A Lowe-down dirty shame – the Braves’ ace is in a hole

Two days ago I called Derek Lowe the Braves’ ace because that’s how I’ve come to see him. Alas, he’s not pitching like one. We can hope this is a momentary lapse, the kind every pitcher must endure and correct over the course of a six-month season. But the cold truth is that Lowe isn’t looking Lowe-like.

Over his past six starts he has yielded 48 hits and 24 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings. He has won once in a month. He has had to be removed in the middle of innings in his past three outings. His ERA has grown from 3.45 on May 23 to 4.53 today. Only once since he settled in as a big-league pitcher more than a decade ago has Lowe finished a season with an ERA that lofty.

This is, as I say, unlike him. And the reason Lowe isn’t being Lowe is because his famed sinker seems not to be sinking. Over his first 10 starts — six of them wins — he recorded 101 ground outs against 47 air outs. Over his past six starts — four of them losses — the ratio is 53 against 33.

You can say, “Well, maybe he’s starting to get tired.” But sinkerballers tend to throw better sinkers when they’re a bit weary. (That’s what makes them so maddening for opposing hitters.) Dave O’Brien’s game story gave no hint of arm trouble, just Lowe citing a lack of command and vowing to work harder.

Ah, well. A session or two with Roger McDowell will surely remedy all ills. We need only remind ourselves of the vast number of pitchers McDowell has fixed over his three-plus seasons here. Like … well, like … somebody give me a hint, OK?

60 comments Add your comment

mobetta

June 26th, 2009
2:37 pm

What kind of deodorant does Lowe wear? He should switch because he “stinks” so much lately.

HAAAA!!! im hilarious.

Adam

June 26th, 2009
2:37 pm

I think Derek Lowe has a better chance of teaching Roger McDowell how to be a coach.

DC from Conyers

June 26th, 2009
2:54 pm

Lowe is like alot of other Braves right now, he is in a funk. If you knew anything about him you would knw no one works any harder and is more dedicated to his trade than he. He is a horse a work horse. Everyone should just be thankful we have a Major league team and start pulling for them. They are just having bad luck. Like I have stated before some of the problems are Coaching. When I see baserunning mistakes by Younel or someone else I see nobody talking to them. They don’t have to denigrate the player but constructive critasism is what they need. Watch the game you will see what I’m talking about. Go Braves

Anakin Joe

June 26th, 2009
2:58 pm

Gosh, Mark. Are you on a 5 blogs/day quota? How many keyboards have you worn out in the past 2 weeks?

El Bravo

June 26th, 2009
2:59 pm

Maybe if he consults Rudy Jaramillo…

FDB

June 26th, 2009
3:11 pm

I expect that Lowe has an arm injury. And it is probably a season-ending variety. Otherwise, the Braves would never have had the chance to sign him. He will probably go on the DL for two years, and then sign with another team for mega-bucks. Unfortunately, I can not see a way for us to squuander top prospects on his trip to the DL so as to make the situation worse. But I am sure there will be other opportunities. John Schuerholz has ruined this franchise. Frank Wren please stop the bleeding….

Adam

June 26th, 2009
3:24 pm

You know what? Let him skip a start…. Put Medlen in there and see what it does. We’re losing anyway.

NC Braves Fan

June 26th, 2009
3:27 pm

FDB – the Tokyo Rose of the Bradley Blog. ;)

El Bravo

June 26th, 2009
3:34 pm

Luckily we have Tom Glavine getting ready in the Minors if Lowe needs to miss a couple of starts… Tommy? You there???

JM

June 26th, 2009
3:41 pm

Lowe historically has been a streaky pitcher. Think back to Mike Hampton’s days with the Braves (before he started breaking down) – he’d have stretches where he’d get hammered, then he’d go into shutdown mode for about a month or two. That’s kind of how Lowe’s been throughout his career.

I remember back in 2004 he was really getting pounded, then he slowly started to round into form late in the year and by October he had become the ace of Boston’s staff. No one could touch him in the playoffs that year. Last year’s another good example of this. His ERA was 4.11 on August 11th; by the end of the year he had lowered it almost a full run to 3.24 by giving up one run or fewer in eight of his last nine starts.

So I’m not really worried about Lowe because I knew when we signed him we were getting a somewhat inconsistent pitcher. I don’t really know how to explain it, other than he’s a rhythm pitcher who relies on the movement of his sinker rather than overpower stuff. Once he gets in a groove, you’re going to start to see the Lowe that everyone raved about when we got him.

Mac

June 26th, 2009
3:42 pm

He’ll be OK. Maybe he can hire Leo Mazzone to work with him in the backyard between starts.

Benjamin

June 26th, 2009
3:43 pm

Called into Buck and Kincaid on the day of the signing to express my displeasure… first and foremost, I LIKE Derek Lowe. He’s a solid pitcher, and has been for a while now. I just didn’t view him as a particular difference maker, and long-term, giving him four years and all that money was a risk in ad of itself. He’ll be 39 at the end of the deal and making a LOT of cheese because we wanted to “act swiftly” due to all the shenanigans that went down with botched moves this offseason.

How are we still just four games back?

El Bravo

June 26th, 2009
3:45 pm

Well, he better get it together because we need him to pitch deep into games… for his bat! The man has a .240 OBP. That’s Francoeur territory…

Paul H

June 26th, 2009
4:07 pm

Our pitching is the only strength for this team and we are still sub-500. Mazzone would have had guys like Lowe pitching lights out. I’m really not sure what McDowell gets paid for.

Mark Bradley

June 26th, 2009
4:12 pm

Let me be clear about this: I really like Derek Lowe — good pitcher, good guy. And when his sinker is working, it’s among the nastiest pitches in the sport. (I remember the Braves laughing about how “heavy” it was during his first spring session in Lake Buena Vista.) But it doesn’t seem to be working right now.

But it’s true: Pitchers have slumps, just like hitters. Even Koufax lost a game.

El Bravo

June 26th, 2009
4:19 pm

Lowe will be ok. His velocity was fine yesterday and his movement was fine but his location was horrible. He was starting his sinker high and he kept moving it to the middle of the plate. I’m sure Leo Mazzone will get him painting the low, outside corner in now time… What’s that? No Leo? Oops… He’s in trouble…

Cuz

June 26th, 2009
5:13 pm

Sandy Koufax lost a game? Next thing you will tell me is that Dizzy Dean did not invent dog food.

SlimG

June 26th, 2009
5:15 pm

Doc his pay $10K a start until he gets it right! If only baseball worked that way.

Mark Bradley

June 26th, 2009
5:22 pm

Koufax lost his last game, as a matter of fact. To Baltimore in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series. Willie Davis made three errors in center field.

Supes

June 26th, 2009
5:30 pm

Mark,

You must be hell bent on breaking some kind of sports blog record (number of blogs turned out in the month of June has been staggering). Do you ever sleep or does the AJC now pay you “per blog” entry:)

Onto Derek Lowe,

Like DOB pointed out. Nothing much to worry about right now. Derek Lowe is truly a number 3 starter in the 2010 Braves rotation (if all our guys are healthy), check it out.

1. Tim Hudson
2. Jair Jurrjens
3. Derek Lowe
4. Javy Vazquez or Kenshin Kawakami
5. Tommy Hanson

Not bad 1-5 all the way around you look at it. Only if the offense from LF, RF and 2B wasn’t so shotty and streaky, you never know!

Coach ( 2010 or Bust)

June 26th, 2009
5:40 pm

Calling doctor Leo, calling doctor Leo. Report to the Braves infirmary, er, bullpen.

Bill Heller

June 26th, 2009
5:45 pm

Somebody teach Franceour how to throw a knuckleball! HURRY!

Reid Adair

June 26th, 2009
6:02 pm

Like you, Mark, I hope this is just a temporary setback. I hope this isn’t confirming those who said signing Derek Lowe in the off-season was not as big an accomplishment for Frank Wren as some thought it was.

jacket3

June 26th, 2009
6:10 pm

Best thing Bennett could do. He is worthless – mind – body -and delivery. My kids can hit the guy. the Yanks wow tasty offering. Bash the door, break the hand, Save his own bacon is what he did. Worst Performance yet. “When will they learn…when will they ever learn?”.

What a mess. Buy tickets to the circus….at least you can see real clowns and not wax dummy’s pretending to be professional baseball players.

I really hate to be negative. I always accent the positive in anything I do but come on get with the program. I guess these guys want your money for sloppy play, bone head decisions and sloppy top office decisions…and you are paying for it fans…Drink a beer for me when the Sox come for business. The braves are eating fries at the Varsity and watching the best plays of the day on ESPN…..

Justafan

June 26th, 2009
6:20 pm

Every time we get a good player he turn into crap with the Braves. Thanks to Bobby Cox.

El Bravo

June 26th, 2009
6:59 pm

Justafan, some day you’ll have to explain to me how Bobby turned Lowe into crap…

Livin in AL

June 26th, 2009
7:09 pm

Maybe we should switch coaches, let Pendleton work with the pitchers and McDowell work with the hitters.

Benjamin

June 26th, 2009
7:30 pm

Question, Mark, if you’re reading:

Were you in approval of giving D-Lowe a four year deal?

My main irritation with the contract Lowe landed was that he got four years, guaranteed money. He’s never been a health risk. He’s got a history of being solid. I’m just worried about the last two, though I’m sure he wouldn’t have signed with us had we only given him three.

What are your thoughts?

Benjamin

June 26th, 2009
7:35 pm

Onto Derek Lowe,

Like DOB pointed out. Nothing much to worry about right now. Derek Lowe is truly a number 3 starter in the 2010 Braves rotation (if all our guys are healthy), check it out.

1. Tim Hudson
2. Jair Jurrjens
3. Derek Lowe
4. Javy Vazquez or Kenshin Kawakami
5. Tommy Hanson

————————————————–

I’ve got to admit, I like that rotation for next year. Good post, Supes.

Were I the manager, and I know I’m not, provided all those arms remained, Kawakami would be my Mike Marshall. I’d pitch him two or three innings a game, 80 times a year. My bullpen would be him, Medlen, Moylan, Soriano, Gonzo, and whatever token lefty we could land on the cheap as a specialist. (I write this knowing almost certainly that we’ll lose one or both of our 8th and 9th inning aces to free agency this year, but a man can dream.)

We should be loaded for 2010, with a full season of Tommy and the assumption that Kelly bounces back. I think, personally, that we’re going to likely trade Vaz this offseason — his value has never been higher (because he’s been great for us thus far) — for a bat, but I hope that doesn’t happen. We’ll see what we do with Francoeur. We’ll see what Heyward does in Arizona this winter and in Spring Training. There’s reason for hope…

Bill

June 26th, 2009
7:43 pm

Mark, If possible could you get interview with Brad Mills and John Farrell. Maybe ask if they’ are open to being Managers one day etc…You don’t have to mention the Braves job. Love to hear what they have to say.

David Duncan

June 26th, 2009
8:22 pm

I knew that Lowe was being overpaid when the Braves signed him. He will never be more than 500 percentage winning pitcher. He will go something like 14 and 13 this year. Hardly the makings of the ace of your pitching staff.

Scott S.

June 26th, 2009
8:22 pm

Pathetic, the Lets Go Red Sox chant in Atlanta is a bit too loud for my liking!!!

79

June 26th, 2009
9:43 pm

What kind of money would Koufax commanded coming off 27 wins, 317 strikeouts, 5 shutouts, and his career best 1.73 ERA….if 1966 was 2009 and Koufax was a free agent in ‘10? I’m thinking Barack Obama bailout numbers.

Average Joe

June 26th, 2009
9:55 pm

I’ll always love the Braves, but it’s getting harder and harder to remain optimistic about this year. I was one of the kool-aid drinkers who thought that just maybe the consecutive shutouts against the Cubs and Yankees were an omen. Oh well, I’ve never liked kool-aid anyway!

As for Mr. Lowe, I’ve never seen him as the ace of the staff. JJ and Vasquez have each done much more to earn that title. He’s still a darn good pitcher to be sure, but he’s not the best we have.

I think we fans had better realize that as long as Liberty Media owns the team, we’re in for some long hot summers. They just don’t seem to care. At least we have the memories from 1991-2005 to make us happy. And of course, we’ll always have Bobby Cox. Apparently managing the Braves is like being appointed to the Supreme Court, for life and regardless of performance.

mike

June 26th, 2009
10:20 pm

Well here we are. Reduced to cheering the fact that we broke up the shutout in the 9th. How pathetic.

LSU

June 26th, 2009
10:29 pm

Mark Bradley,

Wow!!! Good for you for calling out Roger McDowell, but I digress..Again, shouldn’t the Braves manager (whatever his name is) be the one taking heat (not a chance in hell that’ll happen) for the Braves being totally crappy for 3.5 seasons now? I forget, Bobby Cox is never to be questioned.

A. Young

June 26th, 2009
10:37 pm

Maybe he should check with Jeff Francoeur’s many hitting coaches.

Ball Hound

June 26th, 2009
10:59 pm

We finish in 4th, cause no matter what, Nats can’t escape cellar this year. That said, what’s the difference if we trade a few established guys for a boatload of good prospects to stock the upper farms with? I’m talking Chipper, Garret, Gonzo, Kotchman, maybe Prado, Frenchy or KJ, if they have any value, maybe one veteran arm. Think what “contenders” will be willing to give up next month for that missing piece, or role player.

The Professor

June 27th, 2009
1:52 am

I was at the game Thursday night. 3 people, Braves “fans,” arrived in the bottom of the 2nd. They left after the top of the 3rd when Damon tripled, giving sport’s greatest franchise a 6-1 lead. Typical Braves fans: come late/leave early. BTW, the greatest closer in the history of the game got Save #499 v. the hapless locals. At least they managed to get the ball out of the infield agianst him, which is more than they did Tuesday night. Not that you’d read about this in the local fishwrap. They’d rather devote more column inches to the continued wisdom of B. Cox, once arrested for WBUI.

P Rose

June 27th, 2009
2:18 am

The Lowe Slider

Boston’s vets know The Lowe Slider

The Lowe Slider hangs a little higher

Hey!

The Lowe Slider dives a little slower

Goes by slow as a ridin’ lawn mower

Take a little trip, take a little trip, take a little trip with me

Take a little trip, take a little trip, down to Turner Field to see

The Lowe Slider don’t go too fast now

The Lowe Slider don’t have no gas now

Hey!

Lowe’s Downslide is so uncanny now

Lowe’s Slider can’t get my granny out

Sloan

June 27th, 2009
8:15 am

Derek Lowe’s little slump aside, let’s face it. The Braves cannot score runs. And the defense is more than a little sloppy. Our line-up doesn’t scare anyone, and the Nate McClouth trade is turning out to be much-a-do about nothing!

MrDan

June 27th, 2009
8:23 am

Who wants to pitch for a team you know is not going to produce runs. I hate to say it but it’s time to change the hitting coach. This team can’t hit. They must be on record for leaving runners stranded. They look at called strikes, swing and miss at 0-2. Too many players having too many games, going 0-5, 1-5 at bat. It’s bad bad bad.

Larry

June 27th, 2009
8:45 am

Come on guys! Write what you’re thinking! That is, whom of the vanilla, soft toss, girly man AJC sportswriters will be the first to publicly question or challenge the direction of the Braves under Bobby Cox?

Mark, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that it will not be Dave O’Brien, as he is clearly on a brown-nosing quest to get on radio or TV, and if Schulz does this it wold be only to get the attention before the others. However, if you, Mark, break from the obvious goober collusion you will speed pass all the others and instantly win the AJC Sportswriters Courage of the Year award. You will win the respect of your readers byt exemplifying honesty, integrity and courage, even if they disagree with you. Grow a pair, Mark! :-)

Or, Mark, you can continue to squeamishly poke fun at Roger McDowell.

Readers and bloggers,

Start calling these guys out to show some courage in their journalism!

Jeffrey

June 27th, 2009
9:20 am

WAY TO GO BRAVES! WAY TO SHOW THAT “PRO-RED SOX” CROWD AT TURNER FIELD WHO’S BOSS..AND MY, DIDN’T CHIPPER/GARRETT/CASEY LOOK GREAT STRIKING OUT IN SUCCESSION IN THE 8TH WITH 2 ON AND NO OUTS!! EXACT SAME REASON THE BRAVES COULDN’T WIN IN THE POST SEASON ALL THOSE YEARS..COULDN’T BEAT A POWER PITCHER, COULDN’T GET CLUTCH HITS WHEN THEY NEEDED THEM..LOST FAR TOO MANY PLAYOFF SERIES!! AND DEREK LOWE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME PITCHER HE WAS FOR THE RED-SOX AND DODGERS..NOT SINCE HE’S BECOME A BRAVE AND LEARNED HOW TO CHOKE WITH THE BEST OF THEM!!!

Sonny Clusters

June 27th, 2009
10:05 am

Roger McDowell was a sinker ball pitcher and Lowe has lost his sinker. That is the one thing Roger could help somebody with- throw a sinker. What is going to happen is that Roger will get fired and never find work again because Bobby Cox messed him up to. When we was playing ball together in school Jeff could throw a sinker. His momma taught him how. Jeff throwed a 2-hittter one time when we was playing ball together.

Mark Bradley

June 27th, 2009
10:49 am

P Rose strikes again. And I’ll be sitting around with “Low Rider” going through my fevered mind the rest of the summer.

“Take a little trip, take a little trip …”

See what you’ve gone and done?

Sonny Clusters

June 27th, 2009
11:21 am

Enter your comments here

Sonny Clusters

June 27th, 2009
11:24 am

I went on vacation and came back and Jeff is hitting again. I am not surprised because that boy could always hit when we was playing ball together and winning state champions. I wonder if Garrett Anderson and Jeff could hit all at once what would happen?

big o

June 27th, 2009
11:26 am

MB you are crazy dude (LOL) .Give me a hint of pitchers RM has fixed.
All that being said, for us to be loosing like we are and still be only 4 games back is amazing. If we can somehow win the next two against Boston. We always play well against the phillies. But if memory serves me It was about this time last year we were in it the phillies came to town KJ droped a game ending pop up. We never recovered. the series with philly is huge.

Sonny Clusters

June 27th, 2009
11:56 am

I was looking for the best biscuits in Atlanta and came upon this blog. I usually blog with Jeff but hes off on vacation looking for his own biscuits.

Kelly Johnson is a lot like Michael Jackson, wearing one glove for no apparent reason. When we was playing ball together I was the glove man and Jeff was mostly for hitting.