Various Pitching Thoughts and Other Ramblings

Written by Caleb on July 11, 2011 – 10:15 am

The Braves have assembled a consistent string of wins while scoring a decent amount of runs. The offense seems to be clicking, and if the past few games are harbingers of things to come, the offense could be an unstoppable force. Dan Uggla has shown renewed power and better plate discipline, while Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman are hammering every pitch they see. With just a few games before the All-Star break, I do not have any pressing issues to discuss. The trade rumors are swirling and all seem absolutely ridiculous. So instead of writing about one specific topic, I am just going to run through a general discussion of the team including a more in-depth look at the rotation from opening day.

As I mentioned, the offense is finally starting to click. The pitchers, both starters and the bullpen, continue to bolster their status as the best in the league. The second half of the season is going to be wild, to say the least. As I write this, the Braves are up on the Rockies in the final game of the series. I am going to assume they win this game. WIth the Phillies off tonight, the Braves will be heading into a three-game series with the Phillies only two and a half games back. In all likeliehood, the Braves are not going to sweep the Phillies in the final series before the All-Star break. But how awesome is it that they are close enough to moonwalk bounce house take over the lead in just one series?

The next three series after the break are with the Nationals (at home), the Rockies, and the Reds. The Braves should have a fully healthy team against the Nationals with Martin Prado returning and it will be interesting to see how the offense performs with him.  Those three series should not be that difficult, but Coors Field is always a question mark and the Reds are a top team in the central.

I am also interested in seeing the decision on whether Nate McLouth or Jordan Schafer will be in center field.  This might not even matter if Chipper Jones has surgery and Prado is moved to third. Chipper having surgery might be my preference. I like McLouth in left field and a healthy, rested Chipper at the end of the year would certainly help with the playoffs. My distaste for Schafer batting lead off has not dissipated, but I must admit, his defense has been great in center.

Ideally, once Prado returns, I would like to see a lineup of McLouth, Prado, McCann, Chipper, Heyward, Uggla, Freeman, and Gonzalez, in that order. The lineup decision was a bit tougher than expected. If McLouth returns to his hitting abilities before he was dropped to eighth, I do not know who to put in the lead-off spot. Prado would do in a pinch, but there is just no one for the Braves that can be used in the position.

Now on to some tidbits about the opening day rotation. The chart below shows the average runs per start the Braves produce while the starting pitcher is in the game. The other four categories are self-explanatory. Zero-run starts, are starts that the offense did not provide a single run while the starting pitcher remained in the game.

Runs Per Start Innings Innings Per Start Appearances Zero-Run Starts
Tommy Hanson 3.31 94.7 5.90 16 1
Derek Lowe 1.83 99.8 5.54 18 5
Tim Hudson 3.17 104.6 6.15 17 6
Brandon Beachy 2.27 61.1 5.55 11 2
Jair Jurrjens 3.00 102.1 6.81 15 2

I am surprised how low the runs per start for Lowe are. It always seems the offense does not score when he is pitching, but 1.83 runs per game is significantly lower than anyone else. Beachy has not had the run support, but he is receiving over half a run of offense more than Lowe. It should not be surprising that Jurrjens has pitched the second most innings. It is impressive that he is only two innings behind Hudson with two fewer appearances. With Tim Hudson having six zero run starts, there is no mystery to why his record is not as good as it should be with his peripherals.

The graphs below are just a visual representation of the runs scored during each starter’s duration each game alone with the average runs scored during his appearance. I thought it might be nice to add some color to the place.


*All data used is from Fangraphs.com and through the game on July 4, 2011.


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