July 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Update (4:20p): Medlen to Start
The Braves are giving Kris Medlen a shot at starting, replacing Jair Jurrjens in the rotation and giving him his first start Tuesday. Jurrjens will move to the bullpen.
The ramifications of this move are yet to be determined regarding how this will improve the rotation and whether they aren’t finding what they hoped in the trade market, so it’s not appropriate to assume how the front office’s dealings are going yet. It would be tough if this is the rotation upgrade, but there’s still plenty of time.
Game 2 vs. Phillies
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).
Phillies lineup: Jimmy Rollins (S, SS), Shane Victorino (S, CF), Chase Utley (L, 2B), Ryan Howard (L, 1B), Hunter Pence (R, RF), Ty Wigginton (R, 3B), John Mayberry (R, LF), Erik Kratz (R, C), Joe Blanton (R, P).
The Braves took advantage of another strong outing by Ben Sheets and another home run from Brian McCann against the Phillies to beat Philadelphia 6-1 on Friday. The Braves stopped the Phillies in their tracks after an exciting series sweep of the Brewers in their most recent set.
The Braves will go for four straight as they host the Phillies in the second game of the series. Mike Minor faces Joe Blanton. Blanton continues to record very good peripherals, sporting a 20.3% strikeout rate and 3.2% walk rate, which have remained pretty stable this season. They are almost the same as the last time the Braves saw him, which resulted in six runs allowed in 6.1 innings earlier this month in one of his worst starts of the season. Blanton has gone eight innings in each of the past two starts since.
Minor seems to have turned a corner in his past three starts, allowing a total of six runs in 19.1 innings with just four walks and 17 strikeouts. He missed the Phillies in early July and has yet to face them this season.
More Pitching Possibilities
As you all know, Zack Greinke was traded to the Angels for three highly ranked prospects in the Los Angeles system. Comparing to the Braves, it could have taken Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, plus one more top 10 guy to pull him in. If the Braves knew they couldn’t work an extension, it’s simply not worth it.
Frank Wren continues the search for an arm, however. Mark Bowman notes Edinson Volquez, James Shields and Wade Davis as possibilities, with the outside chance of Josh Johnson, although Johnson’s chances in Atlanta should be slim to none. Volquez was recently mentioned on Twitter as staying in San Diego, as the Padres couldn’t find an offer they liked and apparently wanted much more than he was worth (same boat as Chase Headley, probably).
Shields will cost plenty, to the point where the Rays may try to squeeze out more than he’s worth, especially with options of $9 million and $12 million over the next two years. He has a 4.52 ERA, but his xFIP is in line with his norms at 3.47. He’s getting ground balls at a career-high rate of over 50% while maintaining a strikeout rate above 20%, but his walks have increased to 7.2%. It’s hard to believe Shields will ever be the pitcher he was in 2011 again, but that’s nothing against him. He remains a good No. 2 on playoff staffs.
Grabbing Davis and putting him back in the rotation seems OK on the surface because of a 2.70 ERA in 46.1 relief innings this season, but despite Davis not exactly loving what he’s doing right now, he’s thriving at it and probably belongs in the bullpen. His relief arsenal is fastball/curveball, while his starting arsenal is fastball/curveball/slider/changeup. His ability to attack the zone with the fastball/curveball has led to a big spike in strikeout percentage to 27.1% after years of 15.7% and 13.2% as a starter. Adding Davis could still solidify the bullpen, and considering the Braves haven’t ruled out putting Kris Medlen back in the rotation, Davis could fill Medlen’s spot.
Buster Olney adds more to the Shields talk (Insider required).
Braves Sign Batista
The Braves signed Miguel Batista to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Gwinnett. Batista was designated for assignment by the Mets on Sunday and released on Thursday before the Braves picked him up yesterday. He had a 4.82 ERA and 5.09 xFIP in 46.2 innings this season, including five starts. He has always had high walk rates and never could match it with high strikeout rates, posting career marks of 14.5 K% and 10.4 BB%. His walk rate this year is 14.1%. He gives the Braves depth in the minors, but let’s hope they never have to use him in Atlanta, and if so, in mop up duty.
Braves.com recap for Friday’s win.
AJC quotes following Friday’s win. Fredi Gonzalez on Ben Sheets: “I think the best thing I’ve ever seen anybody do in a longtime, Huddy does it, is he reads the bat. He knows what these guys are looking for and he’ll make adjustments to that. He’ll change, which is something that’s learned. It’s an experience thing. And then he’s commanding his fastball.”
It was reported on Twitter yesterday that Peter Moylan, after being assigned to Triple-A, was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis. Gwinnett’s roster confirms this.