September 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Game 1 vs. Mets
The final home series of the regular season begins after the Braves swept the Marlins to finish their season series at 14-4 Atlanta. The Braves enter the Mets series at 10-5 against New York this season.
Jon Niese will pitch against Tim Hudson in the series opener. Niese has a 3.49 ERA and 3.76 FIP on the season, including a 20% strikeout rate and 6.1% walk rate in 183.1 innings. As I’ve written before, Niese has taken a step up this season at 25 years old, already throwing a career high in innings while setting a career best in ERA. He’s allowing a little more than one home run per nine, causing a slight increase in FIP from a year ago, but he’s maintaining good strikeout numbers while keeping his walk rate respectable.
Niese gave up one run over six innings in his last outing against the Braves on Sept. 7. He also faced them Aug. 12, allowing one run over eight innings. The Braves have some work to do if they want to keep their winning streak alive.
Hudson rebounded from consecutive poor starts to throw 7.1 solid innings against the Phillies last time out, allowing a lone unearned run on two hits. His ground ball rate remained low in the game, but he showed better command and didn’t let home runs beat him.
Today is Chipper Jones Appreciation Day, as the Braves will honor Chipper prior to the game in what is his last regular season home series.
Double Totals and Prado
Martin Prado reached 40 doubles on Thursday, making him the first Braves hitter to reach the mark since he did it himself in 2010. Going back 10 years, Brian McCann had 42 doubles in 2008, Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur each reached 40 in 2007, Edgar Renteria had 40 in 2006, and Marcus Giles had 45 in 2005 and 49 in 2003.
While Prado may not reach his home run total from last season, he has seen an increase in doubles from 26 to 40, bumping his ISO from .125 to .136. However, comparing to his better 2009 and 2010 seasons, his ISO in 2012 isn’t quite as high, as he posted .150s those previous two seasons.
One of the best parts of Prado’s 2012 season is the increase in walks to 8.2%, raising his on-base numbers and providing more value in that way. His power may have seen a slight drop off from his previous two best years, but he’s getting on base and providing sound defense across the field, upping his fWAR to a career-high 5.5.
Braves.com recap for Thursday’s win.
AJC quotes following Thursday’s win. Fredi Gonzalez on Tommy Hanson: “He did OK. He kept us in the ballgame. He kind of scattered the ball around a little bit command-wise, but he made some pitches when he had to and only gave up two runs. We were able to score some runs for him and shut it down there with our bullpen. So he did OK.”
Several big names in the Braves organization or history spoke on Chipper Jones in a Mark Bowman article.
Michael Bourn has a slight sprain in his sore left thumb following an MRI. One would think Bourn will get a few games in before the wild card game, but we’ll see how the thumb feels each day this weekend.
Chipper Jones answers questions from Carroll Rogers of the AJC. A lot of this is stuff you’ve already read, but it’s still a great Q&A.
Jayson Stark does a great job of highlighting some of Chipper’s greatest accomplishments.
David Schoenfield gives his best moments of Chipper’s career, including a blurb from me and a link to my post on Chipper’s 10 most valuable games by WPA.
ESPN’s Triple Play series focuses on the NL Cy Young race, including whether Craig Kimbrel should be involved.
Jim Bowden guesses the rosters for the NL wild card game (ESPN Insider). We’ll analyze the roster when it becomes finalized.
Doug Thorburn of Baseball Prospectus analyzes Hanson’s mechanics and diagnoses the issues, namely timing and potential injury problems down the road.
Tyler Kepner of The New York Times has a great piece on Kris Medlen’s season.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs looks at the free agent value of Bourn and what he might get on the market compared to what he’s worth.