There’s time enough for Hudson to make a difference

Tim Hudson doing his rehab work. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Tim Hudson doing rehab. He'll have work to do in the bigs as well. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

When Tim Hudson makes his first big-league start of 2009 on Monday, there’ll be 32 games remaining in the regular season. If we count by fives, he could get seven starts. It’s late, but he could still tip the balance in the wild card scramble.

Hudson is a big-time pitcher. Let’s not forget that. Adding him to the Braves’ rotation — if we assume the Hudson of August/September is indeed the Hudson of old — could have the same impact Cliff Lee made on the Phillies’ rotation when he joined it. Except for this part:

The Phils’ rotation contained massive holes; the Braves’ rotation has been good all season.

Lee has given the Phillies five quality starts in five appearances. Kenshin Kawakami, whose place in the rotation Hudson is apparently taking, provided 12 quality starts in 24 appearances this season, which isn’t bad for the No. 5 man in a rotation. (Javier Vazquez has had 16 quality starts in 25 tries, by way of comparison.)

Kawakami hasn’t been Koufax, but he’s been pretty good. His ERA (4.08) is better than Derek Lowe’s (4.48). His record isn’t pretty — he’s 5-10 — but the Braves won eight of the final 15 games he started. He gave them a chance most nights. He did his job.

At his best, Hudson would be an upgrade. But it’s not going to be easy for a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery to do a lot better than Kawakami has done. Maybe Hudson will go 6-1 — granted, that’s a giddy best-case scenario — where Kawakami would have gone 3-4. That’s a three-game bump. That could mean nothing at all. Or it could mean a postseason berth.

The Braves trail Colorado, the wild card leader, by 4 1/2 games. This could get very, very tight.

87 comments Add your comment

Steve

August 28th, 2009
3:14 am

Bradley you work late…this thing certainly is not over, but dropping a home series to a team like the Padres is not very encouraging.

Karl

August 28th, 2009
3:49 am

The Cliff Lee comparisons go to far, Bradley. Tim Hudson has looked great and been hitting the low to mid 90s in rehab, but he’ll be in a tight pitch count and you just never know. As much as I distrust Kawakami you can’t ignore the fact that he’s been the Braves best big game pitcher of late. I’d rather see Lowe demoted. I’m not sure that 75% of Tim Hudson is better than 100% of Kawakami down the stretch. Giving Hudson the ball vs. the Marlins in Florida Monday sure seems awfully confident in a guy coming off Tommy John.

Karl Moats
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130on2

August 28th, 2009
4:33 am

I distrust Kawakami but I don’t know if Hudson will be ready or not. I am afraid Hudson will be so-so at best resulting in the Braves getting rid of him. Next year, however, I expect Hudson to be great again.

Dr. Warren

August 28th, 2009
4:46 am

When your season hinges on the return of an already inconsistent pitcher from Tommy John surgery, you know the playoffs are unlikely at best. Two home losses to the league’s worst team during a playoff drive? Chasing the NL’s hottest team? Wait till next year.

Coach (2010 or Bust)

August 28th, 2009
4:51 am

I’m a big Tim Hudson fan as he’s from my home town. That said, whether or not Hudson is ready to pitch will soon be determined by the results on the mound. Personally, I think it’s too soon.

So back to the old…..if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

Cox and Wren are about to look real smart or real stupid. My money is on the later.

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 28th, 2009
5:25 am

I hope Huddy does well at the plate to becuase that’s what this team needs most. Hits, hits, and more hits. The staff has more than pulled its weight this season.

MarkD335

August 28th, 2009
6:25 am

Comparing the Phils’ acquisition of Cliff Lee to a Hudson coming off Tommy John is sort of a stretch. Kawakami has seriously suffered from lack of run support, which points to the real culprit here… an overall lack of offensive pop. Without the acquisition of a big bat, I’m afraid this pitching switch won’t amount to much and they’re still likely to come up short, altho I’m encouraged by Wren’s work overall in upgrading the team.

ExecutiveStinger

August 28th, 2009
7:20 am

I hope it’s true Mark, but I’m not sure if Huddy or anyone else can save what our “esteemed” manager has run into the ground. Once again, his decisions have befuddled me. Finally, Manny Acosta has been sent down, but because of overuse, not because he STINKS. Bobby sounded like he couldn’t wait to get him back up here when the rosters expand. Greg Norton continues to be a joke but gets in almost every night in a clutch situation, Chipper has been given a free pass to go out there and stink it up every night. Two hits last night is the least of what he owes this team offensively. I’ll give it to Bobby for trying Diaz at leadoff last night, but of course that decision comes after 2 dreadful losses. Like most things Cox, and Wren to some extent, have done this season: too little too late.

Hope it happens, but college football is coming and my focus, like the last 3 years, is shifting rapidly……

Bama Aaron

August 28th, 2009
7:29 am

Personally I’d rather see Huddy take Lowe’s spot in the rotation this weekend in Philly. The way Lowe’s sinker has been staying up & floating he might give up 6 long balls that day.
Kawakami has pitched well, you just have to remember to take him out in the 6th regardless what the score is as he has no long game endurance.

Nativebird

August 28th, 2009
7:50 am

and pitchers and catchers report when in 2010?

Mitch C

August 28th, 2009
7:51 am

Mark, I agree with you. I think the Braves still have a chance. If you read your co worker Jeff Schultz’s column, we should all be saying “See ya later, Braves”, and be getting ready for 2010. I dont see it that way.

While we all know Colorado has been playing very well lately, they could well hit a dry spell. Jeff talked about us having to play 10 games over 500 to catch Colorado if the Rockies play 500 ball, and that we would need to go 24-11 if the Rockies play at their current pace. I say, it might be somewhere inbetween. I think the Rockies will slow down, and that the Braves can pick it up.

One thing we cannot do is do things like lose two of three to bottom feeders like San Diego. That series hurt us. Yes, we still have games left with good teams on the road such as the Phillies and Cardinals, but we also have a lot of games left with bottom feeders the Metropolitans, and the Nationals.

I’m not saying we will win the wild card, but I’m saying we still have a chance, and I dont think the situation is as bleak as Jeff makes it seem.

Mitch

greg

August 28th, 2009
8:01 am

pie in the sky to think Hudson will be 6 and 1…he may get 5 starts…2 quality and gets killed 3 times…mark it down

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 28th, 2009
8:07 am

i think I hear Don Meredith warming up to do a little Willie Nelson number.

Dandy Don

August 28th, 2009
8:19 am

Turn out the lights, the party’s over. They say that all good things must end.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

August 28th, 2009
8:31 am

I think the Braves should acquire Nick Green for some bullben help.

Mark why don’t you call Hudson, Huddy. I think Cox is a nick name master….Huddy, Greenie, Frenchie, Smoltzie, Jonesie……I wonder what he called Bob Horner?

Angus

August 28th, 2009
8:33 am

Is this the first time in three years we’ve had more than 85% of the payroll going to the active roster?

Paul H

August 28th, 2009
8:40 am

Agree with Bama Aaron – take Lowe’s spot. It will be good to see Huddy get some starts to finish out this season – good practice for next year. This season is over but getting him in there now will help him.

dap01

August 28th, 2009
8:53 am

What is the rush? I hope that Tim is ready but history shows that TJ surgery players are not especially sharp for the first weeks, months after the surgery. Will he be better than a 4.00 era? I hope so.

MightyQuinn

August 28th, 2009
9:03 am

I like the Braves chances better than I like my Mega-Millions chances.

Don

August 28th, 2009
9:10 am

First of all, it is unlikely that Hudson will prove to be very effective this soon after that kind of surgery. Secondly, with Bobby Cox managing, we are not going to compete for the wild card. With our pitching and without him blundering in so many different ways especially in the first half of the season, we would now be leading the Division. What IF HE HAD: started using Prado much sooner, started usind Diaz sooner, benched Francoeur when it became obvious he was not going to produce, not continued to use a couple of relief pitchers when it became obvious they were not going to be effective, made adjustments in his batting order relating to hitters who where hot or cold, not continuously misused the bullpen, made any effort to teach/emphasize the absolute necessity for hitters to work the count/ be selecitve, make the opposing pitcher throw a lot of pitches, not made continous blunders within game strategies etc. etc?????????

Tami

August 28th, 2009
9:16 am

I’m equally optimistic. However, the Braves will be playing the Marlins on Monday. They have some great young hitters on that team, that Hudson may not have faced before or just a few times before. This will be his first chance at facing major-league hitting (vs. the minors). I really hope he’s fantastic coming out of the gate on his first opportunity to pitch in well over a year. I have a business meeting Monday night, so I’ll miss a good portion of the game…darn it. However, I am choosing to wait to see how he does Monday before I can gauge how I think things will go for the remainder of the season. At any rate — whether the Braves are postseason contenders this season or not — they will make it tough for the other teams to get in. Out of the spoilers bunch in the league, they might be the best team in that category. We shall see. I personally believe that the team — if they can hold on to their pitchers (or get even better without losing the solid talent already on the team and the fledgling farm in the process), are just one major bat away from a solid, contending team. Whatever they do this season, 2010 should be awesome.

TommyP

August 28th, 2009
9:30 am

The Cliff Lee comparison isn’t one I’d use. Cliff Lee has been Cy Young dominant. And all the Phils needed was a good starter to go with their incredible offense.

Another good starter for the Braves? Hope he hits like Carlos Zambrano ’cause we need another, err, A bopper in the lineup.

mudcat

August 28th, 2009
9:31 am

Bank Walker, you’re right about Bobby and his nicknames. When he called out to Bob Horner he would say “come on Hornie”. That’s where the famous expression “I’m so horney” originated.

ann lewis

August 28th, 2009
9:37 am

let’s see cox is done, jones is done, wren traded good players for worse. the braves are done.
time for wren and cox togo oh and while your at it, take church, diaz, jones, andlafort or whatever his name is with them.

Joseph

August 28th, 2009
9:40 am

Braves are finished however I hope they play well enough to take 2nd in the East and get close to enough to Colorado to get everyone on board for a serious run in 2010. If the Braves would not have been so reliant on Johnson, Shaffer, and Frenchy at trhe beginnig of the season, we would definately be going to the playoffs this year. At least we are better than last!

raleighbravefan

August 28th, 2009
9:49 am

The next 7 games are make or break, especially (possibly) break. We’ve got to get hot and stay hot with the bats. September expansion will help, but it helps everyone else, too.
Pitching staff has done thier job, including KK. Many loses have been due to poor run support. Lowe has been pretty good overall, but is seriously overpaid compared to rest of staff. Kodos to Wren for pitching moves. (remember last year?) We have enough depth to use everyone (including Medlin and Carlyle) to limit KK, Hudson, etc. to shorter outings while they are still effective.
Go Braves, and don’t give up until you are eliminated. Then look forward to a great 2010.

jimma

August 28th, 2009
9:54 am

season`s lost bring up kids in the minors fire WREN

raleighbravefan

August 28th, 2009
9:54 am

anne lewis – Which “good players for bad” trades has Wren made? LaRoach? McClouth? Vasques? You cannot posibly believe Francure was a good player for us when traded. Diaz has been great for the role he plays. And would you prefer to still have Corky Miller as backup catcher?

leland

August 28th, 2009
9:56 am

Dear Mr. MB–I’m not too sure about replacing Kawakami with Hudson–he may not be ready yet. But maybe Hudson and Cox know more about it than I do. Your pal, Leland

DP

August 28th, 2009
10:05 am

I don’t get how Hudson is going to make a big difference given that starting pitching has not been the Braves problem this year. If he was a slugging outfielder who could bat cleanup, then he might make a difference.

Bat Masterson

August 28th, 2009
10:06 am

mudcat, I thought Tommy Lee Jones came up with that in ” coal Miners Daughter”.

Justafan

August 28th, 2009
10:08 am

Hope Hudson don’t get killed like Smoltz did the first few games. Hud is no C Lee! Lowe, well he got alot of money for??????????? What happen to the big bat Frank Wren ? LaRoach has been great but not enought.

This season is history. The fat lady is singing, some people just need a hearing aid. Braves need new coaches and new Mgr. Cox needs to retire or be retired. God forbid another season with Bobby in control.

Herschel Talker

August 28th, 2009
10:31 am

See the numbers in Schultz’s column. It’s over. Not happening. Losing 2 of 3 to San Diego sealed it. Assume they split with Philly and Florida for the rest of the year. Then they probably have to win 80%+ of the other games. Yeah, that’s going to happen. Sure.

WHAT?????

August 28th, 2009
10:41 am

Kawakami has been dubbed the “dragon slayer” and we’re going to replace him? Unless Hudson can swing the bat like he did at Auburn he isn’t going to help this team make a push.

David

August 28th, 2009
10:41 am

Let him take Lowe’s spot in the rotation. He’s terrible. At some point we should just ‘fess up that we blew money on a guy who can’t throw hard, and is having a hard time getting ground ball outs. If he can’t get ground ball outs, he’s useless.

Matt

August 28th, 2009
10:42 am

Make a difference?? In what, the lack of run support??

mudcat

August 28th, 2009
11:08 am

Bat, it’s obviously a famous expression. When I was stationed overseas the ladies were always saying “me so horney G.I.”

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

August 28th, 2009
11:24 am

I don’t think he’s ready to be in the starting rotation just yet. Huddy used to be my fave, but I don’t see him tipping the scales.

Mark Bradley

August 28th, 2009
11:37 am

Duly noted, Ms. CB. And I’m kind of sorry Kenshin gets dropped. I think he has gotten kind of a bad rap. He’s been OK. He did what the Braves hired him to do.

dyldawg

August 28th, 2009
11:51 am

espn said that the braves arent done

Mark Bradley

August 28th, 2009
11:55 am

Well, if ESPN said it, it must be true.

But clearly they’re not out of it. The Colorado Rockies were 76-72 on Sept. 15, 2007. They won 21 of the next 22 games and played in the Series. This is baseball. Baseball’s a funny game.

dyldawg

August 28th, 2009
11:56 am

Mark do you see them calling up Heyward and in the playoffs?

Mark Bradley

August 28th, 2009
11:58 am

I don’t, DylDawg. But Frank Wren hasn’t asked my opinion.

dyldawg

August 28th, 2009
11:58 am

Mark do the braves call up Heyward?

dyldawg

August 28th, 2009
11:59 am

What about the playoffs?

PWHjort

August 28th, 2009
12:02 pm

I think this:

And I’m kind of sorry Kenshin gets dropped. I think he has gotten kind of a bad rap. He’s been OK. He did what the Braves hired him to do.

Is exactly right. Though he’s not being demoted or anything. The Braves said they will not pitch Kawakami out of the bullpen and he will start again. Good for him, he deserves to stay in the rotation. He hasn’t been the worst of the five, even. That would be Derek Lowe.

Mark Bradley

August 28th, 2009
12:03 pm

A player has to be on the big-league roster on Sept. 1 to be playoff-eligible.

Aunt Esther

August 28th, 2009
12:18 pm

I always seem to come in late to these blogs when I want to comment, but the truth is, the wild card is there for the taking. The Braves, if they had swept the Padres, would be 2.5 out (11 over .500). Give the Padres credit: for a team going nowhere this season, they are still battling. You have to respect them for that.

Still, the Braves cannot afford to go to Philadelphia and get swept. It probably wouldn’t be the end of the season losing 2-3, but I don’t think emotionally they could come back from a sweep.

Actually, I expect them to go into Philly this weekend and play well. I think we’ll win the series. If so, maybe it, with the return of Tim Hudson, will be enough to give the Braves a momentum boost to win something like 12-15, etc, etc.

Finally, I keep looking at “games over .500.” I don’t think it is realistic to talk about the playoffs when the team in question isn’t even 10 games over .500 (equaling 86 wins). It is most likely, however, going to take 90 wins (at the LEAST) to win the wild card = 18 games over. This stat is what I watch more than any other. If the Braves aren’t 10-12 over by the end of next week, it is unlikely they’re going anywhere.

Finally, dyldawg, I don’t think we’ll call up Heyward because it will start the arbitration clock on him. I saw him play last weekend and he seems to be the real deal. He can play rightfield as well as Francoeur (who I believe is one of the very best), he’s very fast, and looks to be a “five tool” player.

He reminds me from a physical standpoint of Darryl Strawberry. That’s pretty good company to be in as DS could have been one of the very best if not for his off-the-field problems.

I hope if the Braves get a good run they will call him up. He and Hudson could be the extra push they need to make the playoffs.

Jurrjens4NLCY {Knoble.MLBlogs.com}

August 28th, 2009
12:22 pm

I can’t wait for Hudon’s return!!

Innocent Bystander

August 28th, 2009
12:28 pm

Mark, a bit of clarity. Does a player have to remain on the roster for the entirety of September to be playoff-eligible? And for that matter, let’s say they decide to give Nate a few more days before activating him and perhaps activate him on Sept. 3. Would he be eligible for October?