The good news: The Braves will enter September not having to worry about making the playoffs. The less-good news: They’ll enter September with growing cause to worry over what might happen in the Division Series.
More to the point: Is Derek Lowe looking more and more like your Game 2 starter?
To recap: Jair Jurrjens hurt his knee and has been substandard — 33 baserunners in 18 1/3 innings, 11 earned runs — since exiting the disabled list, and Tommy Hanson is on the DL with a torn rotator cuff (but doesn’t need surgery). You’d have to figure Jurrjens will find himself over this next month, but what if he doesn’t?
Tim Hudson in Game 1: Any team could live with that. But the Lowe of 2011 hasn’t much resembled the Lowe of 2010. (Lest we forget, he was the Game 1 and Game 4 starter in last season’s NLDS.) His ERA in July was 5.86. His ERA in August — he’ll start tonight, so this is subject to change — is 5.18. Three of his past four starts have actually been good, but he’s 8-12 on the season with an ERA of 4.63.
By way of contrast, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor both have lower ERAs than, er, Lowe. Both are rookies. Would Fredi Gonzalez choose Beachy and/or Minor over a 38-year-old who has made a dozen postseason starts?
September figures to be mostly for show standings-wise — the Braves trail the Phillies by 7 1/2 games but lead the Giants by 9 1/2 — but not pitching-wise. The Braves must see what’s left of their formerly formidable rotation. The ideal scenario, duh, would be to have Jurrjens, Hanson and Hudson work the division series against Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum/Randy Wolf, but it’s unclear who’ll be ready/able by Game 1.
By Mark Bradley