So now that the euphoria over the Braves’ acquisition of Michael Bourn has somewhat subsided and we’re back to watching a team that teases you one week and then gets slapped around by the Washington Nationals the next, here’s a question:
What the heck happened to the starting pitching?
Derek Lowe is a mess — an even bigger mess than he was before. In his last five starts (1-4), Lowe has allowed 23 runs (22 earned), 42 hits and nine walks in 26.1 innings, which computes to an earned run average of 7.86. (The Braves were certainly open to moving Lowe at the trade deadline but nobody would touch his annual $15 million salary, nor even a significant part of it.)
Jair Jurrjens, 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA before the All-Star break, is 0-1 with a 6.26 ERA in four starts since.
And this may be the worst of all: In the first half (92 games), Braves starters were 39-25 with a 3.23 ERA and allowed opponents a batting average of .236. In the second half (19 games), starters are 5-8 with a 5.19 ERA and opponents are hitting .281.
One stat that seam heads like to pay attention to is “OPS” (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). Opponents’ OPS against Braves starters in the first half was .643. In the second half, it’s .831.
I’m not a huge numbers guy. But this stinks.
(One addendum: I don’t want to throw Tim Hudson under the bus. He is actually 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA since the All-Star break after going 8-6 with a 3.57 in the first half.)
For as much as the Braves look to have World Series potential on paper, they’re not going anywhere — maybe not even to the postseason — with this kind of pitching.
Unlike the team’s offensive problems for much of this season, the pitching woes can’t partially be attributed to injury problems (at least nothing that has been reported). They’re all healthy.
There’s a lot to like about the Braves’ lineup. But if they need to start winning games 9-7, they’re in trouble.
By Jeff Schultz