As reported by Atlanta Braves beat writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Braves RHP Jair Jurrjens has been optioned to triple-A after last night’s loss to the Dodgers. He’s 0-2 and hasn’t looked good at all this year or even during Spring Training. Updates and reactions to come as the day goes on.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Braves Blog, Jair Jurrjens
Posted in General, Pitching, Roster Moves | No Comments »
In Philadelphia tonight, a 20 year old widely recognized as the best pitching prospect in baseball will make his debut. In front of a sellout crowd, the Phillies will be reminded again that while they have
three two aces (with Oswalt on the DL), the Braves have the prospects to dominate them for years.
First, Teheran. 1.80 ERA, 25 strikeouts and 8 walks in five starts and 30 innings this year at AAA-Gwinnett. Though he’s seen a drop in K/9IP to a disgusting 7.5 this year, he’s seen his FIP improve to 2.53. Scouts rave about his fastball that sits at 93-94mph and tops out at 97, his plus changeup (81-86mph), and ding him for hanging a curveball (69-76mph) here and there.
Teheran is only 20 years old. He’s raw. He’s talented. The key for success here (as with a lot of young pitchers) is in how he reacts to big league hitters adjusting to him. He’s not proven at the big league level. But he’s also good enough to get “best pitching prospect in baseball” tattooed on him.
Let me take a minute to bash on the Phillies. The ever-overpaid D-UI Lowe just tagged them for seven innings of no-hit baseball yesterday. He was pulled because of a blister on his foot that - for all we know – he developed during his field sobriety test. Yes, Lee struck out 16 Braves, but we also nailed him for three runs. Combined, Lowe, O’Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel held their once mighty offense to two hits and no runs in a power friendly ballpark.
The Phillies might have the appearance of having the edge in pitching if you look at the names in their rotation (or payroll, if you so choose). But if you look at the numbers you’ll realize the Braves have matched them thus far – they top the Phillies in ERA 2.88 to 3.14 and trail in FIP 2.32 to 2.82. If you like strikeouts, you’ll get more of those with the Phillies, sure. But an out is an out.
So to recap, we’re matching the Phillies in pitching so far this year, and we’re going to dominate them in years to come. When they need a spot start, they resort to pitching Kyle Kendrick. We’re calling up a kid with true ace potential for his first big league action. It’s just a rough life, having to pick a five man rotation from Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Hanson, Beachy, Minor, R. Lopez and Teheran.
I’m looking forward to the game – regardless of the outcome (Braves will win), it’ll be fun to watch a future star make his debut against 2011′s division rivals. Go get ‘em, Julio!
Tags: Cliff Lee, Derek Lowe, Julio Teheran
Posted in Pitching, Roster Moves | 1 Comment »
In the “The Braves Are Falling Apart” category, Derek Lowe was arrested Thursday night and charged with DUI, reckless driving and failure to maintain a lane.
The AJC reports that Lowe was arrested on Peachtree Street at Rumson Road around 10 PM and that the officer smelled alcohol. Lowe refused a breathalyzer.
That’s all the information we have now. It’s a general DUI arrest notice and nothing is newsworthy other than the name. So, what’s the rest of this article about?
First, how about a little rant. If YOU are making $15M EACH FRIGGIN YEAR, why don’t you have a permanent driver that follows you around and takes your keys when you’ve had even half a sip of an alcoholic beverage? Even if that’s absurd, how hard is it to call a damn cab and leave your car there overnight? The concerning thing here is the attitude of entitlement and feeling like you can do whatever you want. Must have been pretty toasted if he was swerving recklessly.
Secondly, how does this impact the Braves? Well, Mike Minor is in the wings waiting for another opportunity to prove his mettle. If Lowe misses time for either a suspension or eventual jail time (or court dates), Minor can jump in and pick up the start(s). I’m not so worried about that. But this comes on the heels of the incident in San Francisco with Roger McDowell, and concerns me a bit. The Braves need some serious buckle down – two major incidents worthy of national news coverage isn’t quite the media coverage the team would like. I would like to see the Braves come down fairly hard and make the point that unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated.
My ultimate concern is that these two incidents are indicative of an attitude issue in the clubhouse. Are these two incidents coincidentally back to back or were they just inevitable? Discuss.
Tags: Derek Lowe, DUI, Roger McDowell
Posted in General, Pitching | 4 Comments »
As has been speculated over the past couple of days, the Braves have officially placed Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day disabled list and called Mike Minor up to Atlanta. Jurrjens has been fighting a right oblique strain since a late-March Spring Training start.
Jurrjens was originally slated to make his first start of the season on Monday against the Brewers, but the Braves have decided to make the more cautious approach to help try to keep Jair healthy through the season. He missed a few months of the 2010 season after experiencing knee and hamstring issues.
Minor will make a spot start against the Brewers on Wednesday and will likely stay in Atlanta until Jurrjens is healthy enough to be reactivated. In 8 starts for the Braves in 2010, Minor had a 3-2 record with a 5.98 ERA, striking out 43 and walking 11 in 40 2/3 innings. Minor will have to continue to work on his pitch placement to cut down on the number of hits he gives up, but he’s a great pitcher in the making for the Braves.
Jurrjens DL stint will be retroactive to March 25th and eligible to be reactivated in about a week, but it looks like a mid-to-late April return is much more likely.
Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of things to come in 2011 and on for Jurrjens as the Braves need to capitalize on the upside and potential he offers.
Tags: Disabled List, Injury, Jair Jurrjens
Posted in Injuries, Pitching | 3 Comments »
The Atlanta Braves will enter the 2011 season with a number of familiar faces taking the mound on a day-to-day basis. Four of the five rotation spots for the Braves are pretty much locked in (barring injuries during the preseason) before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next Monday. Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens will fill the front four holes in the starting rotation come Opening Day.
While we’ll highlight our front-four later in the preseason, the question becomes, who will fill the final spot of the rotation? Inevitably, we will likely see more than one of these candidates in Atlanta at one point or another throughout the season due to injuries, but hopefully we won’t run into major issues. I’d say there are four candidates for the spot, some with a better chance than others:
Mike Minor – Minor made his MLB debut last August after Kenshin Kawakami was removed from the starting rotation and made 8 starts, putting together a 3-2 record with a 5.98 ERA. After starting 3-0 in his first four starts, he was 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in the last four. With a fastball consistent around 90 and touching up to 95, Minor will be able to become far more effective as a pitcher if he can perfect his changeup. Minor holds the Braves rookie-record for strikeouts after striking out 12 in 6 innings against the Chicago Cubs last season (former record was 11 by Tommy Hanson).
Brandon Beachy – Beachy made his MLB debut last September after a knee injury sidelined Jair Jurrjens. In his three starts last season, he compiled an 0-2 record, but had an ERA of only 3.00. Beachy led all of the minors last season with a 1.73 ERA before being called up to Atlanta. In 73 innings of AA pitching in 2010, he struck out 100.
Rodrigo Lopez - Lopez was signed by the Braves at the end of January to a minor league contract. Pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, Lopez compiled a 7-16 record and an ERA around 5.00. I don’t know too terribly much about him, but I would put his chance of starting the season anywhere other than the minors as fairly slim.
Kenshin Kawakami – It’s not like we haven’t given him a chance. We even spent time defending him. But finally, it had to end. Everyone knows Kawakami was 1-10 last season with a 5.15 ERA across 18 starts. Sure, he lost on lack of run support a number of times, but when it comes down to it, the Braves just weren’t winning games with him out there. With one year left on his contract, the Braves still owe him about $6.7 million, and will likely have to eat a good bit of that no matter what. Here’s hoping that Frank Wren can find someone to take him off our hands before the season. Either way, I don’t expect to see him on the lineup card in the first week of the season.
With that being said, I think Minor or Beachy are the most likely candidates to fill the role to start the season. I’m not sure which way I’m leaning yet, but those are the options. And who knows, Julio Teheran’s on his way to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. So who would you like to see in Atlanta for the start of the season?
Tags: Brandon Beachy, Kenshin Kawakami, Mike Minor, Rodrigo Lopez, Spring Training, Starting Pitching
Posted in Pitching | 5 Comments »
The addition of Cliff Lee definitely helps the Phillies’ chances. There’s no denying that fact. And I must tip my cap to the Philly front office for pulling a rabbit out of the proverbial hat by swiping Lee away from the Rangers and Yanks. BUT… many fans are vastly underselling an Atlanta rotation, which will STILL stand up respectably next to any other starting staff in baseball. And when bullpens are factored into the pitching equation, barring substantial misfortune, the Braves pitching simply will not be outclassed to any significant degree by ANYONE in 2011.
Today, we size up the two beasts of the NL East… and I’ll give you a few things to chew on that should make you feel better, if you’re a Braves fan.
I generally make my official season projections late in the spring. But if I had to guess right now, here the numbers I would project for both the Atlanta and Philly starting staffs. Rationale for these expectations explained in audio blog above.
PROJECTED ’11 BRAVES ROTATION:
PROJECTED ’11 PHILLIES ROTATION:
Tags: Audio, Cliff Lee, Fried Baseball, NL East Blogs, Philadelphia Phillies, Starting Pitching
Posted in Pitching | 18 Comments »
Yesterday, the Players Choice Awards named Tim Hudson the National League Comeback Player of the Year. After missing all but the final month of the 2009 season, Hudson returned to form for the Braves in 2010, providing much-needed pitching stability down the stretch. When the Braves were in a must-win situation, they turned to Hudson, who made 3 starts in the final 7 days of the regular season, to boost the Braves into the playoffs.
In 34 starts in the 2010 season, Hudson compiled a 17-9 record with a 2.83 ERA and 139 strikeouts. Personally, I’m pretty excited to have Hudson around for at least two more seasons (and a 3rd on club option) to help anchor our pitching staff.
Tags: Tim Hudson
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Pending his approval, Roy Oswalt will be making 12 plus starts for the Phillies over the course of the next two months. As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs.com points out, this trade is an admission of guilt by GM Ruben Amaro for inexplicably trading Cliff Lee last off-season. The Lee trade left the team with a top heavy rotation that was hurt even further when it lost J.A. Happ to the disabled list after only two starts.
Following the Happ injury in April, the Phillies rotation looked like this: 1) Roy Halladay 2) Cole Hamels 3-5) Kyle Kendrick, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton. To translate this into Braves lingo, they had a Maddux, a Glavine and then three Kenshin Kawakamis. Another comparable would be the Braves’ 2007 rotation which consisted of Hudson, Smoltz and then three or four Kenshin Kawakamis. That season there was an incredible amount of pressure on the games Huddy and Smoltz started, because losing them meant there could easily be a four or five game losing streak. Both of them stayed healthy all season and pitched very well, but the team could only win 84 games, good for third in the NL East.
The Phillies’ top two of Halladay and Hamels have been in a similar situation all year but have managed to lead the team to an impressive 55-46 record prior to the Oswalt trade. Unfortunately, adding the Astros’ ace to their staff significantly improves the Phillies’ chances at catching the Braves down the stretch. Oswalt, who will essentially be replacing the mediocre Jamie Moyer, has been very good this year, with his 8.37 K/9 ratio being the highest it has been since his rookie season.
The Phillies could potentially switch to a four man rotation at some point before the season is over. Doing so would eliminate yet another horrible starter from their rotation. This combined with the return of Utley and Victorino will make them a very dangerous team. The Braves still have a 3.5 game head start, but their chances at winning the division looked a whole lot better one week ago. At that point the lead was seven games and Oswalt was still in an Astros’ uniform. Six games remain between Atlanta and Philly including the three game set at Turner Field to end the season. As Billy Wagner predicted long ago, these three games just might determine who wins the NL East.
Tags: Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Oswalt, Trade Rumors
Posted in League Analysis, Pitching, Speculation | 4 Comments »
Conrad is, as my grandfather used to say, “so clutch that the engine fell out.” I still don’t quite get it either, but you kind of understand what he’s trying to say. When a guy comes up in these huge clutch hits and can deliver like that… wow. It is, in many ways, the signature of this Braves team, as I have said before. Tonight we had some overall great performers, but Brooks Conrad, who only had one at bat, mind you, took the cake. His second grand slam of the year (leading the majors in that category… and he’s only had a fraction of all the other players in the league), putting the Braves up 9-5. What can you say about a guy with that kind of production from the bench? What can you say about a team with that much production from its bench? To me, it says that when/if the Braves finally start clicking on all cylinders (as we haven’t this entire year… someone is always doing something sub-par… this last week’s culprits have been Troy Glaus and Billy Wagner), the team is easily the most dominant in terms of overall depth and skill. Let’s take a look at some of the other great players for tonight…
Jason Heyward: The guy is simply the rookie of the year. There’s just no doubt about it. When he is playing the way that he can, there is absolutely no stopping this kid. Some people like to point to wunderkinds like Strasburg and say that he should get the RotY, but, let’s face it, no other rookie can do what Heyward can do, and as reliably, when he is healthy. He can field (summon up his first game after the all-star break), he can run bases (any night when you see him go from first to third on a lazy single, or when he jacks second right from under catcher’s noses), and he‘s dynamite in the batter’s box (this series in particular — he’s reached base 9 out of 10 times). In Heyward’s last five games, his OBP is a whopping .640, and all of which were multi-hit games. He’s on fire, and I don’t see him slowing down any time soon. Frank Wren needs to throw up a huge contract to Heyward ASAP. Nail him down for ten-plus years. I don’t ever want to see 22 on another team.
Martin Prado: His leadoff home run was just great. He easily could have had another 3-hit game if it weren’t for the nice play by the pitcher in the third. He went through a little slump at the beginning of the second half, but it looks like Prado is back where he should be. Three hits tonight gets his average back up to .320 (instead of the lowly ghettos of the .310′s, of course), and still 15 hits above anyone else in the NL. He could conceivably take half a month off and still be in the lead. Think Prado is going to ease off the gas though? Oh no. You know why? Because he’s so clutch that the engine fell out.
Eric Hinske: We can’t talk about clutch without talking about Hinske. He was the hero of the game for the Braves for all of a third of an inning before Conrad’s bomb. He only had one hit, but he made it count, driving in runs 4 & 5, and playing a huge role in the Braves victory.
Jesse Chavez & Johnny Venters: The bullpen shut down the Fins when we needed it badly. Had it not been for these two guys (Chavez in particular! I never thought I’d say that.) it had the potential for another heartbreaking loss. It just goes to show you the vast chasm that seperates these two teams. Although the Braves had a bad night last night, our bullpen got it done, setting people down with relative ease.
And now for those guys that were struggling tonight…
Troy Glaus: The guy can’t buy a hit right now. One month he puts up prodigious, player-of-the-month type numbers, the next, nothing. I’m losing faith in our number five man; that’s a position we can’t be in if we’re going to contend for the pennant. I’m not asking for June numbers, I’m just asking for something to feel good about, because right now, we’re not getting any kind of production from him.
Nate McLouth: I think one more bad game pretty much shuts the gate on Nate. He’s 1-13 since returning to the line-up, and his batting average is lower than some of our pitchers, and he doesn’t even hit the ball hard. I don’t know if it’s all in his head or what, but right now, McLouth is looking very much like a bust, but what do you do? There aren’t a lot of options out there. DeJesus is hurt. Ross is batting a puny .146 this month. Someone like Josh Willingham might be attainable, but at what price? We don’t want to give the Nationals too much. There’s questions aplenty that are all swirling around the drainpipe that is Nate McLouth. In the end, I think you sit McLouth and let Hinske, Diaz, and Cabrera platoon left and center. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best we have right now.
I don’t want to end this in all this prognostication, so let me say that I think that we’re coming up against two more teams to round off this road trip that I think we have the ability to play very good and take some more series. The first games against the Nats and the Reds should be the most interesting games of the series with the old vet, Hanson, taking on Strasburg, a boy that he has already beaten once this year — but this time, it’s on his own turf. Then we will see two young bucs — Medlen and Cueto — start the Reds series off with a bang. The next week should be a fun one for Braves fans.
Posted in Game Analysis, Pitching | No Comments »
Major League Baseball has decided to issue suspensions to Braves reliever Jonny Venters as well as manager Bobby Cox for “throwing at” Prince Fielder in Saturday night’s game against the Brewers. Venters has been suspended for four games, Cox for one, in addition to an undisclosed fine handed to Venters.
The official statement made by Bob Watson states that Venters is being suspended for “throwing two consecutive pitches at Prince Fielder” and the Cox is being suspended for “the intentional actions of Venters after a warning had been issued to the pitcher following the first intentional pitch thrown at Fielder”. Both Venters and Cox, as expected, denied that the pitches were intentional.
There has been lots of speculation as to whether or not the beaning was intentional and as to what the provocation may have been, but as far as I’m concerned, let them play baseball. Everything will work out, everything will be square and let’s move on with the season. These suspensions seem a bit of a double-standard to me (Glaus was hit in Sunday’s game after a warning had been issued and no ejection was issued) and I would be saying this if it were the other way around as well. Let them play baseball! No one got hurt, no one was fighting. This is just ridiculous.
Cox is expected to serve his one game suspension on Tuesday against the Padres. It has not yet been decided if Venters will appeal the suspsension.
Tags: Bobby Cox, Jonny Venters, Prince Fielder, Suspended, Suspension
Posted in Pitching | 3 Comments »
With Jason Heyward sitting out the All-Star game, National League manager Charlie Manuel extended an invite to Braves closer Billy Wagner to join the squad. Despite being appreciative of the offer, Wagner declined, preferring to rest his sore ankle over the break.
Wagner has been nursing a sore ankle since turning it against the Rays on June 17th. Though only being unavailable for one appearance so far, he sees it best to give it as much rest as possible and not push it during the All-Star Game.
Although Wagner won’t appear in the game, he will still receive the recognition for being selected as an All-Star for the 7th (and likely final with his impending retirement) time. Hong-Chih Kuo from the Los Angeles Dodgers will fill the spot instead.
I’m glad Wags got the honor of receiving a much-deserved All-Star bid and even more glad that he seems to be thinking playoffs and long-term for the Braves this season. We’re going to need him to continue being dominant down the stretch this season.
Tags: All-Star Game, Billy Wagner
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Jair Jurrjens returned to the Atlanta Braves’ rotation yesterday rested and ready to do battle against the Washington Nationals. In five-plus innings, Jurrjens struck out six and allowed one run (thanks to the relief work of Peter Moylan) and knocked in the go-ahead run as the Braves took the rubber game of the series and won 4-1.
Jurrjens’ admitted to being nervous before the start after two months on the Disabled List because of a hamstring injury, but showed none of it on the mound. His fake bunt and slash RBI single to left field almost took out Ryan Zimmerman on its way to left field.
As our own Kent Covington has pointed out, Jurrjens’ hamstring injury was a blessing in disguise. In Spring Training, Jurrjens battled an inflamed shoulder and elbow. The two months on the bench gave his shoulder and elbow time to recover that simply wasn’t happening before the injury, when his fastballs were routinely in the high 80s. Last night, Jurrjens’ fastball was what Kent calls “resting” in the low 90s – indicating Jurrjens is likely not experiencing the arm issues he was before his DL stint. The other hidden blessing of Jurrjens’ injury was of course the rise of Kris Medlen as the best 5th starter candidate on the team.
If Jurrjens can stay healthy the rest of the season and be as effective as he was last night, his return from the DL will become the equivalent of pulling off a blockbuster trade for another ace. Jurrjens is probably our number two or three pitcher in this rotation, and with his return, our rotation is stronger than it was with Kawakami in Jurrjens’ spot.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Jair Jurrjens, Washington Nationals
Posted in Game Analysis, Pitching | 1 Comment »