August 19, 2012 at 9:15 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Braves lineup: Michael Bourn (CF), Martin Prado (LF), Jason Heyward (RF), Freddie Freeman (1B), Dan Uggla (2B), Juan Francisco (3B), Brian McCann (C), Paul Janish (SS), Mike Minor (P).
Dodgers lineup: Shane Victorino (S, LF), Mark Ellis (R, 2B), Matt Kemp (R, CF), Hanley Ramirez (R, SS), Andre Ethier (L, RF), Juan Rivera (R, 1B), Luiz Cruz (R, 3B), A.J. Ellis (R, C), Chad Billingsley (R, P).
Game 3 vs. Dodgers
The Braves dropped the second game of the Dodgers series 6-2 as Hanley Ramirez hit two homers and Ben Sheets gave up four in total.
The rubber game will feature Chad Billingsley and Mike Minor. Billingsley is having another solid season with a 3.62 ERA and 3.72 xFIP over 139.1 innings. His 20.8% strikeout rate is exactly his career average at this point, while he is recording the lowest walk rate of his career so far at 6.8%.
Billingsley continues to rely heavily on three different fastballs: four-seamer, cutter and sinker. The pitches range from 87-91 and get different results. His sinking fastball has a GB/BIP rate of 53%, while his cutter has a whiff/swing rate of 20%, and his four-seamer minimizes hard contact with a LD/BIP rate of 15% and whiff/swing rate of 18%. Billingsley also throws a breaking pitch around 75-77 that has earned a whiff/swing rate in the range of 35-45%. He will also throw a changeup to keep hitters honest.
Minor’s most recent outing was another solid start, allowing three runs over six innings against the Padres. Despite the Dodgers hitting four home runs Saturday, they came in with the lowest number of long balls in the majors, as well as the lowest HR/FB rate. Expecting anything like last night to repeat wouldn’t make sense. In any case, it’s worth keeping an eye on how his changeup fares against hitters such as Ramirez and Matt Kemp. Minor’s changeup has resulted in the highest HR/FB+LD rate among his pitches at 18%.
Worth noting: Chipper Jones is expected to sit out Sunday’s series finale, while Brian McCann is expected back in the lineup.
Braves.com recap for Saturday’s loss.
AJC quotes following Saturday’s loss. Ben Sheets: “It wasn’t really weird. The solo homers, I can pitch around. They hit three tonight, you don’t see many people go back-to-back-to-back. So I can deal with those. But the two walks with two outs in the sixth inning … it pisses me off, to be nice about it.”
Brian McCann wasn’t pleased that he sat Saturday’s game out. Fredi Gonzalez made it known the decision to sit McCann wasn’t about his shoulder, but instead his struggles lately. McCann also didn’t agree with the Braves’ diagnosis of a right shoulder subluxation. He said an MRI performed a couple months showed it was a cyst and frayed labrum. Going off the Braves training staff’s track record, I might have to side with McCann.
Also on the same link, Andrelton Simmons still hasn’t started baseball activities, and the target date has been pushed back to mid-September.
Chris Jaffe tells the story of Pascual Perez missing the exit to Fulton County Stadium three times, and driving around I-285 three times, missing his start for the Braves that night. Today is the 30th anniversary of that occasion, and I can’t help but laugh every time I hear it.
Lee Trocisnki of Tomahawk Take profiles Sheets and looks at his numbers so far and how his pitches are holding up.
Around the NL East
Nationals recap for Saturday’s loss.
The Mets likely won’t have much to spend this winter or next year – possibly in the range of $10-15 million. It looks like they will have to rely on a farm system that is still being rebuilt.
Giancarlo Stanton became the first player in major league history to homer in his first six games at a visiting park, homering again at Coors Field last night.