This rotation can’t win the division.
There, I said it. With John Smoltz and his bum shoulder pushing him to the bullpen (hopefully if he can heal), our starting rotation looks a wee bit tattered. Think I’m kidding? Take a look at the starting rotation. Hudson has been the Ace so far, with six wins. Jurrjens has been great with four wins and 41 strikeouts in eight starts. And then we have Glavine, who is better than his record shows, deserving better than a 1-1 record, but concerning with a 4.41 ERA and a 1-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Past that, it’s not a rotation. It’s a random weekly game of bingo that decides between Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Jeff Bennett and they rotate out as soon as one of them sucks it up. And it’s not something that will let us compete into September. At least Chuck’s out of the consideration for now, but that just leaves room for another Joe Somebody to try.
We had depth, supposedly. But Smoltz has had shoulder issues – and he’s had those sporadically at the end of the season in seasons past. And I can’t even discuss what happened to Hampton without feeling like I’d be suggesting he could heal. And until he proves me wrong, I won’t believe it’s a possibility. But can we make it to September? I’m doubtful. Something has to be done.
Sure, we’re first in the league in ERA and BAA, and second in OPS allowed and third in WHIP, but does that mean jack diddly when we have three starters? It won’t last long, I tell you. We’ll miss Smoltz as long as his shoulder keeps him pitching two innings late in the game. We need a strong starter. And unless Jo-Jo Reyes can keep it up and start pitching like he pitches in AAA ball, where there’s less pressure, or Jeff Bennett turns a page for the rest of the season, we’ll be a team with three consistent starters and two fillers. It concerns me.
Do we make a move? We have tons of young outfielders in the minor league system. Do we bring up Charlie Morton from AAA and see if he is ready for the big time? I’m just an armchair GM, sure, but I’m not the only one in Atlanta who is a little concerned about our rotation.
Tags: Charlie Morton, Chuck James, Jair Jurrjens, Jeff Bennett, Jo-Jo Reyes, John Smoltz, Mike Hampton, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine
Posted in General | 25 Comments »
The Chuck James Train can’t keep making these trips back and forth from the minors – it’s not good for him and it’s really not good for the Braves. After last night’s outing – five earned runs and three homers in just four innings – James got demoted, once again. He’s obviously not back at the spot he needs to be to stay in the major league rotation.
The Braves have brought up reliever Phil Stockman, a righty, in time for the series against the Oakland A’s that starts tonight. Stockman was last up here in 2006 where he pitched four innings, walking four and striking out four and had a 2.25 ERA.
James said last night “I’ve just got to learn how to pitch again.” Certainly an indictment against his recent performance, as if the numbers didn’t scream loud enough that he’s not cut out for the job. James’ departure just shows us what we’ve denied for a while – that our rotation is thin. Seriously, Jo-Jo Reyes now has a starting spot after pitching well in the minors. And even though Jeff Bennett will likely move into James’ rotation slot, what happens if anyone else has any other issues? Because I’m not convinced the current rotation can hold it out for the rest of the season.
James to Richmond, and let’s hope he picks up some magic fairy dust there or something, because we may need him before it’s all over.
Tags: Chuck James, Phil Stockman
Posted in Roster Moves | No Comments »
When the hottest hitter in baseball is sitting out of the lineup, you’d expect that there’d be a couple offensive hitches. Chipper sat with a mild groin strain last night, and the Braves were unable to get anything going against Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies. Kelly Johnson also got a break and Ruben Gotay got the start at second. Omar Infante got the start at third for Chipper. The offense was benign without Chipper and nothing got going all night long.
Starting on the mound for the Braves was Chuck James, who had given up four home runs in 19 innings to date this year. He gave up three homers and five runs in just four innings last night. To quote him “I’ve just got to learn how to pitch again.” I know that the Citizens Bank Ballpark is famous for being a hitters park, but the Braves have to get more out of their starters to compete in games like this.
Cole Hamels, on the other hand, was excellent. He baffled Braves hitters all night long and ended with a four-hit shutout. That makes the Braves’ road record 6-16 – and yes, that’s the worst in the majors.
James is likely out of the starting rotation for a bit here. Who do you want to see replace him? Jeff Bennett? The AJC suggested Charlie Morton, a pitching prospect we saw in spring training but has been spending some time at Richmond before he comes to the majors. Do you think it’s time to give Morton a go?
Tags: Charlie Morton, Chuck James, Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Posted in Game Analysis | 7 Comments »
We’re in Philadelphia again tonight for the final game of the series. Tonight I’d like to see something different – something like finishing as strong as we start. The biggest obstacle we’ll have is not having Chipper Jones on the field. He’s out for the night with a sore groin which started bothering him during his last at-bat last night. At this point in the season, only two other batters in history have had an average of over .400. Chipper will be sorely missed in this clutch series finale.
Games one and two of the series have proven to be somewhat of a disappointment. After another one-run loss on Monday after a strong 3-0 start, the Braves barely held on last night after a huge lead as the Phillies rallied at the end of the game. This is not something that needs to continue. If we can play .500 ball on the road and play at home like we have been, the Braves will start to look a lot like a 1995 team. Certainly after a strong start like last night, morale couldn’t have been low. Maybe we settled in and got a bit too comfortable.
Tonight, Chuck James (2-2, 7.58) faces Cole Hamels (4-3, 3.36). James pitched six innings on Saturday in Pittsburgh, but allowed five earned runs on five hits to gain his second loss. His second win was against the Marlins in late April where he allowed two runs in five innings until a two run home run. Whereas this is not a very impressive statistic, James has a lot to prove as he was called up originally to replace Glavine while he was on the disabled list.
Watch for strikeouts from Hamel tonight. He struck out 11 batters in Milwaukee in late April, and it was his 8th double-digit strikeout night. He also has walked three or fewer batters in his last eight starts. The Braves will need to be sure to keep their bats alive.
The Braves will be back in Atlanta tomorrow night facing the A’s.
Tags: Chipper Jones, Chuck James, Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Posted in Game Threads | 146 Comments »
A night after having their 6-game win streak snapped by the Pirates, the Braves are looking to Chuck James to get them back in the win column in the second game of this road trip. James is all too familiar with the trips back and forth between Richmond and Atlanta, having started the season in Atlanta and amassing a 2-1 record before heading back to Richmond to continue to strengthen his injured shoulder. He makes the start in place of the incapable-to-ever-be-healthy, Mike Hampton, so he has a real opportunity to shine tonight and help maintain a job in the bigs for awhile. I personally would like to see Chuck find some consistency and stay in Atlanta for awhile.
The spot for James on the roster was made by placing Buddy Carlyle on the 15-day disabled list after the collision that knocked him out of the game in Atlanta on Thursday. Buddy has a strained neck and bruised temple and hopefully we’ll see him back in action after a little bit of rest. Road games have been the weak point of the Braves so far this season. With a road record of 4-12, the Braves have the fewest road wins in the majors so far this season. You can’t make it to the postseason if you can’t win on the road.
Taking the mound for the Pirates will be Tom Gorzelanny (2-3, 6.91). Gorzelanny has a tendency to give up runs, but the real key is whether or not the Braves can get the bats going early in the game. We’ve had problems with McLouth and Nady patrolling the Pirates outfield and stealing hits away from us. Hopefully we can get that changed tonight and put another win up on the board.
Tags: Buddy Carlyle, Chuck James, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tom Gorzelanny
Posted in Game Threads | 51 Comments »
Mike Hampton was injured yet again to the point where he might as well legally changed his middle name to “Injury-prone.” Turns out he re-injured the pectoral muscle he injured warming up earlier this year. They had him on a 75 pitch count and Hampton exited his start after throwing just 71 pitches into the fourth inning. He allowed one run on four hits, four strikeouts and two walks before his premature exit. The injury is not believed to be as serious as it was the first time and may only set Hampton back two to three weeks. Of course, with Atlanta’s injury woes at the major league level, that seems like an eternity.
Chuck James replaced Hampton in the fourth inning, leading fans to believe that Jo-Jo Reyes will get the start against the Reds this weekend in place of the fifth starter. Reyes has been spectacular at Richmond, going 1-1 with 1.17 ERA in 23 innings, his most impressive stat might be that he has walked only eight hitters in the 23 innings pitched.
Tags: Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes, Mike Hampton
Posted in Injuries | 10 Comments »
The offense has two positions – on and off. They tore out of the gate yesterday – scoring five runs in the first inning while batting through the order. That included a 2 RBI double from Francoeur and a massive fly ball from Chuck James – had he not gotten under it, we would have seen the first hit from a Braves pitcher be a home run. Chipper added his own touch on his birthday, hitting his seventh bomb of the year in the second. Francoeur knocked in McCann in the eighth with a sacrifice fly. McCann had just tripled (with the most awkward slide in history into third) – had everyone laughing. That’s right, McCann tripled – may be the only time in his career.
James pitched a good five innings of ball – he was solid, but not lights out. Gave up four runs, struck out three, but walked five. Campillo and Acosta each pitched two scoreless innings to finish the game out. Great to see some solid relief out of the bullpen. James got sent down to Richmond after the game in exchange for a fresh bullpen arm – we’ll find out who today. Good to see the 7-4 win over the Marlins, who are at the top of the division.
Some great defense in center field yesterday for Gregor Blanco, who started in place of Mark Kotsay. He had a great catch against the wall and made a second interesting catch going back towards the wall. He’s fast – there were a couple he got to simply because of his speed. He ran out a groundball at first base – and beat it out too. Great to have him in the lineup.
It’s a good thing the offense was firing yesterday – we have to score runs as long as James and Bennett are starting – but can’t we get Smoltzie just a couple runs next time, fellas?
Tags: Chipper Jones, Chuck James, Florida Marlins
Posted in Game Analysis | 9 Comments »
Chuck James pitched 5 innings tonight against the Marlins, giving up 4 runs and earning his second win of the season. After the game however, Chuck was optioned back to AAA Richmond. James was making starts in place of the injured Tom Glavine who is set to come off the disabled list with a strained hamstring this coming Tuesday against the Nationals. The Braves made the move today instead of on Tuesday to call up a fresh arm for the bullpen to have over the weekend. This announcement should come sometime tomorrow.
Guesses as to who may be called up are hard to formulate now, but I’d say Jo-Jo Reyes has a chance. The roster doesn’t have room for more starters right now, but Jo-Jo is having a hot season for Richmond thus far. He has 24 strikeouts and only 6 walks in 21 innings thus far this season. He’s also sitting with a 0.43 ERA. It looks like the time spent on his mechanics thus far this season have been a big help for Jo-Jo who walked 11 in 11 innings in spring training. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear about who’s getting called up.
Tags: AAA, Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes, Optioned, Richmond, Tom Glavine
Posted in Roster Moves | 5 Comments »
Tonight, Chuck James (1-1, 7.88 ERA) faces Burke Badenhop (0-1, 7.00 ERA) as the Braves take on the Marlins. Last night’s game against the Marlins left some Braves fans with a sour taste in their mouth. After successfully hitting better than the fish last night, the Braves fell hard at the end of the game, leaving runners on base in every inning but the fifth. This seems to be a trend that the Braves hope to crack tonight.
Chuck James pitched well against the Dodgers; let’s hope that he can keep that up tonight. James had a 1.19 ERA against the Marlins in the past, a clutch statistic we’d like to hold onto.
We’ll have to keep our eyes on Hermida, a Marietta native who gives strength to the Marlins. Also, keep your eyes on Jeff Francoeur who has been less than himself the past two games. After running back to first base after a fly-out by McCann, Jeff pulled up in seeming pain. The remainder of the game, Francoeur didn’t have the drive he usually exhibits letting multiple obtainable balls fall in front of him.
Tonight we’ll have to hope to break our 2 game losing streak and get back up in the NL East rankings.
And also: happy birthday, Mr. Jones.
Tags: Burke Badenhop, Chipper Jones, Chuck James, Florida Marlins
Posted in Game Threads | 154 Comments »
It was a great afternoon for baseball as the Braves faced off against the Dodgers in the second game of the three-game series. Chuck James took the hill for the Braves in place of Tom Glavine, who finds himself on the disabled llist for the first time in his 22-year career. After a not so stellar first appearance of the season, James didn’t look bad at all today. He threw for 5 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run. That run came on an Andruw Jones solo home run that landed deep in the left field seats. This also amounted to all of the run production to Dodgers would have on the day.
The Braves’ offense was held pretty stagnant with the exception of the 5th inning when they beat up on Chad Billingsley, who struck out 9 batters through 5 innings. Johnson, Escobar, Chipper and Teixeira all came across the plate to create a 4-run 5th inning, and enough offense for the Braves to win 4-1.
The Braves face off against the Dodgers in the final game of the series tomorrow afternoon, looking for their first true sweep of the season and to get back to .500 on the season. Jair Jurrjens will be up against Hiroki Kuroda for the Dodgers.
Tags: Andruw Jones, Chuck James, Los Angeles Dodgers
Posted in Game Analysis | No Comments »
With Tom Glavine making his first career trip to the disabled list, Chuck James steps in to take the start today. James was called back up from AAA Richmond last night when Glavine was placed on the DL. James has been rehabbing some of his own injuries however, but hopefully this start will be a little kinder to him than his last. In that game, he gave up 6 runs in only 3 innings of work.
The Braves are coming off of two straight strong offensive showings and looking for a third consecutive win. They seem to be happy to be back home and Chipper Jones is on fire with 4 home runs in his last two games. It’s time to get a good win streak going and inch our way back towards .500 baseball. Most of the BravesBlast staff will be at the game today, but I’ll be sure to keep this game thread updated via BlackBerry as best I can.
Tags: Chipper Jones, Chuck James, Los Angeles Dodgers
Posted in Game Threads | 42 Comments »
For the first time in his 22-year major league career, Tom Glavine will be headed to the DL with a hamstring strain. Glavine left his last start in Washington after facing just four hitters and recording no uts, his shortest outing since 1989.
Glavine joins the long list of Braves pitchers already on the DL. Moylan, Soriano and Mike Gonzalez out of the bullpen to go with starter Mike Hampton, who now makes the disables list his vacation home during the season.
Glavine finished last season in the top three in the NL in quality starts (along with Smoltz and Hudson) and was well on his way to getting there again. He had allowed just one earned run in 11 1/3 innings before the Washington start.
Barring further injury, Glavine will be eligible to come off the DL Tuesda, May 29 with his placement on the DL retroactive to the 14th.
Starting tomorrow, Chuck James makes his second return to the bigs this season and will take the mound on Saturday against the Dodgers. Hopefully it will be better than his first where he allowed the Rockies to get ahead before the Braves were able to put some runs on the board. If James is ineffective, Jojo Reyes would also be available.
Tags: Chuck James, Disabled List, Injury, Tom Glavine
Posted in Injuries | 6 Comments »