April 26, 2012 at 11:33 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Insert Clever Beachy Headline Here
Brandon Beachy has the third-best ERA in baseball so far at 1.05, while having a 3.60 xFIP. Beachy alluded to more contact pitching this year, and the numbers indicate this so far. His K% is down to 19.6% while his swinging strike percentage is down to 7.6%, both considerable drops from last season. And a .230 BABIP is helping the very low ERA. However, Beachy is also showing the ability to use this to his advantage.
Beachy started 25 games last season, and only in three of those did he reach the seventh inning. He allowed the most baserunners in the sixth inning, including the most walks (along with the fourth inning). His pitch counts were a concern as he racked up high strikeout numbers and pitched more for the punch out than the out in any case. I’m not saying this is wrong, because a strikeout is the ultimate pitcher’s out, but I’m sure it helped lead to Beachy’s shorter starts.
So far this year, Beachy has reached the seventh inning in three of his four starts. His opponents’ numbers in the sixth inning are 1-11 with a walk. He’s entering his later innings fresher and with fewer pitches thrown.
Sure, Beachy will regress some. It’s rather difficult to maintain a 1.05 ERA. But the way he’s pitching right now indicates he shouldn’t fall far. He’s holding line drives to a rate of 16.2% while increasing his ground ball rate to 47.3%. His outside swing percentage has dropped, but his outside contact percentage is risen even more, from 58.8% to 75%. This is a sign of weak contact, which is exactly what Beachy needs to succeed with fewer strikeouts.
Update (3:50p): Mark Bowman writes on the success of the starters so far.
Update (3:50p): Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com features Beachy.
A Happy Ride Home
The Braves defeated the Dodgers 4-2 on Wednesday, earning the series win in Los Angeles and wrapping up a 5-2 road trip against two solid NL West teams. The Braves won both of their games against the Dodgers on go-ahead hits in the ninth inning while receiving two more good performances from Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy.
The Braves have the day off today before hosting the Pirates for four games this weekend. Pittsburgh has perhaps the worst offense in baseball to this point, recording a team wOBA of .262 with an isolated power mark of .104 and a 5.3 BB%. Compare that to the current Braves numbers: .328 wOBA, .161 ISO, 8.4 BB%.
John Sickels profiles former Braves prospect J.J. Hoover.
Eric Karabell has a mention of Julio Teheran in his latest bits.
Dan Szymborski for ESPN lists the 11 worst trades in MLB history. The Mark Teixeira trade comes in at No. 2, while the Len Barker deal is No. 10 (Insider required).
R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus includes the Jair Jurrjens demotion in his latest transaction analysis.
AJC quotes following Wednesday’s win.
New (2:20p): Keith Law held a chat, and one of the first questions was regarding Evan Gattis. Law states it bluntly: “He’s not a prospect. He’s beating up on much younger, less physically developed competition, and offers no defensive value at a corner position.” (h/t Russell Brown)
New (3:00p): Ben makes the case for adding Mike Minor in fantasy leagues. It’s good advice. I grabbed him up in my draft.
New (5:30p): Baseball America profiles Braves pitching prospect Chris Masters (sub. required).
Around the NL East
Ken Rosenthal writes on the Marlins’ struggles, especially the middle of the order with Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison.
New (2:30p): Rob Neyer writes on the Nationals pitching staff putting up insane numbers.
New (5:30p): Mike Pelfrey will likely need Tommy John surgery.
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Check back throughout the day for the latest news and discussion updated on this post.