Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31: Ten Game Lead

July 30: It’s not that I’m not worried about the Braves. Advancing in the playoffs is hard, and requires superior pitching. The Braves received Quality Starts in four straight games: Thursday through Sunday. Even with several pitchers many consider inconsistent, Atlanta is second in the league in Quality Starts and fifth in ERA. In his first start of the year Beachy allowed five runs to the powerful Rockies lineup. The nine game lead gives Beachy several starts to regain his 2012 form. If rookie pheenom Alex Wood doesn’t work out as a starter, Maholm has the luxury of making several minor league injury-rehab starts to regain his form.
Monday the Braves came back to win after falling behind 5-0. They won without closer Craig Kimbrel. The MLB’s top pinch-hitter Reed Johnson goes on the DL and rookie Joey Terdoslavich steps in and more than fills his place. The offense scored nine runs.

The Braves carry a nine game lead into late July, even though four pitchers are out for the year: Venters, O’Flaherty, Martinez, and Hudson. Even though twelve players have missed time due to injuries: Freeman, both Uptons, Heyward, Maholm, Reed Johnson, McCann, Gattis, Laird, Schafer, Walden, and Beachy. Even though the Braves are near the top of the league in strikeouts, though the rate is declining. A nine game lead even though several players have spent  a major portion of the season below the Mendoza Line: both Uptons, Freeman, Uggla, Francisco. Andrelton Simmons has also struggled at the plate.

Many say we haven’t seen the best from most of the hitters in the lineup. My hope is that the hitters and pitchers heat up in late September, so the Braves will be primed for a dominant playoff run. The Braves sweep St. Louis, the team with the best record in the National League. And what does ESPN talk about? Jeter’s home run, Puig’s slide. Ortiz’s home run. Pujols on the DL. That’s New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Los Angeles. I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking forward to the new Fox Sports network. 

July 31: Tuesday night the offense busted out. Uggla, McCann, Gattis, Justin, Heyward, Freeman. Those were just the ones I remember. Even Cunningham got a hit.

Another Quality Start by a Braves starting pitcher: at least 4 in the past 5 games. After pitching three straight games it was nice for Kimbrel to get another night of rest. Monday night the Braves were down to Kimbrel and Vavaro were the only pitchers left, and Kimbrel was supposed to have the night off.

The Division Lead is now in double digits. Will be interesting to see if a trade goes down today. I don’t see anyone out there who has better stats than who we already have. Fans clammer for a trade, thinking the Braves can’t win without one of these available pitchers. A year after the Maholm trade no one is talking about what a great job he’s done. No one should’ve expected him to be the next Bob Gibson. Maholm has quietly given the Braves plenty of innings, wins, and Quality Starts.

Mizuno outfitted Gattis with special El Oso Blanco cleats. On the back there’s a white bear, whose red tongue is shaped like Texas, and the number twenty-four. The last number 24 for the Braves who had his own special shoes was Deion Sanders.

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