September 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
The Draftstreet freeroll offer is back. It’s a $150 prize pool and 10 places paid, and it’s for the games this Friday (9/21). Follow this link to play.
Game 1 vs. Phillies
Coming off a series win over the Marlins, the Braves had Thursday off before visiting Philadelphia for three games this weekend.
The starters in Friday’s game are Kyle Kendrick and Tommy Hanson. Kendrick has been a bit of a rollercoaster in the rotation lately, allowing six runs to the Braves the last time the two met, then throwing consecutive shutouts, maintaining consistency for a few starts, and allowing four runs in five innings to the Astros last time out.
Through all of that, he owns a 3.95 ERA and 4.27 FIP in 143.2 innings, including a 17.3% strikeout and 7.4% walk rate. His strikeout totals and swinging strike rate (8.7%) are well above his career averages, and he has benefited in several of his starts over the past month or two. The key difference seems to be an increase in changeup effectiveness. Last season, his changeup had a whiff/swing rate of 20%, while so far this year it’s 39%. He’s also throwing it far more than in the past at 21.8%.
However, if the last week – and most of this season – is any indication, the Braves offense has done a great job of pinpointing a pitcher’s strong or weak spot and either spitting on it or taking advantage of it. They did so with Gio Gonzalez’s control issues, staying patient and making him throw strikes. They did so against Josh Johnson, pinpointing his slider and hitting around it. If the plan continues, look for the Braves to hit around Kendrick’s changeup and take advantage of a lack of breaking ball and a fastball that can get homer-prone at times.
The Braves are hoping to get another good five-plus innings out of Hanson to turn it over to a fresher bullpen after the day off. Hanson allowed four runs – two earned – over five innings against the Nationals last time out, but he only walked one and struck out seven. The outing tied for the fourth-best K/9 game of his season and showed a bit of the Hanson of old in getting fly balls and strikeouts.
Mark Bowman writes on the emergence of Jason Heyward this season.
David O’Brien writes on the struggles of Michael Bourn and getting him going for the playoffs.
Jayson Stark writes that Craig Kimbrel deserves Cy Young consideration.
Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes on Kris Medlen’s awesomeness.
Grant Brisbee of SB Nation writes on Kris Medlen’s awesomeness.
Around the NL East
Bob Nightengale reports the Marlins will fire Larry Beinfest and possibly Michael Hill, the two names running the circus in Miami. Assistant GM Dan Jennings will take over as general manager and vice president/baseball operations. You could see this one coming.
Tom Tango gives his opinion on the potential move to third base for Chase Utley. The name Jason Heyward came to mind when I read this part, although defensive ability is the main factor in that case: “Except you have to appreciate that the long-term solution player needs to be at SS (or CF). This is why Mike Cameron moved to RF when Beltran came, because Beltran was the long-term solution. Putting Beltran at RF and only moving him back to CF might cost the Mets long-term, because there is still a “familiarity” factor to account for. That’s why you want to keep your long-term players stuck at one position if you can.”
Eric Seidman of FanGraphs takes a look at the Utley move, too.