and Brian McCann’s return to being himself after a long slump that began when he came back too quickly from an oblique strain last season.

Freeman has been on a hitting tear since returning from a finger injury.

Freeman has had a resurgence since returning from finger injury.

The Braves are getting contributions from so many spots in their batting order lately that they’ve been able to offset the loss of Andrelton Simmons and the continued struggles of Dan Uggla.

Some of the recent highlights:

– Chipper Jones has hit .400 (24-for-60) in his past 16 games with 10 extra-base hits, 10 RBIs, nine walks, six K, .478 OBP and .633 slugging

– Freeman, in 21 games since returning from a finger injury, has hit .342 (26-for-76) with 10 extra-base hits (four homers), 17 RBIs, a .420 OBP and .579 slugging percentage (.999 OPS). The team is 14-7 in those games. During his current seven-game hitting streak, Freeman’s hit .462 (12-for-26) with three doubles, two homers, seven RBIs, three walks and only two strikeouts.

Jason Heyward has hit .333 in his past 33 games (oh, the symmetry) with 18 extra-base hits (eight homers), 19 RBIs, a .380 OBP and .611 slugging percentage (.991 OPS).

– McCann also has a seven-game hitting streak going, during which he’s 10-for-26 (.385) with four homers and 11 RBIs.

– Martin Prado, who didn’t make the All-Star team but might be the Braves’ MVP so far, in his past 20 games has hit .351 (27-for-77) with seven doubles, one homer, 13 RBIs, eight walks, a .393 OBP and .481 slugging percentage. Prado’s .341 home average is seventh-best in the NL, and his .362 average vs. lefties is eighth-best in the league.

Michael Bourn, another obvious candidate for team MVP so far, in his past 10 games has hit .385 (15-for-39) with 11 runs, six RBIs, eight walks and a .489 OBP. The team is 8-2 in that stretch. Bourn’s .328 average vs. right-handers ranks seventh in the NL (Uggla’s .214 is fifth-worst).

Among NL leadoff men, Bourn ranks sixth with a .367 OBP, while ex-Brave Gregor Blanco is 10th in the league with a .339 leadoff OBP for San Francisco. Another ex-Braves outfielder, Melky Cabrera, is having a career-best season for the Giants and ranks third in the majors with a .366 road average.

The Braves have hit .283 during the seven-game winning streak, with 11 homers and 43 runs, including six or more runs in five of seven games. They’ve allowed three or fewer runs in five of seven games.

Also, the Braves are 4-0 with .305 average and 28 runs in their past four home games, after going 5-11 with .257 average and 57 runs in previous 16 home games.

As long as a bunch of Braves are swinging the bats more consistently, the team can afford to have an all-glove, no-stick guy at shortstop until Simmons returns from a broken hand. That’s what they have with the recently acquired Paul Janish.

• Big K in Kimbrel: He finished ninth in the Cy Young Award balloting last season as a rookie closer, and Craig Kimbrel could be headed toward a top-five or maybe even top-three Cy finish this season. He’s been that dominant. Utterly dominant.

As in, league-leading 27 saves with a 1.29 ERA and 0.686 WHIP. But lately, he’s taken it to another level.

Kimbrel has allowed one hit, no walks with 14 strikeouts in six scoreless innings over his past six appearances, and allowed five hits (.064 opponents’ average) and one run with two walks and 43 strikeouts in 24 innings over his past 24 appearances while converting 18 consecutive save opportunities. Yes, two walks and 43 strikeouts in 24 innings.

• This series vs. San Francisco: The Braves are 8-1 with a 2.36 ERA in their past nine regular-season games against Giants, going back to Aug. 7, 2010, including 6-1 in seven games last season. But the Giants, of course, can hold up their win in by far the most important series during that time period – the 3-1 division series win against the Braves in 2010, when every game was decided by one run.

Jurrjens is 3-0 in four starts since returning from Triple-A. He'll face the Giants' Barry Zito in tonight's series opener.

Jurrjens is 3-0 in four starts since returning from Triple-A. He'll face the Giants' Barry Zito in tonight's series opener.

The teams haven’t faced each other this season, and the Giants have had an unusual season much like the Braves, getting huge contributions from Cabrera and inexplicably bad work from former two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Linceum, who at age 28 is 3-10 with a 5.93 ERA and 1.519 WHIP. No one in the league has more losses or has allowed as many earned runs (69 in 104-2/3 innings).

The Braves won’t face Lincecum in the series, and who’d have ever thought that’d be seen as an unfortunate development?

The Giants returned from the All-Star break to post a 0.90 ERA while sweeping a three-game series from lowly Houston. This after San Francisco had a 7.43 ERA while losing five of its last six games before the break.

Los Gigantes allowed one earned run in each game vs. the Astros, after giving up 41 earned runs in their last six games before the break.

BRAVES LINEUP

  1. Bourn cf
  2. Prado lf
  3. Heyward rf
  4. Chipper 3b
  5. Freeman 1b
  6. McCann c
  7. Uggla 2b
  8. Janish ss
  9. Jurrjens p

• Tonight’s matchup: It’s Jurrjens against Zito, who has faltered lately. The veteran lefty is 2-4 with a 6.12 ERA in his past six starts after 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA in his first 11. There’s also this: Zito has a 5.19 ERA in eight road starts, compared to 3.09 in nine starts at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park in San Francisco.

And this: He has 4.80 ERA in 10 night games, compared to 3.05 in seven day games.

However, Zito is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts vs. Braves, including 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .178 opponents’ average in four at Turner Field. Much of that success came against previous incarnations of the Braves, not the current lineup. But he had 10 strikeouts in seven innings of his last start against the Braves in August 2010 in Atlanta.

Right-handers are hitting .268 with an .812 OPS and 10 homers in 284 at-bats against Zito, while lefties have a .193 average and meager .552 OPS and two homers in 88 at-bats against him.

As for the aforementioned Jurrjens, he is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts since returning from Triple-A, despite just 10 strikeouts (with five walks) in 25-1/3 innings. He’s allowed one homer since he returned to the majors, that in his last start vs. Philadelphia when he gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings for the win.

Against Zito,  Uggla is 6-for-20 with a homer and Chipper is 2-for-9 with a homer. They are the only Braves with more than one hit or eight at-bats against him.

Against Jurrjens, Freddy Sanchez is 6-for-13 and Pablo Sandoval is 4-for-9, while Angel Pagan is just 3-for-29.

• Let’s close with a tune from Dave Alvin, who has made so much great music since his days with the mighty X. This song appeared on the  TV show Justified, which we love. It’s from his most recent album, Eleven Eleven, which is strong from start to finish. You can hear the song by clicking here.

51rM1X7XZbL

“HARLAN COUNTY LINE” by Dave Alvin

Another morning, another motel bed,
another city waitin’ up ahead…
Light another menthol, to clear my mind…

Of those memories I pretend to forget,
cause I always want to live with out regrets
but… yeah…
I still think of her from time to time
Only she’s still livin’ across the Harlan County Line

Now when we met we were both livin’ far from home
tryin’ to get by and tired of being alone,
for a moment I thought she was mine…
Cause she had a voice I just wanted to believe…
She said her mother was full blood Cherokee and her
Daddy was a union man down in the mines…
Fighting the good fight across the Harlan County Line…

People can be Noble, and People can be Cruel
they’ll make you President or they’ll make you a Fool but,
she always treated me nice and kind…
Until that day she left me on my own said there
was trouble she had to handle back home…
Then she gave me a number and said call any time
if I ever made it across the Harlan County Line…

Now the years disappear out on the highway
And I lost her number somewhere along the way
So I’ll say a little prayer that she’s doing fine…

Another morning, another motel bed,
another city waitin’ up ahead…
And another small memory to leave behind
somewhere across the Harlan County Line…

across the Harlan County Line….

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

1,929 comments Add your comment

TennesseePaul

July 17th, 2012
2:31 pm

Thanks for the work DOB.

GO BRAVES!!

Arkansas Transplant

July 17th, 2012
2:31 pm

nolie

July 17th, 2012
2:36 pm

I wasn’t saying that phil actually is all that negative, I realize that a lot of his comments are facetious. however he doesn’t make enough positive comments to let others know that IMO, and I often see his name brought up as an example of the prevailing negativism and i’m not sure he realizes that. wasn’t a cut at him

Woody Woodward

July 17th, 2012
2:38 pm

Is ESPN carrying the game tonight? Frustrating that the SFO games are blacked out here in Hawaii. We’re part of their “market.”

Runner-

July 17th, 2012
2:40 pm

Very surprised there has been no talk of the Braves going after a RP at the break when I feel that is probably the only thing standing in our way. We don’t need another SP, we just meed either our current SP to go deeper into games or for Wren to add another solid arm in the pen. Simmons will get back soon and will revamp this offense as soon as it starts to struggle again

unbelievable

July 17th, 2012
2:40 pm

Breaking down Hanson’s new mechanics and delivery.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/tommy-hansons-new-delivery-wheres-the-velocity/

I just wish he’d start using his change up more frequently.

Braves Fan in Maine

July 17th, 2012
2:41 pm

Good work DOB….. hope the braves can get another sweep…. but as long as we win the series that would be good!!! Lets make a deal

unbelievable

July 17th, 2012
2:41 pm

Very surprised there has been no talk of the Braves going after a RP at the break when I feel that is probably the only thing standing in our way.-Runner

MLBTR two hours ago – The Braves are looking at possible bullpen upgrades in addition to starting pitching options, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).

nolie

July 17th, 2012
2:41 pm

on MLB TV here Woody

unbelievable

July 17th, 2012
2:42 pm

But yes, the rotation still needs to be upgraded.

Kyle

July 17th, 2012
2:43 pm

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
2:43 pm

But with Sheets on board, if he stays healthy these next couple of weeks, I think it decreases the likelihood of the Braves mortgaging part of the future by trading away multiple prospects in any deal to acquire a starter before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Even if he does stay healthy, he got hurt often two years ago and you’d hate to be left with that after 8/1. Makes so much sense to add a starter not only for the stretch run, but for 2013 as well.

Woody Woodward

July 17th, 2012
2:43 pm

Thanks, nolie. Looks like the old time radio hour for me.

ChattTownBrian

July 17th, 2012
2:44 pm

nolie, gotcha.

Kyle

July 17th, 2012
2:44 pm

@Woody I think the game is on MLB Network, if you get that.

nolie

July 17th, 2012
2:46 pm

the dart throwing is always a potential negative as it can cause timing issues. if it does not, it in and of itself adds little stress

Woody Woodward

July 17th, 2012
2:47 pm

Thanks, kyle, but we’re blacked out on SF games on MLB–tv and on-line

Arkansas Transplant

July 17th, 2012
2:47 pm

I think if we don’t get a starter by the trade deadline, that would have to be seen as a failure.

Frankie

July 17th, 2012
2:48 pm

Sheets question mark, JJ question mark, Minor question mark, Huddy health question mark, Hanson???????

Yeah we cannot go remainder of season with a solid pickup. It will happen.

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
2:48 pm

Awesome post, unbelievable. Especially thought his conclusion was a good take on it:

Mechanical conclusion

I think it’s pretty clear that Hanson has cut down on some of the things that will stress his posterior shoulder: The recoil has been significantly diminished. However, so is his fastball velocity, and I highly doubt that will return. A better solution to cutting down on unnecessary posterior shoulder stress and retaining the fastball velocity may be learning to use the shoulders in a more complete manner to provide a longer, more efficient deceleration path. The “dart-throwing” aspect of his arm action is far down the list of things to worry about, if it’s even something to focus on at all.

However, this is a perfect example that shows that rotation = velocity. Cutting down on rotation in hopes of solving another problem will come at a price. Can Hanson use these mechanics and diminished fastball velocity to return to form as a 3.20 – 3.80 xFIP kind of pitcher, a clear No. 2 in the rotation? Only time will tell. But while going from 93 to 90 might not be too bad, going from 90 to 88 could be a drastic difference to hitters, as fastball effectiveness does not diminish in a 1:1 ratio with lost velocity.

nolie

July 17th, 2012
2:49 pm

I have said b4 what DOB just did, another great start by Sheets especially, and i can see them possibly passing on a starter.

southern hope

July 17th, 2012
2:50 pm

there’s nothing better than coming off vacation to find a DOB column awaiting.

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
2:51 pm

He definitely is in the 88-90 with about 3-5 fastbals that touch 91 or maybe 1 that gets to 92.

Ward

July 17th, 2012
2:51 pm

So Boston cools on Dempster, and now that Nats. Don’t think they have the cash.

nolie

July 17th, 2012
2:52 pm

the best solution might be to develop more leg drive and thus not have to change his current arm approach. prolly not gonna happen.
however anybody who says that they always loved hanson’s mechanics is IMO a questionable source about pitching

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
2:53 pm

I have said b4 what DOB just did, another great start by Sheets especially, and i can see them possibly passing on a starter.

And that’s a terrible thing and may bite them in the arse come the last three weeks in the season when another win or two from a Dempster or Garza might of meant the division or wild card. Tired of this hokie pokie one foot in one foot out stuff. It’s never been such a poor National League talent wise – time to go for it is now.

brian

July 17th, 2012
2:54 pm

another great start by Sheets and I think we will see the Braves move from wanting a top of the rotation starter to adding a #3 starter.

I wonder how many good starts by Sheets it will take to get the Braves to talk extension with Sheets

TennesseePaul

July 17th, 2012
2:54 pm

Even if he does stay healthy, he got hurt often two years ago and you’d hate to be left with that after 8/1. Makes so much sense to add a starter not only for the stretch run, but for 2013 as well.

I think more than potential injury is his innings pitched. The guy hasn’t done it a while (119 innings pitched two years ago) so while he could dominate for a bit, I’d imagine fatigue will come into play which makes getting another top shelf ace important.

Add to all of that, if the Braves are a wild-card team, they’ll need to have another top line starter for that “wild card day” Bud is drooling over.

Heisenberg

July 17th, 2012
2:54 pm

I recall the back end of the rotation also picked it up a bit when Medlen was sent down to get stretched out. Then when it was apparent he would not take a starter spot they had a relapse. So here we are again with a gun being held to Minor’s head until at least the rest of July so expect him to notch it up. But what will he become in Aug/Sep when he is once again comfortable? I suppose/hope he can be motivated with the thought of Delgado lurking.

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
2:55 pm

however anybody who says that they always loved hanson’s mechanics is IMO a questionable source about pitching

He did do an article way back when Tommy was coming up and said he wasn’t worried at all about his mechanics. Comes to be that they did indeed need to change, and therefore, the pitcher coming up has vanished and now we have more of a #3 instead of a #1/2.

TennesseePaul

July 17th, 2012
2:55 pm

Tired of this hokie pokie one foot in one foot out stuff.

Agreed. Very tired of this “but he costs too much/he isn’t worth the money or prospects” tag line. This team will never win with that mindset.

Frankie

July 17th, 2012
2:56 pm

If Sheets has a decent start and they stay pat and make wildcard and not advance, I call that a extremely disappointing season. Lost one guy so far(Beachy), have had guys out but they are back. This current staff doesn’t have enough firepower to advance deep.

If FW stays pat and the team gets past the wildcard game and eventually into the NLCS, well he’s GM of the century not year.

You got Bourn last season to make a run. Chipper’s last year, he makes a move IMO.

Memphis

July 17th, 2012
2:56 pm

The thing with Sheets is this. I believe he can be a solid #4 or #5 at this point in his career. Expecting him to go toe to toe with a Matt Cain, Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, or anyone of that nature would be foolish.

nolie

July 17th, 2012
2:57 pm

prolly right Efrim, I am just kinda skeptical that they will spend what it takes, plus of course its the old reverse psychology thingy too ;)

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
2:58 pm

I’d imagine fatigue will come into play which makes getting another top shelf ace important.

Add to all of that, if the Braves are a wild-card team, they’ll need to have another top line starter for that “wild card day” Bud is drooling over.

Agreed. I’d actually not mind Hudson starting that game – but wouldn’t really be comfortable with anyone else and that’s the issue. Just get me “Big Game” James and call it a day. ;)

DS1

July 17th, 2012
2:58 pm

With all the question marks in our rotation, I think we need 2-3 more top of the rotation starters.

Then we can take the others out back and put them out of their misery.

:twisted:

nolie

July 17th, 2012
2:58 pm

many folks in pitching thought Tommy was a walking time bomb, and most all were worried about too much arm stress

TennesseePaul

July 17th, 2012
3:00 pm

The recoil has been significantly diminished. However, so is his fastball velocity, and I highly doubt that will return

Pitch FX lumps all fastballs as one, so a 2-seamer is lumped in with a 4-seamer and then averaged. I’d be very interested to see those two pitches extracted and averaged for Hanson this year.

Frankie

July 17th, 2012
3:00 pm

Huddy’s a competitor man, I will take him to win one game. Don’t think he is Carpenter like though and will win you 2 or 3 in a series though(few are) That’s where Dempster would be big. Game 2 starter.

Ward

July 17th, 2012
3:00 pm

Efrim – I sure hope Wren doesn’t wait too long, and let the Nats grab Dempster? Seems like every time Braves are looking ast a major pitcher. Some one grabs him, and it hurts the Braves down the stretch. Wren, just don’t hold out too long on any of the pitchers on the list. My advice to you……

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
3:01 pm

Agreed. Very tired of this “but he costs too much/he isn’t worth the money or prospects” tag line. This team will never win with that mindset.

So help me, if I see that sort of talk – “he isn’t worth it” or “he’s not much better than what we have”…

Ummmm. Does everyone realize that Polished is our #5 right now? Zack Greinke or Matt Garza ain’t better than Mike Minor? Please. That could be the extra couple wins we need to lock up the division.

Joe Adcock

July 17th, 2012
3:01 pm

My hat’s off to Ben Sheets. Considering the injuries, the two years out of the League, the immense pressure he had to feel coming back to a new team — how could he have been any better?? That was as good a performance as I have ever seen. The man has true grit, determination, and the will power to make it happen. Rare in this day and time… GO BRAVES! All the way! Forget winning one for the Gipper. Let’s win one for the Chipper in his last dance!! World Series, baby!

nolie

July 17th, 2012
3:02 pm

good news is we traded for Dempster, bad news is we had to put him on the DL for the third time this season and have no idea how long it will take this time…..

TennesseePaul

July 17th, 2012
3:02 pm

many folks in pitching thought Tommy was a walking time bomb, and most all were worried about too much arm stress

I remember watching him before he came up. Couple times he pitched in ST and gassed 98/99mph. And then everything I’d read was about his delivery. Good or bad, people focused on that from the getgo.

Tumbledown

July 17th, 2012
3:03 pm

It certainly would be intriguing if the Braves made the playoffs as a wild card team and had to face off in a one game winner take all duel with the Pirates, twenty years after the famous Sid Bream slide. The Pirates would certainly be motivated.

I know, that is a long way off. Back to the present. Please bring in another quality starting pitcher, Wren.

Mixxo

July 17th, 2012
3:03 pm

Lets Go or somethin’ !!

Frankie

July 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

no risk, no reward

Shaun

July 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

nolie, I would guess what Sheets does is separate from what the Braves will go after in the trade market. If a trade isn’t made, I think it will have more to do with what other teams are asking and what the Braves don’t want to part with.

I don’t think even 3-4 more impressive starts from Sheets changes all that much in the way of what the Braves are in the market for. Sheets is still an injury risk, no matter how well he throws in his next few starts. So I think ideally the Braves still want to get one of the better starters on the market, if they can make a trade work. And I honestly don’t think Sheets performing well in multiple starts would change what they are willing to give up or not give up. It may help with leverage because Sheets may allow the Braves to appear less desperate for pitching.

Ward

July 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

Mike Minor is over rated, and way over rated. Braves could do better. All , have a good one, and talk tonight after the game. Dempster, or Liriano. Go the Distance Wren……Peace my friends, and “Go!!!!!Braves!!!!!”

Bama Brave

July 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

Please NO Dempster!

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

Pitch FX lumps all fastballs as one, so a 2-seamer is lumped in with a 4-seamer and then averaged. I’d be very interested to see those two pitches extracted and averaged for Hanson this year.

I’ve seen some really straight 88’s and 89’s, TenneseePaul. If that’s his two seamer, he needs to work on getting some more run on it.

Like I said, maybe an additional offseason of shoulder strengthening will make him a better pitcher. If not, and we get similar 2012 results, then I’ll be much more open to trading him with 2 more seasons of control left.

nolie

July 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

always been talk about his delivery since he started and most of it was negative. the best thing was that at least it was not an inverted w…..

DS1

July 17th, 2012
3:05 pm

Ben Sheets is now my favorite Brave after Sunday’s performance and the celebration with his son’s in the clubhouse.

We have 2 weeks until the trade deadline. Somebody might need to go out and get a few bottles of valium for the blog………

Patience folks.

cricket

July 17th, 2012
3:06 pm

be patient, make Zito throw strikes and then crush ‘em

ChattTownBrian

July 17th, 2012
3:06 pm

And if Sheets injuries himself again, Braves miss the playoffs, Wren’s ass should be run offf imo. The man is a walking injury. Nothing at all against him, but to depend on him to stay healthy is irresponsible.

Also, Hudson’s ankle problem probably effects him the rest of the way.

Mixxo

July 17th, 2012
3:06 pm

Phillies back at full-strength…..Their ace is on the hill tonight in L.A….

….it’s over. :(

Braves Fan in Maine

July 17th, 2012
3:06 pm

dempster is going to be traded by the end of the week…. I would agree.. to me it seems like more teams are in the playoff hunt and pitching is a number one on alot of contending teams… the braves should try to get him but if cubs want to much then move on to another pitcher!

TennesseePaul

July 17th, 2012
3:06 pm

I’ve seen some really straight 88’s and 89’s, TenneseePaul. If that’s his two seamer, he needs to work on getting some more run on it.

Nevertheless, I’m curious to see the numbers.

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
3:07 pm

And then everything I’d read was about his delivery. Good or bad, people focused on that from the getgo.

Buster Olney had a blog about how great he was in Spring of 2009 but cautioned that folks were concerned about his delivery. And here we are….

ChattTownBrian

July 17th, 2012
3:09 pm

Nats are playing with the Braves people I bet. They get somebody to go to writers itching for news and tell them they are after Dempster. The hope is that the Braves (their biggest threat in the division) makes a panic move.

MikeY

July 17th, 2012
3:09 pm

Rather than trade for a starter, I’d prefer a relever (Beimel or Lyon) then move Medlen to the rotation.

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
3:09 pm

And if Sheets injuries himself again, Braves miss the playoffs, Wren’s ass should be run offf imo.

He will take big heat if they do nothing(or just get a pen arm and a bench bat) and miss. And he’ll deserve every bit of it – which is why I think we’re going to be making a deal for a starter.

ChattTownBrian

July 17th, 2012
3:11 pm

Hanson will always hit a wall in his career. That is my prediction. Soon as you think he’s progressed, he steps back and stays there. He’s nothing special.

DAP

July 17th, 2012
3:12 pm

efrim Tired of this hokie pokie one foot in one foot out stuff. It’s never been such a poor National League talent wise – time to go for it is now.

i totally agree, and the last two offseasons have been very frustrating to me, when there are useful players gotten for next to nothing and the braves kind of drag their feet.

in 2010, getting farnsworth and ankiel was weak, and really ticked me off. last year, bourn was awesome, but no bullpen help, which is probably the easiest thing to find at the trade deadline?

this year, the NL is ripe for the braves, and getting help in any of the SP, RP, or bench categories could go a long way. ive said before, it doesnt have to be a SP, but do something. there are some really good relievers on some terrible teams, as well as some good bench bats. dont stand pat, wren.

Mixxo

July 17th, 2012
3:12 pm

ChattTownBrian@3:09

Yer always thinkin’ ain’tcha?

;) Exactly what they’re doing….and we’ll bite.

unbelievable

July 17th, 2012
3:12 pm

I think people are too obsessed with one start from Sheets. Yes, he pitched much much better than anyone could expect. However, he was about a foot away from a Daniel Murphy 2 run hr in left center field and he gave up a ton of fly ball outs. I want to see more before I jump to conclusions and say he’s back. I also hope he can teach Hanson a thing or two.

I have major concerns about Huddy and that ankle after watching his velocity drop to 86-88 in his last start.

Braves definitely need to upgrade the rotation no matter how Sheets pitches in his next start.

Bozo ( The Clown )

July 17th, 2012
3:12 pm

bla bla bla he had 1 good start against a sh!t offense, guaranteeing a giants sweep.. anytime hopes get high in georgia the team folds..just saying, dont say you werent warned

unbelievable

July 17th, 2012
3:13 pm

Hanson is trying to rely on his slider too much now, 30% of all his pitches. Plus, he’s completely abandoned his change up.

Mixxo

July 17th, 2012
3:13 pm

I said what Olney said in 2009 too.

Hanson’s a bumb.

Memphis

July 17th, 2012
3:14 pm

If the Nats are indeed putting Strasburg on a innings limit, why wouldn’t they make a deal for another starter? I don’t know how confident they would be with Gio, Zimmerman, and Detwiler in a series. They can bump an Edwin Jackson or Detwiler to bullpen. They have guys like Anthony Rendon who they could put in a deal.

timthebrave

July 17th, 2012
3:14 pm

Nothing better than watching the Braves play well…Lets keep it going. Go Braves!

ChattTownBrian

July 17th, 2012
3:14 pm

Believe me, every time Sheets pitches or the following days after one of his starts, people will be wondering in the back of their minds if that’s the last they see of him. Wren just can’t play cheap here and cross his fingers.

Hey, that kid Simmons summed it up perfectly – you have to take chances in this game.

O.J.

July 17th, 2012
3:16 pm

I really hope the Braves get Dempster. I believe he has the clubhouse presence and mound presence to get us deep into the playoffs. Also, we wouldnt have to give up too much in the way of prospects, which we would have to do to get Greinke, who apparently needs his batteries recharged, WTF!?

Dempster would be the rock we need.

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
3:16 pm

i totally agree, and the last two offseasons have been very frustrating to me, when there are useful players gotten for next to nothing and the braves kind of drag their feet.

Agreed.

Like I’ve said, it’s a big next six months for Frank and Co.

Arkansas Transplant

July 17th, 2012
3:17 pm

I was wondering how long it would be before someone would say Medlen needs to move to the rotation.

cricket

July 17th, 2012
3:17 pm

1 good start against a sh!t offense

where do mets rank in runs scored?

at least good for nolie – with game day, the “realists” seem to be returning to melt away all sugary feeling from the blog ;)

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
3:18 pm

Plus, he’s completely abandoned his change up.

Fastball used to sit 92-94mph and now it sits 88-90mph. Changeup speed hasn’t gone down as Fastball velocity has, so it wouldn’t be as of an effective pitch for him anyway.

nolie

July 17th, 2012
3:19 pm

with 10 teams interested in him, Dempster ain’t gonna be all that cheap

cricket

July 17th, 2012
3:19 pm

if both of them go 9 inn., Zito will likely have 1.1 more K than JJ ;)

Jimmy

July 17th, 2012
3:20 pm

Efrim – you thinkin Frank Wren gets the axe?

cricket

July 17th, 2012
3:20 pm

with 10 teams interested in him, Dempster ain’t gonna be all that cheap

we need NBA style 4-team trade

nolie

July 17th, 2012
3:20 pm

kill him off in an “accident” , collect the insurance and get a replacement….

DS1

July 17th, 2012
3:21 pm

And it’s darned easy for you folks to do trades on the blog here, with absolutely no skin in the game. FW is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

Very easy to GM from your keyboard. Darned hard when you have to face the consequences of your actions.

And what is good enough? Only 1 team in 30 (realistically 10) will win it all. If you don’t win it all, or at a minimum go to the WS; will getting into the playoffs be enough?

I’m hoping we win it all. Health, development, luck, timing. But I’d be willing to bet that we probably won’t take the big prize.

Some folks will be upset if we don’t win it all. So I ask a question: What will satisfy you?

Hmmm?

nolie

July 17th, 2012
3:21 pm

no matter what happens, its pretty unlikely that Wren gets canned

RC

July 17th, 2012
3:22 pm

which we would have to do to get Greinke, who apparently needs his batteries recharged, WTF!?

I’m not sure he needs to “recharge his batteries” as much as get back into a normal pitchers routine. They had him start 3 games in a row! (He was thrown out in the 1st inning of one game, started the next day, and then started the first game after the All-Star break.) I think he’ll be fine in his next start, and they will probably give him 2 starts to showcase before seeing what their best offer is.

unbelievable

July 17th, 2012
3:22 pm

Like I’ve said, it’s a big next six months for Frank and Co.

I dont know. They may only have until October. After JS’s letter to the fans and Wren taking the gamble of bringing back the same team, he may have a short leash. Overall, Wren has done a good job with his resources, but only one wild card berth in 5 years isnt good enough. This team needs consistency.

nolie

July 17th, 2012
3:23 pm

sure, Greinke’s troubles are all on that three games :roll:

Efrim

July 17th, 2012
3:24 pm

you thinkin Frank Wren gets the axe?

No and too early to tell on that. Even if they miss, I don’t think so. But spend dollars and revamp the roster this winter and miss again next year? Makes the waters much more murky. One postseason appearance in six seasons is just not acceptable for an organization with this much talent and yes, a mid-market payroll(plenty if allocated well enough). Whether it was a trade he did or didn’t make, sooner or later it’s gotta be about results….

nolie

July 17th, 2012
3:24 pm

but only one wild card berth in 5 years isnt good enough.

sure cause all the other teams did so much better :?

Venice Jim

July 17th, 2012
3:24 pm

Atlanta Braves ‏@Braves
Tonight’s lineup vs. SF (7:10, SPSO/680AM/BRN): Bourn 8 Prado 7 Heyward 9 Jones 5 Freeman 3 McCann 2 Uggla 4 Janish 6 Jurrjens 1

unbelievable

July 17th, 2012
3:25 pm

Fastball used to sit 92-94mph and now it sits 88-90mph. Changeup speed hasn’t gone down as Fastball velocity has, so it wouldn’t be as of an effective pitch for him anyway.

His changeup velocity has dropped from 83 to 80 other the past two years. I dont really think you can put too much stock into changeup velocity when its being used only 1 % of the time. Anything with a change of speed and being located properly can be an effective pitch.

ChattTownBrian

July 17th, 2012
3:26 pm

DS1, ugh it’s a sports blog. We’ll play GM and twist our panties in a wad if we want to. Hell, I don’t have to face any of you people anyway. What do I care?

nolie

July 17th, 2012
3:26 pm

finally we have given up on the LRLRLRLR thingy

unbelievable

July 17th, 2012
3:27 pm

sure cause all the other teams did so much better

Didnt say it was fair, but after the collapse last year and no improvements over the offseason it could happen if the Braves miss the playoffs. Didnt say I wanted it to happen either.

RC

July 17th, 2012
3:27 pm

you thinkin Frank Wren gets the axe?

My guess would be that Fredo is on much thinner ice than Wren is. If the Braves don’t make the playoffs this year, I’m betting that Fredo is gone. That COULD be the end for Wren as well, but it seems unlikely. I think his moves as the GM have been a positive overall, but it’s possible that if Fredo is fired then Wren will be fired as well, as Fredo was “his guy”.

brian

July 17th, 2012
3:27 pm

I like that lineup. It will look even better with Simmon hitting 7th and Ugga 8th

Frankie

July 17th, 2012
3:27 pm

“but only one wild card berth in 5 years isnt good enough.

sure cause all the other teams did so much better ”

Probably don’t think you would fine that on a mantle or plaque in the Cardinal’s executive offices. I think FW probably doesn’t use those words either.

brian

July 17th, 2012
3:28 pm

Dempster is not going to be a Brave. He pitched his way off our radar by getting on the LAD, BoSox, etc. radar

RC

July 17th, 2012
3:28 pm

finally we have given up on the LRLRLRLR thingy

I think it’s less that, and more that we’ve just given up on the Dan Uggla thingy (for the time being)

Brian from SC

July 17th, 2012
3:28 pm

No Diaz…interesting…

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