Of concern: The Braves’ playoff rotation is no longer a given

Jair Jurrjens after yielding one of three homers Tuesday. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Jair Jurrjens after yielding one of three homers Tuesday. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

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

140 comments Add your comment

Wren Hater

August 31st, 2011
9:06 am

FIRST!!

(Unlike this Braves team Wren has compiled)

Wren Hater

August 31st, 2011
9:07 am

Why the heck have so many of our starting pitches been injured during the tenure of Roger “Kids Don’t Belong at the $@#$ Ballpark!” McDowell.

I don’t recall this many serious pitching injuries during the tenure of Leo Mazzone.

Mark Bradley

August 31st, 2011
9:11 am

Kudos, Wren H.

And pitchers do get hurt. That’s the nature of the game.

tulsabravo

August 31st, 2011
9:17 am

The Braves are going to make the playoffs?

Wren Hater

August 31st, 2011
9:22 am

Yes, Mark, pitches do get hurt, but it seems more pitches per capita get hurt under the tutelage of McDowell than under Mazzone. (Hey, you started this.)

A H-E-A-L-T-H-Y and viable Jurrjens would NOT have been serving up batting practice to the Nationals last night. If only his season long conditioning has been overseen by Mazzone rather than the pervert….

I pay a great deal of money for my Braves season tickets.

I want to see top-tier, HEALTHY pitching talent and not a M.A.S.H. unit.

(Watching the half-crippled 3rd baseman is depressing enough by itself.)

Wren Hater

August 31st, 2011
9:22 am

Enter your comments here

Braves

August 31st, 2011
9:22 am

It will be another 4 and done series in the playoffs. Milwaukee is on fire now and the team to beat. Will be interesting to see their 4 game series against Philly next week. That will be for home field.

coachx

August 31st, 2011
9:23 am

Start the young guns !

McCann just has to stay on Beachy about mixing up his pitches. He falls in love with his fast ball too often. He has the stuff to be a great one. The catcher just needs to help out the young kid with the pitch selection.

Minor has to start vs. the Brewers. They struggle vs. lefties.

jerry

August 31st, 2011
9:24 am

why does baseball have the dumb rule that you can’t play a team from your division in the first round?

chuckw/deadjournalist

August 31st, 2011
9:25 am

as i was awake with insomnia last night, i thought about this. (because when you can’t sleep, why not think about the braves’ rotation, right?)

as of now – and a lot can happen in the next month – i’d be inclined to go:

hudson, beachy, lowe

the nod going to lowe, based on the fact that he usually give you five innings of decent to good pitching. i don’t have stats in front of me, but his era from inning 5+ has to be much worse than 1-4.

while jj was due to regress to the norm, its hard to now wonder if he isn’t hurt. hanson can’t be counted on to be healthy either. minor and the rest of the young guys might be options, depending on how september goes.

Herschel Talker

August 31st, 2011
9:26 am

MB:

At this point, it should be Hudson, Beachy, and then ??? I mean, I don’t trust Minor yet, Lowe is still a mess, and Jurrjens is downright scary right now. Fredi is guaranteed to go with Lowe, the “safe” pick, but this pitching won’t last long in the playoffs if this keeps up.

At this point, if the season ended today, in which order would you pitch them/

HT

coachx

August 31st, 2011
9:26 am

Props to Frank Wren for keeping the top tier pitching prospects and not trading them away for a rental player. That Michael Bourne trade was genius. The Uggla signing is paying off too. He carried the team when Chipper and McCann were hurt.

dtanner

August 31st, 2011
9:29 am

philadelphia payroll 172,000,000,braves payroll 87,000,000,is one of the reasons i no longer watch baseball

Luman Harris

August 31st, 2011
9:31 am

Wren Hater has a foolish moniker. With the financial restraints in place from Liberty Media. Wren should be considered for Executive of the Year, not “hated”.

In the aftermath of the trade deadline, the man looks like a genius.

gtgoguy

August 31st, 2011
9:32 am

Actually, the Braves rotation sometimes is a good reason for insomnia.

Mark Bradley

August 31st, 2011
9:32 am

I’d agree, Manager Luman: Frank Wren has done a fine job.

Kendawg

August 31st, 2011
9:32 am

The Braves need a third baseman who can play more than 120 games a year.

I Love Frank Wren

August 31st, 2011
9:35 am

@Wrenhater…. you are an idiot. Period.

Marvin Mangrum

August 31st, 2011
9:36 am

Regardless of your name, regardless your fame, daggumit, if you get hurt and are out more than two days you need to go to the minor leauges and rehabilitate. Regardless. One week for hitters, two weeks for throwers. You should not get hurt be out two weeks then come back to the team not ready to preform at a major league level. They have all been as such. To a man.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 31st, 2011
9:37 am

I trust Beachy in Game 2. I don’t trust Minor (or Teheran or Delgado) in that kind of situation yet.

Hudson and Beachy and pray the weather ain’t peachy.

Iceman

August 31st, 2011
9:38 am

Lowe always gets better as the weather cools. By October, he will be ready for a good postseason run just like last year.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 31st, 2011
9:39 am

And count me in with the people who agree that Wren has done a good job. I didn’t like him for the first three years he was here, but he has consistently shown a willingness to take risks and the majority of those risks have panned out. Much better to have someone like Wren who makes bold moves and is willing to fail, than someone like Rick Sund who is content to sit on his hands and counts being just north of mediocre as a success.

Innocent Bystander

August 31st, 2011
9:39 am

Too late to trade him and get max value I’m afraid. But we still need to shop him in the offseason. We’ve got too many really good pitchers waiting for the chance to be in the rotation (Teheran, Delgado, Minor) to be spending too much money on guys like JJ who are good but not great.

the truth...

August 31st, 2011
9:42 am

Bottom Line is:

Either these guys don’t have it in their bodies….arms, legs, shoulders, etc.
or they don’t have it in their hearts…..

If their is no fire in their guts to bring it now, then good luck in October. Watching Jair’s starts since the break their is no way he could beat either Milwaukee or Philly now….and Hanson is no better.

If these two don’t wake up arm wise and head wise…..save your money folks cause it won’t be pretty.

NCBravesFan

August 31st, 2011
9:47 am

I agree on Hudson, Beachy for the first two games.

Fish Bisch

August 31st, 2011
9:48 am

I Love Frank Wren

August 31st, 2011
9:48 am

I do believe Derek Lowe was horrible last year… until he became the best pitcher in baseball in September. Completely unhittable.

Jair hasn’t looked good since coming off the DL, but does anyone who actually watches the games remember Jair in the first half of the season?

Not saying either of these guys will return to their dominant form in the next month before the playoffs, but before we start throwing everyone under the bus, let’s take a couple deep breaths and just see how it unfolds.

All these negative people need to relax, maybe drink a cold beer, and try actually watching a few baseball games instead of picking up stats and news the next day and trying to second guess the team that is 9 1/2 games ahead in the wild card!!!!

I Love Frank Wren

August 31st, 2011
9:49 am

Double Zero Eight

August 31st, 2011
9:49 am

This pitching staff would be better under Leo Mazzone.
McDowell is a decent coach, but not as good as Mazzone.
Case closed!

Phillies, Class of The NL

August 31st, 2011
9:53 am

Its time to bury the braves. Prediction: The Phillies win the NL East by 12 games.

Sutton's Fro

August 31st, 2011
9:54 am

Of the so-called “Top-4″ of our rotation (Hudson, Hanson, Jurrjens, Lowe), only Hanson is a strike-out pitcher. All of the others depend upon working the count and inducing groundouts. Given the middling defense behind them, that means a lot of work for our pitching staff. In the 1st half, even when they looked good, the starters worked 6 innings before Fredi went to O’Ventbrel to close out the game. But when he finally realized that he was going to need his bullpen well into October, he began to leave the starters in the game longer.

In other words, the natural tendencies of our pitchers, plus middling defense, plus a tired bullpen adds up to higher ERA’s, more extra-base hits, more panic in Braves Country. After the September 1st call-ups, our key starters will get some much need rest, and our young guns will get some valuable work in to ready themselves for the post-season. And sending out a rotation of Hudson, Jurrjens, and Beachy in the NLDS wouldn’t scare me a bit.

Phillies, Class of The NL

August 31st, 2011
9:54 am

The lowly braves continue to show why they are not yet ready for prime time. Losing to the Nationals in a division race? The braves are truly second-tier. But then again, everyone in the NL is second-tier to The Beasts from The East, The Philadelphia Phillies.

Sutton's Fro

August 31st, 2011
9:55 am

BTW, I meant that last thing as a compliment! (Should’ve said “worry” instead of “scare.”)

Sonny Clusters

August 31st, 2011
9:55 am

We was thinking if they don’t score runs it doesn’t matter who’s pitching. Leaving men on base is a problem for this team that needs to be solved. Alex Gonzales take note. Playing Jason Heyward ahead of Constanza means 2 fewer base runners each 9 innings. As for the pitching, just throw it up there and take your chances. There’s lots of pitching talent here if Fredi will use it. Jettison Linebrink, though. We was glad to contribute to today’s blog.

Marteen is a Ballplayer

August 31st, 2011
9:56 am

As much as I have not enjoyed watching Fredi G. manager this year, I will give him props with going with the best guy at the moment. Georgie received considerable playing time over Heyward. He left Uggla in as he thought that was the only solution, and it certainly was the right call. Perhaps Uggla’s was mental…Heyward is still working on mechanics in his swing.

What I’m trying to say is I believe he will bench Lowe. On top of that, I see no reason he would not go with Hudson and Beachy. I am no where near panic mode yet. Jurrjens stuggled very early this season, after the extended break for the All-Star game, the game after coming off the DL, and after a 7-day rest due to the rainouts in New York. I believe he will be in prime shape by the playoffs. If not, I believe Hanson will be recovered. As long as we have one of the two, we should be able to match up with anyone.

Ted M

August 31st, 2011
9:56 am

1. Hudson 2. Beachy unless someone gets hot.

Michelle Bachmann

August 31st, 2011
9:57 am

Maybe an ‘active God’ will send the Braves’ rotation a message.

PMC

August 31st, 2011
9:58 am

yawn. completely different season. We have no idea what they might be like in a month.

The Braves Rotation whatever it is will match up with Milwaukee’s. They will not match up well with Philly. Philly has purchased more talent. It is what it is.

The Braves are not going to win anything looking at it on paper except for the bullpen, but they have a solid team, and they certainly can win the WS this season.

I Love Frank Wren

August 31st, 2011
9:59 am

PMC

August 31st, 2011
9:59 am

Like every playoff run since 1991, the pitching will be fine. It’s always can they score enough runs that will be in question.

That, and will we finally leave the 3rd catcher off the freaking playoff roster?

Wren Hater

August 31st, 2011
10:08 am

“I Love Frank Wren” = Mrs. Frank Wren’s AJC Blog Name

I Love Frank Wren

August 31st, 2011
10:09 am

Thanks for proving my point

I Love Frank Wren

August 31st, 2011
10:10 am

Watch a baseball game sometime…

Remarkable

August 31st, 2011
10:10 am

For Kendawg and everyone who wants Chipper to go away, he only made 5 errors at third while Prado made 5 in 37 games.(Did you see the play he made last night?) Chipper’s average is 277 vs. Prado’s 267 and Prado’s average is going down every week (MB someone needs to write about Prado going in the wrong direction.) . I vote for Chipper to play in 2012.
Next year, maybe Wren can get a Short Stop, but until then let’s pull for the team that is playing everyday and winning games against the biggest competition.

extremus

August 31st, 2011
10:19 am

If it comes down to it, this is one place where you DO play the “hot hand” and pitch Beachy and/or Minor over anyone else (including Jurrjens and Lowe) who aren’t able to get the job done. A lot of folks tend to forget that Bobby Cox once went with an un-playoff-tested young rookie against Pittsburgh during the 1991 NLCS; his name was Steve Avery. As I recall, that turned out pretty well for the Braves.

[...] Atlanta Braves [...]

mountain_jim

August 31st, 2011
10:21 am

Najeh is right – compared to Sund, Wren is a masterful GM. FIRE SUND!

Space Monkey

August 31st, 2011
10:22 am

Bench JJ and Lowe. Start Delgado and Minor. That’s our best chance of winning. I’m beginning to believe that all those scouts and writers were right about JJ: He got lucky in the first half. He’s horrible. My sweet Lord if we can’t beat the Nats, how can we possibly beat the Brewers and Phils? It’s going to be a quick and painful October. Our bullpen won’t even be able to help us. The games won’t be close enough.

Joey

August 31st, 2011
10:26 am

I’m not Mrs Wren, and I think Frank Wren does more with less (payroll) than ANY GM in MLB. the only teams with more wins have 2 to 3 times the payroll as the Braves.

And remember, Dufus, hindsight is 20/20.

JackDennis

August 31st, 2011
10:27 am

Livan appeared to be throwing BP. But it was really the guy in white.