In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent Covington breaks down the Braves’ recent surge and previews the big series in Philly this weekend. Feel free to toss in your 2 cents in the comments section below.
Tags: Audio, Fried Baseball, Offense, Philadelphia Phillies, Win Streak
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The Braves lead the NL in ERA (2.94). Not far behind are the Phillies with a 3.03 ERA.
The Braves have scored 4.2 runs per game thus far. The Phillies… 4.6 per game.
The Braves run differential is +38 (third-best in baseball). The Phillies differential… +41 (second-best)
But the similarities don’t stop there. In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent Covington points out the similarities in the way these two teams have played vs quality teams, the way each team has beaten up on cellar dwellers… and the role schedule strength has played in the early season standings. Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
Tags: 2011, Atlanta Braves, Audio, Fried Baseball, NL East Blogs, Performance, Philadelphia Phillies
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Let’s start off by discussing two Braves that fans do not seem pleased with right now. No, I’m talking about Lowe and McDowell. I mean Messrs. Linebrink and Sherrill. Fredi Gonzalez has not used them in the situations they are best suited for (though I really have no idea where Linebrink should be used), but let’s just ignore that for this post. Let’s just look at their performances in whatever situation they happen to be placed.
The chart below complies a few stats of these two relievers.
Sherrill’s most damaging issue (he has plenty of other issue, just not as damaging, yet) is his walk rate. His BB/9 is the nice round figure of 6. If he can limit the walks, he is serviceable reliever for an out here or there, especially when Gonzalez needs an out against a left-hander. His WAR of 0.1 makes him, more or less, a replacement-level player. His contract is small, and if Fredi continues to use him as a left-handed specialist, there should not be any issues.
On the other hand, there is Scott Linebrink (as I write this, Linebrink just allowed a run in the eighth inning of the first game on Wednesday). When Linebrink pitches a ball anywhere near the plate, the ball usually slams against the outfield wall or, even better, just flies over it. He has an astounding HR/FB rate of 14.3%. With a FB% of 48.3%, the runs will start to pile up. That’s not even noting a BABIP (batting average of balls in play, this excludes home runs) of over one hundred percentage points above average at .407. So, a word of advice to opposing hitters, just try to put the bat on the ball. The probability of a hit is greatly in your favor in comparison to other pitchers.
Odds and Ends:
As of close of business on Tuesday, the Braves were 15-15. According to the Pythagorean winning percentage, with the Braves averaging 4.1 runs per game versus allowing 3.3, their record should be 18-12. That record looks quite a bit better than sitting at .500. Obviously, the Braves have experienced some bad luck in one way or another, especially with balls in play. Atlanta’s BABIP is a lovely .263. One would expect the number to regress towards the MLB average of .300 and push the run differential further apart, assuming pitching and defense remain static.
Comparatively, the Phillies have been lucky by one game. With their 4.5 runs scored versus 3.3 allowed, their record should be sitting at 18-10 and not 19-9. The Marlins have the smallest run differential between the three with 4.6 to 3.9 and should be sitting at 16-12, according to the formula. The Phillies BABIP is .299 and Marlins is .296, effectively the average. Assuming luck evens out, one should expect the Braves to grab some wins and the Phillies and Marlins to lose a few thus pulling the top three closer to the predicted finishing order of Phillies, Braves, and Marlins.
One final note on the top three in the NL East. The Braves have faced 9 teams with records above .500 while the Phillies have only played 5. Surprisingly, the Marlins have played 10 teams with .500 or better records and have gone 6-4 against them.
Thanks to FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference for the hours of my life those sites consume. Also for the stats. FanGraphs has an excellent glossary for the Saber stats I use. And of course, if you have any questions about them, just let me know.
Tags: BABIP, Florida Marlins, George Sherrill, Philadelphia Phillies, Scott Linebrink
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I’ve never been so proud of the Phillies and Mets in my life. It was tough fighting back tears listening to the crowd in Philly chanting “U-S-A” after the breaking news about the death of Osama bin Laden.
Whenever I think of “things American,” baseball is one of the first things that comes to mind. American ballparks are one of the few places where we revel in the fact that we are Americans and are proud of where we live. Where else is the National Anthem played, followed by “God Bless America,” and you hear little kids getting frustrated with anyone “exercising their rights” by not standing up? I love it every time I hear a kid ask someone why they aren’t standing during the Star Spangled Banner.
At Turner Field Sunday games, we honor our military service members who have returned from deployment and thank them for their sacrifices to give us our protection and maintain our freedom. When those military personnel take the field, nearly everyone in the stadium stands, claps, and cheers. This is especially touching for me as my significant other is currently deployed in a special operations unit in Afghanistan, and every game I ask “is it Dan this time? Is he home early?” I am always especially happy to see the smile on their face, knowing what they have been through, what they have given up, and knowing how glad they are to be back. “Thank you” is never really enough no matter how many times we say it or how much we mean it.
I can’t even begin to describe the sacrifice that these people and their families make, and how absolutely proud I am that the people who love the game that I love really show that they support and understand, appreciate, and respect that.
Hopefully the Atlanta Braves organization can continue to be a leader in American pride, military appreciation, and tradition. I am a proud American, and in the spirit of unity, I’m really proud of the Mets and Phillies fans who banded together last night truly proving that we’re all in this together.
Tags: America, American Dream, baseball, New York Mets, Osama Bin Laden, Philadelphia Phillies, Values
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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 »
In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent Covington wonders how creative the Braves are willing to get in their efforts landing another big bat. Throw in your 2 cents in the comments area below… or leave a message with your questions or comments for a future commentary at 888-669-5368 (ext.701.)
Tags: Fried Baseball, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Oswalt, Trade Rumors
Posted in Roster Moves, Speculation | 1 Comment »
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 »
In the last two weeks, the Atlanta Braves have played the Tampa Bay Rays, the Philadelphia Phillies have played the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Now the Florida Marlins are playing the Rays and the New York Mets are taking on the Yankees now that they’ve demolished the pitiful Baltimore Orioles. The record so far? The NL East has won 12 games, the AL East had won 5.
The NL East is good this year. Yes, our Bravos are good (and we’re damn good). We’re 29-0 when we score 5 runs or more, and we have the best home record in baseball. But it’s not a one-team division. The Phillies are starting to bat again and have started winning a few games. And though the Mets have been beating up on last place teams like the Orioles and Indians, they’ve won 8 straight. The Marlins and Nationals have shown flashes of brilliance but are riding some younger teams that aren’t developed to the point they need to be at to compete in the NL East.
The AL East is good too. Obviously you have the defending World Champ Yankees. I will point out their pitching staff has been improved by an NL East castoff (Vazquez). The Rays are just playing great baseball in almost every aspect of the game, and then you’ve got the Red Sox hanging just one game back. Even the Blue Jays have surprised and are playing six games above .500. The Orioles don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the word “good,” but I just screwed that up, didn’t I?
Bottom line is the NL East is comparable to the AL East. Even if you throw out the Orioles series (as might be fair), we’ve won 9 of 14. But we won’t throw series out. After all, the Yankees and Rays have played the O’s and those wins count towards their .612 win percentage. We’ve won 12 out of 17 games.
I’m going to go out on a limb (a very strong limb) and predict an NL East vs. AL East World Series. With a National League Champion.
Tags: AL East, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, New York Yankees, NL East Blogs, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays
Posted in General, League Analysis | 4 Comments »
During a recent conversation (via Twitter) with Phillies fans about the apparent fact – according to them – that Roy Halladay is indeed the second coming of Christ, I was reminded of just how wonderfully spirited Phillies fans can be. While I realize that trading one ace for another (Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay) makes the Phillies completely bulletproof and utterly unbeatable, I’m still clinging to faint hopes that perhaps somehow the Braves can prevent the Phils from going 162-0 this season. As Andy Dufresne once said… “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Let’s see, where were we? Oh, yes, Phillies fans.
It is out of my fondest care and affection for these most lovable of all fans that I bring you the following tribute to Phillies fanatics everywhere. Enjoy.
Tags: Audio, Philadelphia Phillies, Tribute
Posted in General | 32 Comments »
That’s right folks, you heard it here first: looks like the Braves won’t have home field advantage in the World Series this year.
The main flaw from last night’s All-Star game is that Brian McCann only got one at-bat. Let’s be honest: He’s way better than this Yadier Molina character. It’s just that, well, St. Louis fans apparently voted a lot this year because the All-Star game was in their city. So Yadier started, McCann only got one at-bat, and didn’t really get a chance to win the game for the NL. Obviously, it’s Charlie Manuel’s fault.
Our worst fears are confirmed: When the Braves make a run and outright win the NL East this year (and it will happen, mark my words), and when we sweep the Division Championship against the Cubs, and after we win the NL Championship 4-2 against the Phillies, we won’t have home field advantage in the World Series.
What are the ramifications of this, you ask? I’ll tell you:
- If you want to go to all the games, you’ll have to buy 1 (one) additional round trip plane ticket per person, as well as additional away game tickets.
- Charlie Manuel will laugh at us because he’ll think it serves us right for beating them.
- Brian McCann has a brooding hate for all things Phillies. Which is the way it should be.
- The Mets don’t care, because they’re so old they can’t contend.
In an attempt to soften the blow of the Braves not having home field advantage in the World Series and in a futile attempt to change that to “The Phillies won’t have home field advantage in the World Series,” the Phillies have signed the old and decrepid Pedro Martinez. They immediately put him on the DL. And I’m not making that up – that’s just funny.
Oh, and Yunel Escobar is apparently being shopped around. Maybe we can land a big bat after all. Maybe? Please, baseball gods, please?
Tags: All-Star Game, Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies, World Series, Yunel Escobar
Posted in General | 5 Comments »
Well, that sucked, didn’t it?! Sure, the Braves achieved their goal of winning the series in Philly. Still… that Wednesday loss stings. Badly. It was punch to the gut. No… that’s not strong enough. It was a kick to the groin. With a size-15 steel-toed boot.
This was a disgusting loss. Sickening. It was all I could do not to throw the remote through the living room window. Part of me feels that Blaine Boyer and Jorge Campillo should take turns beating the #$@%^ out of each other just to make peace with the universe after that pathetic display. (Moylan must be forgiven, under the circumstances. It was, after all, his very first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery).
That’s the bad news.
But despite the physical illness all Braves fans no doubt share after Wednesday’s bullpen meltdown, there is good news to report after this opening series. A LOT of good news, actually.
Here are some things Braves fans can take away from this opening series in Phili:
- Derek Lowe looks like he’s up for the challenge of being the new Atlanta “Ace”.
- Jair Jurrjens was very good in his start, and Javier Vazquez was solid against a tough lineup in a hitter’s park.
- Though he got off to shaky start, Mike Gonzalez settled in and closed the door in game one. He then breezed his way through hitters in game two. And Rafeal Soriano was excellent in his first appearance of the season on Tuesday. Back end of the pen looks solid.
- Brian McCann appears to be locked in, and could be headed toward a big season.
- Chipper Jones looks like he’s ready to make good on his promise to hit a few more into the seats this year (that is, when he’s in the lineup).
- How about that KID?!! There’s a long way to go, but Jordan Schafer has given us reason to think he might turn out to be a legitimate Rookie of the Year Award candidate.
- Yunel Escobar (who may have been robbed of a homerun on Tuesday) is showing some nice pop in his bat early.
- Jeff Francoeur’s game-one homer, and solid RBI single up the middle on Wednesday provide further evidence that he’s back on track.
The Braves’ offensive depth and balance was on display, proving that there are no coffee breaks in this lineup for opposing pitchers. Every single member of this lineup is a quality, professional hitter – with at least moderate power – who can hurt you. I’m not sure there’s another lineup in the league that can say the same.
And oh yeah… I suppose it is good news that the Braves did, after all, win the series on the road, even if they did throw away a sweep that was all but in their pocket.
And there’s more good news for the Braves… in the form of bad news for the Phillies. It is quite clear that the defending champs have starting pitching problems. There is a lack of depth in the Philadelphia rotation that will go from apparent to neon-lights if Cole Hamels misses any more time this season.
But the Phils aren’t alone. There is also some doubt surrounding the depth and quality of the New York Mets’ rotation, after Johan Santana. Doubts that Mets’ #2 starter, Mike Pelfrey, did nothing to alleviate Wednesday night with a lackluster performance in Cincinnati.
There are no perfect teams in the NL East. Each team has potential problems areas. Many expected offense to be a weak link in Atlanta’s game. But after getting a live look at this Braves lineup; after seeing the kinds of swings Jeff Francoeur is putting on the ball; after seeing the kind of talent (offensive and defensive) they now have roaming Center Field; and after seeing the depth and balance of this lineup… I’m not buying the notion that Atlanta is offensively challenged. I think this lineup is going to be a strength for the Braves. And decidedly so.
The offense looks good. The back end of the bullpen looks good. And unlike their two most talked about division rivals, the Braves appear rich – or at least reasonably well off – when it comes to starting pitching. That leaves middle-relief as the only apparent pothole on the post-season highway.
My point is this: If the Braves do indeed have a middle-relief problem… then they have a better problem than the one potentially facing the Mets and/or Phillies.
A middle-relief sized crack in the hull is a helluva lot easier to repair than a starting pitching sized gorge. And the Braves certainly have the trading chips, should they find it necessary to bolster the middle of their ‘pen. Also, it should be noted that, in addition to the Mets’ starting pitching challenges, they too have unanswered questions where their middle-relief is concerned.
In short, despite a game-three finish that drove me into a frenzied fit of profanity reminiscent of the furnace-fighting scene in A Christmas Story, I’ve seen enough to earnestly say… “I like the Braves chances this year.”
How about you? Good news? Bad news? Whaddya think of this team after watching them play the champs up in Philly?
Tags: Derek Lowe, Jordan Schafer, Middle Relief, Philadelphia Phillies, Starting Pitching
Posted in Game Analysis | 21 Comments »
Before today’s game starts at 3PM eastern, the Phillies will recieve their world series rings. But the Phillies haven’t played like defending World Champions in the first two games of the series – which the Braves both won as they outscored the Phils 8-1. Interestingly enough – only one defending world series team has scored fewer runs in their first two games.
Javier Vazquez and the Braves hope that the Phillies’ slumbering lumber (it rhymed, I had to do it) doesn’t awake for today’s game. Vazquez will be facing Joe Blanton, who is considerably younger than the aging Jamie Moyer and Brett Myers the Braves faced in the first two games. Vazquez is typically a fly ball pitcher – so it’ll be interesting to see how Citizens Bank Ballpark handles the Phillies’ bats and Vazquez’s style today.
Join us in this thread for some in-line game commentary and general chattiness. Feel free to jump in and offer your opinion or comment on the goings-on! Jonathan will be game-threading it and Colin will join as he is able while in and out of class this afternoon. Bring out the brooms!
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies
Posted in Game Threads | 37 Comments »