September 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Mike Minor, 59 game score
Least Valuable Brave: David Ross, -.099
Most Valuable National: Ian Desmond, .083
Least Valuable National: Danny Espinosa, -.159
3rd – (ATL) Chipper Jones RBI single for a 1-0 Braves lead, .114
4th – (WAS) Danny Espinosa grounded into inning-ending double play with two on, -.102
6th – (WAS) Ian Desmond RBI single to come within 2-1 Braves lead, .102
The biggest success from this game was the patience shown by the Braves against Gio Gonzalez. The left-hander struggled with control, and it should be the game plan to be patient against a pitcher with a career 10% walk rate, no matter his success this season. Gonzalez threw 110 pitches over just five completed innings, including two at-bats in the sixth. He walked four and struck out five.
Mike Minor was again solid, allowing one run over six innings. He gave up a few line drives, but for the most part kept the ball on the ground or induced weak contact in the air. He had just three strikeouts, but he threw strikes and was more efficient than his past couple outings.
Sweeping the Nationals is always fun, and in no way should they be conceding the division, so it’s good to see them fighting back. Even so, it’s also good to see them further solidifying the first wild card spot.
September 16, 2012 at 3:14 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game 3 vs. Nationals
The Braves won 5-4 on Saturday as Andrelton Simmons was hit by a pitch to bring home the go-ahead run in the eighth. It’s just the latest example of the Braves finding new ways to win.
The Braves will go for a series sweep against the Nationals tonight after going 5-10 against them coming into today. Mike Minor is on the mound for Atlanta, sporting a 4.42 ERA and 4.54 FIP in 161 innings. He pitched 5.2 shutout innings on two hits with eight strikeouts against the Brewers last time out, increasing his K% to 19.9%.
Gio Gonzalez will go for the Nationals, recording a 2.93 ERA and 2.84 FIP with a 25.6% strikeout rate, including a career-best 9.1% walk rate. Gonzalez is fourth in baseball in fWAR at 4.9, including the second-best FIP in MLB behind teammate Stephen Strasburg.
Braves.com recap for Saturday’s win.
AJC quotes following Saturday’s win. Fredi Gonzalez: “It’s important because our eyes are still on trying to get the division because the wild card is so hard and so difficult with the one-game playoff. But at the very least if we don’t catch them because they’ve got a good club you could hang your hat, and say, we may meet them after the first round, the play-in playoff game. if it ends right now, we’d play them. and it’s always good to play good with your opponent the last time you’ve seen them.”
Brian McCann is day to day with a right hamstring strain. He is expected back Monday or Tuesday.
Another example of how good Craig Kimbrel is.
Carroll Rogers with some facts on Kris Medlen’s strikeout numbers.
Another September collapse story, this time from Buster Olney in his latest Insider post.
Eno Sarris of FanGraphs writes on the Braves’ arms having the ability to beat the Nationals (for ESPN Insider).
September 16, 2012 at 2:00 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Jason Heyward, .170
Least Valuable Brave: Michael Bourn, -.068
Most Valuable National: Eury Perez, .162
Least Valuable National: Steve Lomardozzi, -.197
1st – (WAS) Adam LaRoche two-run homer for a 2-0 Nationals lead, .200
2nd – (WAS) Error scored two runs for a 4-0 Nationals lead, .128
6th – (ATL) Jason Heyward two-run homer for a 4-4 tie, .290
8th – (ATL) Chipper Jones walk to load the bases with one out, .112
8th – (ATL) Andrelton Simmons hit by pitch to bring home a run for a 5-4 Braves lead, .156
9th – (WAS) Eury Perez stole second and advanced to third on an error, .162
9th – (WAS) Steve Lomardozzi struck out with the tying run on third and one out, -.198
9th – (WAS) Tyler Moore struck out to end the game, -.117
The 2012 Braves: Finding new ways to win every day.
September 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm by Ethan Purser under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Prospects
With the end of the 2012 minor league season officially upon us, let’s take a look at how the Braves’ 2012 draftees fared in their first taste of professional baseball in a John Sickels-style draft update. This post will be focused on the picks from the first two days of the draft, encompassing rounds 1 through 15. Please keep in mind that the numbers presented here are from an extremely small sample.
1. Lucas Sims, RHP: 3.71 ERA with 39/13 K/BB in 34 innings pitched between the GCL and the Appalachian League. Mixed in some good and bad starts while at Danville, compiling a 4.33 ERA with 29/12 K/BB in 27 innings pitched. The prep pitcher from Snellville, GA, showed legitimate swing-and-miss stuff as a young 18-year-old who spent a majority of his time facing much older competition in the Appalachian League. This kid is going to be fun to watch. Sims was ranked 5th on our midseason prospect list.
2. Alex Wood, LHP: Went straight to Rome from UGA and impressed. 2.22 ERA with 52/14 K/BB in 52.2 innings pitched. Kept the ball on the ground, compiling a 2.09 GO/AO. David and I have talked about this kid at length; needless to say, we really like him. Hard-throwing college lefties with two legitimate secondaries at their disposal are fun. Depending on instructs/spring training, the Braves may be tempted to skip him a level and send him to Mississippi to start next season a la Mike Minor, Sean Gilmartin, etc. Wood was ranked 10th on our midseason prospect list.
3. Bryan De La Rosa, C: .162/.194/.221 with 2/30 BB/K in 73 plate appearances in the GCL. Threw out 30 percent of runners, but passed ball and error rates look atrocious. Not an impressive debut for the undersized Florida high school product, but he’ll take plenty of time to develop and will need patience. It may take a while, but this kid is going to hit. He was ranked 25th on our midseason prospect list.
4. Justin Black, OF: .182/.292/.258 with a couple of home runs and a 19/54 BB/K in 157 plate appearances in his debut in the GCL. Showed a good eye at the plate but also showed a propensity to swing and miss quite frequently. Stole 3 bags in 7 attempts. This Montana prepster is very unrefined in every aspect of his game, but has serious five-tool potential and will require extreme patience. He’s a bit older than your normal first-year player out of high school. Black was ranked 24th on our midseason prospect list.
5. Blake Brown, OF: .201/.313/.313 with four home runs and 25/72 BB/K in 210 plate appearances for Danville. He’s played both center field and right field but profiles better at the latter position as he moves up. Stole 10 bags in 14 attempts. This super-toolsy college draftee—somewhat of a rare breed this day and age—has some of the most serious physical tools in the system, but will he ever hit enough to showcase his massive raw power? This guy is my favorite of the lot, for some reason. Previously drafted by the Pirates in 2009.
6. Josh Elander, C: .260/.366/.439 with four homers and a stellar 16/19 BB/K in 145 plate appearances at Danville. Polish at the plate wasn’t the problem coming into the draft; defense was the biggest knock on him, considering his limited appearances at catcher as an amateur. Threw out 29 percent of opposing base stealers and committed four errors and allowed four passed balls in 181 chances. Raw power translated into some power production this season at TCU and at Danville. This college draftee showed some nice tools/skills at the plate, but questions linger about his ultimate defensive home. Elander was the starting catcher for USA Baseball’s college national team in 2011. Previously drafted by the Nationals in 2009.
7. David Starn, LHP: 5.50 ERA with 28/20 K/BB in 34.1 innings pitched in Rome; senior sign out of Kent State. Missed a couple of starts after signing due to shoulder fatigue. Labeled as a command/control guy out of college, Starn did not live up to this reputation in his debut, although the aforementioned injury may have affected his performance. Fastball ranged from 84-87 when I saw him, so he will need to cut down on the walks in order to survive as he climbs the ladder.
8. David Peterson, RHP: 1.93 ERA with 23/11 K/BB in 28 innings pitched in Rome; senior sign from College of Charleston. Kept the ball on the ground in his debut, posting a 2.88 GO/AO. Big kid—6’5”, 205 pounds, and looks every bit of it. Moved to the bullpen in his senior season and continued to pitch well in this role upon joining the Braves. Looked good in person—sat low-90s, touched 95 with a nice downhill plane and flashed a solid-average breaking ball, although control of both pitches was inconsistent. The college righty had a solid debut and is a back-end-of-the-bullpen sleeper. Previously drafted by the Reds in 2008 and the Astros in 2011.
9. Steven Schils, RHP: If you’re looking for that guy who came in and totally sucked in pro ball . . . look no further! In three appearances for Danville, Schils amassed one inning pitched, allowing seven earned runs (!) on one hit and nine walks. NINE WALKS. Schils did not pitch after July 19th and according to his twitter, he underwent some type of surgery in mid-August (unless he’s speaking of the extreme citrus soda manufactured by the Coca-Cola Company from 1997 to 2003, in which case he needs to know that the drink has been discontinued for nearly ten years and can’t be genuinely defined as a “success”). Needless to say, pro ball hasn’t welcomed Schils with open arms. A quick scan of his college statistics at High Point University and Florida Tech yields more troubling results: 34.1 innings pitched, 20/32 K/BB, and 51 hits allowed in three seasons. The Braves did their homework on this kid, going so far as to invite him to a pre-draft workout. Scouting is obviously more than looking at a player’s amateur numbers, and they must believe there’s something in his arm. Whatever that is, it hasn’t shown up in any results as of yet.
10. Mike Dodig, 3B: .174/.224/.273 with 8/37 BB/K in 143 plate appearances in the GCL. Became the highest drafted player out of Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, New York, and became the first player to be drafted from Columbia-Greene since 1997. Big kid—listed at 6’4”, 210 lbs. Showed some power, as eight of his 23 hits went for extra bases. Played exclusively at third base, committing 14 errors in 86 chances. Fairly young—he was drafted as a freshman—so patience is needed.
11. Levi Borders, C: Did not sign. Levi, son of Pat, will be taking his talents to . . . err . . . South Florida.
12. Connor Lien, OF: .228/.352/.282 with 19/49 BB/K in 180 plate appearances in the GCL. Spent time at all three OF spots this season, but probably profiles best in RF long-term. Showed polish at the plate and on the basepaths, collecting 19 walks and 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts. This 18-year-old received third-round money out of Olympia High School in Windermere, Florida. Big kid—6’3”, 205 lbs.—with big tools. Can run presently and has a cannon for an arm. One can easily project him to develop power down the road due to his large frame and present bat speed. Tough profile, as he will more than likely evolve into a right/right corner guy. Regardless, Lien has a high ceiling and bears close attention in the coming seasons.
13. Nathan Hyatt, RHP: 1.46 ERA with 37/8 K/BB in 24.2 innings pitched between Danville and Rome. The six-foot, 185-pound college draftee was the closer at Appalachian State this past season and was used primarily in this role during his pro debut with great results. Showed great control in his debut, walking only eight batters in 24.2 innings. These results are interesting, as he walked 24 batters in 27.1 innings this season at Appalachian State before being drafted. Hyatt can throw hard and has developing secondaries. Say it with me . . . yet another bullpen option!
14. Tyler Tewell, C: .308/.319/.495 with three home runs and 3/16 BB/K in 113 plate appearances between the GCL and Danville. Not a huge physical specimen—5’11”, 185 lbs. Caught and played outfield at Appalachian State, but was primarily stationed at catcher upon turning pro. Threw out 38 percent of runners with decent passed ball/error rates. Two carrying tools seem to be his raw arm strength and raw power from the left side. Played in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League in the summer of 2011, hitting very well and garnering a fair amount of attention from scouts. This college bat didn’t show a ton of patience at the plate in his debut, but showed he can hit and play behind the plate. One to watch in full-season ball in 2013.
15. Alex Wilson, RHP: 2.73 ERA with 28/5 K/BB in 26.1 innings pitched for Danville. Used exclusively in relief and even closed a few games. Signed as a junior out of Wofford College where he blossomed after two atrocious seasons in 2010 and 2011. After the draft, Wilson said that he received below-slot offers from the Rays and Phillies a few rounds before the Braves nabbed him. Wilson’s a 6’5”, 220-pound beast of a man with a 60-grade full name (Alexander Tate Wilson). This grade has nothing to do with my strange fascination with Tate Donovan and/or Donavan Tate. Good debut, another potential bullpen option.
September 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game 2 vs. Nationals
The Braves won 2-1 on Friday behind Kris Medlen’s 13 strikeouts and 19 whiffs over seven innings.
As much as we’d all like four more Kris Medlens, we have to work with Tommy Hanson in tonight’s game. As I’ve said before, at this point, you live with what Hanson can give you that’s even the slightest positive, and he has done so in his past two outings. He has allowed two runs in 5.2 innings in each of the past two, combining on 13 strikeouts and three walks.
While Medlen gave up his lone run to a left-handed batter despite the reverse split (showing anything can happen in one PA), Hanson has a hard split that does not favor him against left-handed batters. Again, keeping Harper and Adam LaRoche low and away should be the plan. Hanson has solid numbers for his career when he keeps the slider low and away to LHB, but that hasn’t been as successful this season, likely due to a lack of bite on the pitch. It remains to be seen whether he will stick to what he knows there.
Edwin Jackson will start for the Nationals as the lone righty for Washington in the series. Jackson has a 3.85 ERA and 3.76 FIP over 168.1 innings, including a 21.3% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate. His numbers seem to be in line with how he should perform going forward, including a slight increase in home runs behind an 11.1% HR/FB.
Even so, Jackson has the highest swinging strike rate of his career so far at 12.2%, due in large part to a 50% whiff/swing rate on his slider. That includes a 51% mark against right-handed batters. On the other hand, he tones it down against left-handed batters and throws more changeups, recording a 24% whiff/swing rate on that pitch. And yet, he still maintains a 47% mark on the slider. So basically, Edwin Jackson’s slider is filthy, if you didn’t already know.
Kris Medlen’s Game Scores
In case you needed a reminder:
75, 57, 87, 81, 69, 83, 65, 58, 57.
In a 100-inning minimum, Medlen has the lowest FIP in baseball at 2.34. That includes the lowest HR/9 at 0.31 and lowest HR/FB at 4.5%.
His 3.4 fWAR in 117 innings is tied with Ryan Dempster at 154.1 innings, ahead of Kyle Lohse at 192 innings and ahead of Jordan Zimmermann at 176.2 innings, among others.
Braves.com recap for Friday’s win.
AJC quotes following Friday’s win. Kris Medlen: “My two-seamer felt great tonight. Ones to the lefties really came back for me. Even the couple of them I threw to righties kind of froze them. I don’t know, just one of those nights where everything kind of felt like it was working for me.”
Braves.com notes on the decision to rest Michael Bourn on Friday.
Andrew Gibson of Baseball Info Solutions gives the top defensive rookies of 2012 for ESPN Insider. He includes Andrelton Simmons, including this: “While Simmons’ primary defensive replacement, Paul Janish, played very well in his absence, it’s easy to wonder what kind of eye-popping numbers Simmons could have put up if he had stayed healthy this summer.”
Matt Snyder of the CBS Sports MLB blog includes the success of Braves pitchers in his latest Lineup.
Around the NL East
Roger Bernadina is fine after crashing into the wall to catch a ball last night.
And Ozzie Guillen did this.
September 15, 2012 at 9:40 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
Here are stats that Kimbrel leads over every other pitcher in MLB history, minimum 150 innings pitched:
ERA: 1.54, next highest 1.82
ERA-: 40, next highest 49
Strikeout rate: 45.3%, next highest 33.2%
Strikeouts per nine innings: 15.87, next highest 12.34
FIP: 1.29, next highest 1.92
FIP-: 34, next highest 60
September 15, 2012 at 2:29 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game MVP: Kris Medlen, 75 game score
Least Valuable Brave: Chipper Jones, -.099
Most Valuable National: Bryce Harper, .191
Least Valuable National: Ian Desmond
6th – (WAS) Bryce Harper solo homer for a 1-1 tie, .186
9th – (ATL) Michael Bourn single to put runners on the corners with one out, .195
9th – (ATL) Andrelton Simmons scored the winning run on an Ian Desmond error, .185
Kris Medlen was again otherworldly, recording 19 whiffs and 13 strikeouts, a new career high. He had eight called strikeouts, the most in a game by a player this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. He induced just two line drives compared to seven ground balls, throwing 66 strikes over 96 pitches.
And despite allowing just one run with 13 strikeouts in seven innings, his game score of 75 is still just his fourth-best mark in nine starts this season.