Posted: 12:08 pm Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Braves starters dominant, but need some support 

By David O'Brien

 

In the modern baseball era, you will not often see a team go through a stretch like the Braves have this past week. I refer to the fact that they had a 1.38 ERA in the past six games before Wednesday, yet only a 3-3 record in those games.

Nor will you see a pitcher named Noodles. But more on that in a moment.

The Braves allowed one or no earned runs in four of those six games before Wednesday, and three earned runs in each of the other two. All three losses were in games decided by one run, including one that went 14 innings and two that were 1-0 shutout defeats with Alex Wood starting both times.

Even Freddie Freeman has gone hitless in the past couple of games for the Braves, who were shut out 1-0 by Jose Fernandez and the Marlins on Tuesday.

Even Freddie Freeman has gone hitless in the past couple of games for the Braves, who were shut out 1-0 by Jose Fernandez and the Marlins on Tuesday. (Curtis Compton AJC photo)

Oh, yes, young Mr. Wood has had the proverbial buzzard’s luck this season. The dude from UGA is 2-3 despite a 1.54 ERA and 35 strikeouts with seven walks in 35 innings. It’s not a stretch to say he could easily be 5-0 and a candidate for NL Pitcher of the Month.

The lefty got a combined total of one run while he was in the game in his three losses, including 1-0 losses at Philly against A.J. Burnett and Tuesday night at home against the Marlins and phenom Jose Fernandez, whom I’ll say again is the best and most dynamic pitcher – not just young pitcher – in the game.

When the 21-year-old Fernandez and 23-year-old Wood combined for 25 strikeouts (without a walk) in Tuesday’s game, it was the first time that two under-24 starters each struck out more than 10 in the same game since July 31, 1901, when Cincy’s Noodles Hahn and the Cubs’ Long Tom Hughes. (Now that I think about it, safe to say we also won’t see anyone named or nicknamed “Long,” at least not formally or for publication. But anyway….)

Over the past six games we’ve seen the Braves’ all-or-nothing offense in full effect. They were shut out while totaling four hits and three hits  in the first and sixth games of that period, and they got 10 hits in 14 innings of the 4-3 loss at New York. The Braves won the three games in which they homered during that six-game span, and lost the three in which they did not.

For the season, the Braves enter Wednesday with a 12-1 record in games when they hit at least one homer, and 1-6 when they don’t.

With no runners on base, the Braves have hit .254, tied for fourth in the NL. With runners on, they’re hitting .231, third-lowest in the NL ahead of only the lowly D-backs and and Padres. With runners in scoring position, the Braves’ .215 average also is third-lowest, ahead of those same two squads.

• Improbable Big Four: After Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy went down in the spring, what would you have said if someone told you the Braves would have four starters among the NL’s top 10 in ERA three weeks into the season? Well, they do.

Four in the top 10, including NL leader Aaron Harang, who brings a 0.70 into Wednesday’s noon game against the Marlins. The others are Ervin Santana (0.86), who’s tied with Cincinnati’s Alfredo Simon for second; Wood (1.54), who is eighth, and Julio Teheran (1.80), who is 10th.

Braves starters lead the majors with a miniscule 1.50 ERA, more than a run ahead of any other team except St. Louis (2.20). There are 23 teams with starters ERAs above 3.00, including 13 teams above 4.00.

And despite some shaky bullpen work, Braves pitchers lead the majors with a 2.16 overall ERA, well ahead of second-ranked Milwaukee 2.59.

After the Braves lowered their team ERA for the fifth consecutive season in 2013, I thought there was no way they’d do it again this year. Not after losing Tim Hudson and Eric O’Flaherty, and certainly not after Medlen’s season-ending elbow injury in spring training.

Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe they can do it again. It’s way, way early, but maybe they can.

By the way, here’s how it’s come down for five consecurive seasons: From 4.56 (12th in NL) in 2008, to 3.57 (third in NL) in 2009, 3.56 (third) in 2010, 3.48 (fourth) in 2011, 3.42, (fourth) in 2012 and 3.18 (first) in 2013.

They led the majors in overall ERA and bullpen ERA (2.46) in 2013, while the starters’ ERA (3.51) was fifth in the NL.

  • Today’s matchup: It’s Harang against the Marlins’ Nathan Eovaldi in the series finale and rubber game. Harang has been the most surprising pitcher in the majors, but Eovaldi (1-1, 3.55 ERA) has been tough on the Braves. The hard-throwing righty is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA  in six career starts against ATL, including 1-0 with an 0.62 ERA in his past four.

As for Harang, what else can be said about the 35-year-old resurgent journeyman, who is 3-1 with an 0.70 ERA and has taken a no hitter through six and seven innings so far this season?

With runners on, hitters are 3-for-31 (.097) with three walks and 10 strikeouts against Harang, including 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position, with no walks and six strikeouts.  With two strikes, hitters are 1-for-47 (.021) against him, with seven walks and 22 strikeouts.

Right-handed batters aree 4-for-48 (.083) against Harang with four walks, 16 strikeouts and a .104 slugging percentage.

Against the Marlins, Harang is 5-4 with an unsightly 6.26 ERA in 13 starts, but none since 2012.

Braves lineup Wednesday

  1. Heyward RF
  2. Simmons SS
  3. Frreeman 1B
  4. Johnson 3B
  5. Doumit LF
  6. Uggla 2B
  7. Schafer CF
  8. Laird C
  9. Harang P

Let’s close with a great one from the ’80s and Marshall Crenshaw, which you can hear by clicking here. I used to always look for the cynical girls.

“CYNICAL GIRL” by Marshall Crenshaw

Well I’m goin’ out
I’m goin’ out lookin’ for a cynical girl
Who’s got no use for the real world
I’m lookin’ for a cynical girl
Well I hate TV

There’s gotta be somebody other than me MC1
Who’s ready to write it off immediately
I’m lookin’ for a cynical girl

Well I’ll know right away by the look in her eye
She harbors no illusions and she’s worldly-wise
And I’ll know when I give her a listen that she
She’s what I’ve been missin’
What I’ve been missin’
I’ll be lost in love

And havin’ some fun with my cynical girl
Who’ll have no use for the real world
I’m lookin’ for a cynical girl
Well I’m goin’ out

I’m goin’ out lookin’ for a cynical girl
Who’s got no use for the real world
I’m lookin’ for a cynical girl

Yeah I’ll know right away by the look in her eye
She harbors no illusions and she’s worldly-wise
And I’ll know when I give her a listen that she
She’s what I’ve been missin’
What I’ve been missin’
I’ll be lost in love

And havin’ some fun with my cynical girl
Who’ll have no use for the real world
I’m lookin’ for a cynical girl

 

 

1586 comments
CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Just took a gander at Rick Camp's stats. Watched every game he ever pitched in for Braves, but his stats portray a better pitcher than my feeble mind remembers. Maybe it was because the teams around him were so bad, for most part.

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

In 1921 the Braves, for example went from 23 HR's in 1920 to 61 as team in 1921. Although Ruth did manage to beat all but 8 teams in HR's all by himself in 1921 it just wasn't special anymore when the Bambino launched 59. Ha.  :-)

noleee
noleee

No.PLAYERPos.YearRuns    H.R   .R.B.I.'s    Avg.    OB %   Slg.%   Points

1Babe RuthOF   1921 177    59      171        378     512      846       5.006

2Babe RuthOF  1920  158    54      137        376     532      847       4.962

3Barry BondsOF 2001 129   73      137        328     515      863       4.909

4Barry BondsOF 2004 129   45      101        362     609      812       4.894

5Babe RuthOF   1923  151   41      131        393     545     764        4.870

6Barry BondsOF2002  117   46      110       370      582     799        4.861

7Babe RuthOF  1927   158   60     164        356     486      772        4.860

8Ted WilliamsOF1941  135   37     120       406      553     735        4.844

9Lou Gehrig1B  1927    149   47    175        373    474      765        4.829

10Jimmie Foxx1B1932   151  58     169       364     469     749        4.817

Williams was not MVP that year

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

I stand corrected. In 1920, Ruth hit 54 HR's and that was more than every other team except the Philadelphia Phillies, who managed to bang out 64 Dingers that year.  :-)

The Braves had 23 HR's in 1920.

Jeff_R
Jeff_R

Anyone else unable to get access to the blog earlier this afternoon?

ncscoots
ncscoots

Gnats 0-16 RISP last night.

I doubt that people realize just how hard it is to do that. 

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

I think Maddux is my all-time favorite pitcher. . . . :-)

Greg or Rick Camp. It's a toss-up.

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

Greg's ERA in '95 was 1.61, I think. He was so far below the MLB avg to be considered to have had the 2nd greatest season in MLB history after Ruth's 1920.

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

The other was Babe Ruth in 1920 when he hit 54 HR's which was more than every other team in MLB that season.

noleee
noleee

Who had the top two years in MLB history according to Baseball Digest and when?.WW


Bonds and Ruth?

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

Up top Luman - 

Does anyone know which two PLAYERS had the top two seasons in MLB history, when, and how this was determined by Baseball Digest?

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Last night around 10th inning, I said "Gnats due big error..")

In 12th it happened. Defense (lack thereof) is reason they're pretenders.

MFin04
MFin04

The real question is who has more rbis our pitchers or BJ Upton?

noleee
noleee

@RabbitMaranville1914  1921 it just wasn't special anymore when the Bambino launched 59. Ha.


best hitting year ever so it might be considered  kinda special....

Jeff_R
Jeff_R

@ncscoots The Curlies had a big problem with RISP last season and, thus far, this one, too. 

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

@ncscoots  

How many hits to score those 3 runs? 16 or 17, was it?

Two were HR's

Jeff_R
Jeff_R

@RabbitMaranville1914 Mine, Warren Spahn, who never pitched in Atlanta.  And I never lived in Milwaukee or Boston.  And I was but a grade schooler in Atlanta when Spahn's career ended.  Arguably the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time.   

Jeff_R
Jeff_R

@RabbitMaranville1914 Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz were a trio that will not be repeated anytime soon.  All three were pitchers, in the truest sense, particularly Maddux and Glavine.   

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

@noleee  

While you're working on that Nolie. . . Ruth's 1920 season was so far, way and above the MLB avg for Power that year that it gets the nod for Numero Uno.

Even by the very next year in 1921 the rest of MLB woke up and realized that they were now in a lively ball era unlike anything seen before.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@MFin04  BJ only has a few more PAs with men on than all our pitchers do combined.

noleee
noleee

@MFin04  

why would BJ have many ribbies? he is hitting second and the leadoff guy is hitting under 200

Jeff_R
Jeff_R

@RabbitMaranville1914 Where's Shaun?  I'm waiting for the argument that Spahn could never have cut it in the modern game.  He wasn't 6'5", 230, with a fastball touching 103 mph.  A sure loser in today's MLB.  ;-)

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

@YourWorstNightmare @RabbitMaranville1914  

Had the bat working against the Mets on July 4th, '86.

Rabbit_Maranville1914
Rabbit_Maranville1914

@ncscoots @RabbitMaranville1914  

Scoots, Greg's ERA in strike-shortened 1994 was lower when the season ended on Aug. 12th. Without looking I'm gonna say, 1.53 maybe.

MFin04
MFin04

@Rick_C @MFin04He can hit homers can't he? Heck he's got 2 RBIs and 1 homer. You'd think... you know...if he hit some more of the homers he is so good at....

MFin04
MFin04

@noleee @MFin04Our pitchers and 8th hitters have been getting on base! ;)


Nah, I think it's interesting that everyone focuses on BJ's on base, which has been terrible, but man we didn't sign him for that, it really was his power potential...which has been non-existent.


Guy just isn't slugging for squat.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@RabbitMaranville1914 @noleee  oh, but that's right.  Old Hoss Radbourn would win 59 games in today's game.  The game and the players haven't changed over time.  The majors has been consistent throughout the ages, right? 

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@RabbitMaranville1914 @noleee  Imagine what any of today's players could do if they knew better than to give in to the peer pressure of the day that said not to worry about hitting homeruns but worry more about placing the ball.  

noleee
noleee

@RabbitMaranville1914 @noleee  

yup, why that lil' midget The Mick had the 24th best ever so we know Frenchy woulda been in the top 20 at least

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@Jeff_R  Things would be tougher for him than they were in his day.  But he might have "cut it."  

Rick_C
Rick_C

@MFin04 And for the zillionth fvckin' time, we are not even a month into the season.  In 2012, 21 of his 28 HRs were after the AS break.