August 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Update (4:40p): Jack Wilson has been released. It’s not a surprising move, one that was considered a strong possibility when Andrelton Simmons was activated from the disabled list. With this news, it could mean Simmons’ return is sooner rather than later, but there’s still no word on that. It also means a spot on the 40-man roster opened and the count is at 38.
Braves lineup: Michael Bourn (CF), Martin Prado (LF), Jason Heyward (RF), Chipper Jones (3B), Freddie Freeman (1B), Brian McCann (C), Dan Uggla (2B), Paul Janish (SS), Mike Minor (P).
Game 1 vs. Phillies
There was once a time when this was expected to be a big series down the stretch between the two division leaders of the NL East. How things change.
Although the Phillies are playing a little better lately, they’re 62-69. After sweeping the Nationals in surprising fashion, their most recent series was losing two of three to the Mets.
They will send Roy Halladay to the mound in the opener. Halladay has a 3.88 ERA and 3.45 xFIP over 125.1 innings, perhaps finally showing some signs of age in a season that has seen injury and rough outings. His strikeout percentage remains at 20% with a solid 4% walk rate, and he isn’t giving up home runs, but he’s giving up more fly balls and line drives.
Minor continues to pitch well, allowing three runs over 6.2 innings against the Giants last time out, including no walks and five strikeouts. His numbers are continuing their slow return to normalcy, currently sporting a 4.71 ERA and 4.48 xFIP.
Mark Bowman writes on the Braves hoping to avoid another September collapse.
David O’Brien does the same.
Anuj Panday of Tomahawk Take looks at different strike zone plots for hitters in the Braves lineup.
Andrew Sisson of Brave Decisions looks at possible September call-ups for the Braves.
Around the NL East
Stephen Strasburg was told he has two or three more starts left. The Nationals won last night to make it a 5.5-game lead over the Braves.
Jimmy Rollins was benched for not hustling again.
August 30, 2012 at 1:33 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
A Heap of Hanson
Tommy Hanson did this, continuing a career-worst season in which he has a 4.45 ERA and 4.39 xFIP.
A big problem lies in a .382 wOBA against left-handed batters compared to a career .332. While his wOBA against right-handed batters is also up, it’s not nearly the same difference as from the left side. Some numbers:
HR/FB vs. LHB: 16.5%
HR/FB vs. RHB: 7.7
BABIP vs. LHB: .341
BABIP vs. RHB: .290
FIP vs. LHB: 5.35
FIP vs. RHB: 3.72
The increase in BABIP vs. LHB tells that he has had both bad luck and more hard hit balls, and a slight increase in line drive percentage backs this up. The huge difference in FIP shows he’s getting fewer strikeouts and allowing more walks against lefties. But you put those two together, and add in the biggest factor affecting his FIP, a really bad home run rate against lefties, and you get a nasty split.
Hanson allowed just five home runs to left-handed batters in 2010. That’s five in 95.1 innings. He has already allowed 14 in 70.2 innings this year. What happened? His stuff is simply not getting left-handed batters out anymore.
In 2010, Hanson’s slider had a LD/BIP rate of 6% and a FB/BIP rate of 28%. He didn’t allow a single home run on the pitch.
In 2012, his slider’s LD/BIP rate is 13% with a FB/BIP rate of 44%. He has a HR/(LD+FB) rate of 9% on the pitch. His curveball has also seen a dramatic jump in similar form, albeit in a slightly smaller sample.
In no way am I trying to answer Hanson’s problems with just a few batted ball numbers. It’s just a way of showing that Hanson’s stuff isn’t fooling the left-handed side of the plate like it did in his best season, namely the secondary offerings. When people comment that Hanson’s stuff isn’t getting batters out like it used to, it doesn’t have to mean whiff rate, because his swinging strike percentage is maintaining surprising consistency. The problem lies in his inability to avoid hard contact, especially from the left side.
As I wrote on Twitter, I would not oppose calling up Julio Teheran and letting him loose in Hanson’s spot for the next few starts. To simplify it, Teheran couldn’t be any worse, and the potential is there for an upgrade. Teheran has exactly 20 innings remaining to match his career high for a season, so his innings total is in good shape, and I’m sure his arm has benefited from some of his shorter outings. There’s really nothing to lose here. Remember, rosters expand Saturday.
Braves.com recap for Wednesday’s loss.
AJC quotes following Wednesday’s loss.
The Braves announced their Arizona Fall League roster. Zeke Spruill, Edward Salcedo, Nick Ahmed, Matt Kennelly, Gus Schlosser and Cory Rasmus will play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
Ben takes a look at Kris Medlen’s season for FanGraphs.
Jacob Peterson takes a look at Craig Kimbrel’s season for Talking Chop.
Around the NL East
Bryce Harper hit two homers before being ejected in Washington’s win on Wednesday, giving the Nationals a five-game lead again.
Tyler Cloyd pitched well in his major league debut for the Phillies.
The Phillies are considering Chase Utley at third base in the future.
Ozzie Guillen plans to change how he handles player injuries.
The Mets will shut Matt Harvey down before the season ends due to an innings limit.
August 30, 2012 at 12:59 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Eric Stults, 63 game score
Least Valuable Padre: Everth Cabrera, -.045
Most Valuable Brave: Dan Uggla, .069
Least Valuable Brave: Tommy Hanson, 35 game score
4th – (SD) Logan Forsythe RBI double for 1-0 Padres lead, .144
5th – (ATL) Error put two in scoring position with no outs, .159
5th – (ATL) Tommy Hanson struck out with two in scoring position and no outs, -.083
6th – (ATL) Paul Janish infield popout with bases loaded and two outs, -.078
Tommy Hanson suffered from bad defense and bad luck. He also suffered from the lack of a pitch that can get him out of trouble. Hanson threw almost exclusively fastball/slider, and he received four whiffs on the slider, but he also left several up and over the plate. He lacked fastball command, missing a large chunk of his heaters up and arm side. The result was five line drives allowed and a .444 BABIP with just one infield hit.
The Braves offense suffered from leftyitis again, managing one sac fly run off Eric Stults over six innings.
August 29, 2012 at 12:45 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Kris Medlen, 81 game score
Least Valuable Brave: Jason Heyward, -.104
Most Valuable Padre: Andrew Werner, 63 game score
Least Valuable Padre: Carlos Quentin, -.108
1st – (ATL) Chipper Jones RBI double for a 1-0 Braves lead, .117
5th – (ATL) Dan Uggla solo homer for a 2-0 Braves lead, .124
The Padres pretty much never had a shot against Kris Medlen, who pitched eight shutout innings on five hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. Medlen induced nine ground balls, seven fly balls and two line drives while throwing 71 strikes and only 28 balls. He threw 24 changeups, 19 were strikes and he received eight whiffs on the pitch. He had a total of 11 swinging strikes in the start.
With the eight shutout innings, Medlen’s scoreless streak increased to 28.1 innings.
Dan Uggla hit a home run as one of the two Braves runs and also struck out three times. Chipper Jones had the other extra base hit for Atlanta, which also drove in the other run. Martin Prado and Reed Johnson each had two singles.
And Craig Kimbrel is still really good.
August 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
As some of you may know, Mac Thomason, one of the original internet baseball bloggers, has been dealing with cancer for some time. Mac’s work can be found at Braves Journal, if you had never read it before. It is very unfortunate that I only have bad news to bring, as according to his blog, Mac is being moved to hospice.
Without Mac, I doubt this blog ever exists. I believe Peter would attest to this. I speak for all of CAC, and I imagine for the entire Braves blogosphere when I say this:
Thank you Mac Thomason, for everything.
August 28, 2012 at 12:59 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Yasmani Grandal, .206
Casey Kelly, 68 game score
Least Valuable Padre: Chase Headley, -.049
Most Valuable Brave: Paul Maholm, 54 game score
Least Valuable Brave: Brian McCann, -.099
2nd – (SD) Yasmani Grandal two-run homer for a 2-0 Padres lead, .195
Casey Kelly’s final line was very impressive for a major league debut, pitching six shutout innings on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts. It wasn’t as dominating as the line indicates, as he induced six ground balls, five fly balls and four line drives, and benefited from a .200 BABIP, but it was a great outing for Kelly.
Paul Maholm was also hit a little bit, giving up five line drives while allowing eight hits in 6.2 innings. But he again held his strikeout rate well while getting double-digit ground balls and limiting walks.
The Braves offense had a .174 BABIP while producing a 26% line drive rate for the game, which should tell you they ran into some loud outs. Jason Heyward’s double was the only extra base hit for the team.
August 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves, Minor Leagues
First off, if you haven’t read Ethan’s scouting notes on Braves 2012 second-rounder Alex Wood, do so. He goes much more in depth with the mechanics than I can, especially body-wise, while my focus is more on arm action and stuff.
While I don’t have video as proof, I can confirm Wood didn’t hop a single time in his outing in Savannah. If they addressed this over the past few weeks, this is great news for Wood’s mechanics. I felt the hop prevented Wood from finishing his motion, essentially cutting himself short. But when I saw him, he had a much smoother finish than during his time at Georgia. This should help his command.
Perhaps the one fault I saw in Wood was his arm action. He stabs the ball behind his body Ubaldo Jimenez style, and he also has the rock back before coming forward, like Ubaldo. The reason I’m not a fan of this, aside from the added stress it puts on the arm, is the added mileage the arm travels could cause lapses in command.
However, based on the video and reports I read when Wood was in college, I was bracing myself for a circus act on the mound. It just wasn’t there. Wood’s mechanics are certainly different, but they aren’t so out of the ordinary that anyone can say they will hinder his future as a professional pitcher.
Fastball: Wood commanded his fastball well. It has above average movement boring in on left-handers, and while he spotted it well arm side, he struggled to hit the glove side with consistency, as Ethan noted in his report. Also, his arm will lag from time to time, causing the pitch to be left up and flat. However, overall, I was very pleased with how he commanded such an exciting pitch. I wasn’t able to catch a radar reading, so I can’t say what the velocity was, but it’s been reported in the low-to-mid-90s.
Changeup: Wood’s changeup is a gorgeous pitch when it’s working. I saw two strikeouts to right-handers on the pitch, both framed perfectly on the outer half, both plus. He also threw several more plus changeups, and it was clearly the best offering of his three. If it isn’t a plus pitch already, it will be. I’m confident in that.
Breaking ball: I don’t know what Wood calls his breaking pitch, whether it’s a slider or curveball, and it doesn’t really matter to me. It was the pitch I paid the most attention to, because it was the one scouts said needed the most work. While there were times where he didn’t have a feel for it, especially early, I came away impressed with the pitch. It showed good, late snap, and he made left-handed batters look silly on a couple occasions.
Wood needs to find more consistency with the breaking ball before I say it’s above average, but based on the movement, I think it has the potential to get there. More than anything, I was impressed with the way it got better as the game went on. By the time he reached the fourth and fifth innings, it showed better location and movement. In his fifth and final inning, I saw four above average breaking pitches, including one he buried on the feet of a right-hander for a strikeout. The breaking pitch had better location glove side, while his attempts to spot it arm side resulted mostly in flat offerings.
Obviously, Wood is going to require some smoothing out. He came in with strange mechanics from Georgia, but it appears he has come a long way already, including a smoother finish. He still struggles with command, but it comes with time. I’m not prepared to say Wood has three above average pitches now, but he certainly has the potential, including a plus changeup. As I said on Twitter, I haven’t had that much fun watching a pitching prospect in a long time, and Wood really vaulted himself up in my book. You’ll be hearing about him in the upper levels soon.