Posted: 4:03 pm Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

S. Simmons has quickly become a key guy in Braves pen 

By David O'Brien

 DENVER – When Shae Simmons struck out Troy Tulowitzki, the major league leader in batting average, OBP and slugging percentage, to end a perfect eighth inning Monday, it was just the 11th time that Tulo struck out in 28 games this season at Coors Field, where he was batting a ridiculous .500 before the Rockies’ 3-1 series-opening loss to the Braves.

It was yet another feather in the cap of Simmons, a hard-throwing, undersized rookie reliever who has surpassed all reasonable expectations since arriving from Double-A just over a week ago and being thrust immediately into high-pressure situations with games on the line.

Shae Simmons has only been in the big leagues for 1 1/2 weeks, but is quickly establishing himself as a go-to guy in the Braves bullpen. (AP Photo)

In six appearances the right-hander has already recorded four holds and a save, while limiting opponents to three hits and one walk with four strikeouts in 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

“Oh, yeah, he’s impressive,” lefty reliever Luis Avilan said. “He’s been really good. He’s going to be really good for us.”

What had been a shaky bridge this season between Braves starters and relievers has been a bit sturdier since the Braves added Simmons and immediately threw him into the deep end to sink or swim

“He’s a stud,” Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said. “He’s got good stuff, man. He throws hard, and the good thing about him is, he’s not afraid to go after anybody. Tulo, in my opinion, is one of the best players in baseball, and he went right after him. That was pretty cool to watch.”

Simmons announced his arrival in auspicious fashion when he was brought into a game against the Marlins on May 31, only hours after arriving in Miami, with two runners on base and two out in the eighth inning and the Braves clinging to a one-run lead after two runs had already scored in the inning.

He struck out the only batter he faced, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, to end the inning.

A day later, Simmons gave up two hits and a walk in the ninth inning but escaped without damage to record his first major league save. In four appearances since he’s given up just one hit and no walks in three innings, none of them in garbage time.

He’s already established himself as a go-to guy for the Braves in high-leverage situations, 1 ½ weeks into his major league career.

Opponents are 3-for-15 against Simmons with four strikeouts and one walk, including 1-for-10 with no walks with runners on base, and 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

“He’s only been with us for a week or two weeks, so you don’t know what kind of kid he is,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Monday’s win. “But it seems like these situations don’t rattle him. Coming to Coors Field to face two of the established premier hitters in the major leagues, and get them both out — that was probably the cleanest inning we had all night.”

  • Tulo tall tales: Monday also marked just the second time in 28 home games that Tulowitzki failed to reach base, and only the third time he went hitless. He had an 0-for-2 with two walks against the Giants on April 21, and 0-for-4’s against the Giants on May 21 and last night against the Braves. And that’s it. Hits in every other home games.

Monday’s 0-for dropped his home average by 20 points, from an jaw-dropping .500 to a jaw-dropping .480 (49-for-102). Tulowitzki has a .550 OBP and .902 slugging perecentage at Coors Field, and as we mentioned before, just 11 strikeouts.

In 33 road games, he’s hit .234 with a .346 OBP, .458 slugging percentage and 26 strikeouts.

Braves vs. Rockies: After their 3-1 win in the series opener Monday, the Braves are 15-3 with a 2.74 ERA against the Rockies since the beginning of the 2012 season. In that span the Braves have out-hit the Rockies .290-.227, out-homered them 24-15, and outscored them 110-56.

   The Rockies, after going 16-6 in their first 22 home games this season with a .350 batting average, 4.07 ERA and 38 homers, are seriously banged up now, losing players left and right to injuries, and in freefall:  1-7 with a .263 BA, 6.63 ERA and eight homers in their past eight home games (and three of those homers came in one game).

The Braves got the Rockies started on their current descent when they took two of three from them May 23-25 in Atlanta. Injuries have fueled the ongoing slide. Beginning with a loss in that  series finale, the Rockies have gone 2-12 with a 6.58 ERA and only 47 runs in their past 14 games, scoring two runs or fewer in half of those games and giving up six or more runs in nine of the 14.

 • Tonight’s matchup: Mike Minor (2-4, 3.07 ERA) faces Juan Nicasio (5-4, 4.68), a Rockies right-hander who has struggled mightily in recent starts but beat the Braves a couple of weeks ago.

Minor is 2-2 with a 1.87 ERA and .195 opponents’ average in his past five starts, all quality starts including three in which he gave up one or no runs in 6 2/3 or seven innings. The Braves scored no runs while he was in either of his past two losses.

The lefty is 1-0 with 0.66 ERA in two road starts this season.

He’s 3-1 with a 4.02 ERA in five starts against the Rockies, including 1-0 in two starts at Coors Field despite a 9.00 ERA. Minor allowed 10 hits and eight runs in five innings of a May 2012 start at Coors (no decision in a Braves win), and gave up five hits and three runs in six innings of a win in April 2013.

Nicasio is 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA and .426 opponents’ average in his past two starts, at Cleveland and at home against the Diamondbacks. He gave up nine hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Indians, and was rocked for 11 hits, seven runs and two homers in 5 1/3 innings against Arizona hitters.

He’s 3-1 with a 4.69 ERA in seven home starts, including 0-1 with an 8.74 ERA and four homers allowed in his past two.

Nicasio is 1-3 with a 7.40 ERA in five starts against the Braves, but he beat them May 24 in Atlanta while allowing just two hits and four walks in six scoreless innings.

  Left-handed batters have feasted at a .323 clip (40-for-124) against him with 17 extra-base hits, 13 walks, 13 strikeouts and a .384 OBP and .573 slugging percentage (righties .245/.284/.446), and he’s given up eight homers in 40 1/3 innings over seven home starts.

The Braves went 2-for-20 against him last month with one extra-base hit (double) and a .150 slugging percentage, his lowest opponents’ average and slugging percentage this season against any team. Six of the other nine teams he’s faced this season have hit above .300 against him.

  Freddie Freeman is 5-for-9 with three homers, seven RBIs, four walks and a .714 OBP against Nicasio. Justin Upton is 4-for-8 against him, Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer are each 5-for-11, and Chris Johnson is 4-for-11.

Here’s a great one from one of the best and most underrated songwriters alive, Tom Russell. Saw him at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur a couple of times, and the man puts on a great show.

“TONIGHT WE RIDE” by Tom Russell

Pancho Villa crossed the border in the year of ought sixteen
The people of Columbus still hear him riding through their dreams
He killed seventeen civilians you could hear the women scream
Blackjack Pershing on a dancing horse was waiting in the wings

Tonight we ride, tonight we ride
We’ll skin ole Pancho Villa, make chaps out of his hide
Shoot his horse, Siete Leguas, and his twenty-seven bride
Tonight we ride, tonight we ride

We rode for three long years till Blackjack Pershing called it quits

Tom Russell

Tom Russell

When Jackie wasn’t lookin’ I stole his fine spade bit
It was tied upon his stallion, so I rode away on it
To the wild Chihuahuan desert, so dry you couldn’t spit

Tonight we ride, you bastards dare
We’ll kill the wild Apache for the bounty on his hair
Then we’ll ride into Durango, climb up the whorehouse stairs
Tonight we ride, Tonight we ride

When I’m too damn old to sit a horse, I’ll steal the warden’s car
Break my ass out of this prison, leave my teeth there in a jar
You don’t need no teeth for kissin’ gals or smokin’ cheap cigars
I’ll sleep with one eye open, ‘neath God’s celestial stars

Tonight we rock, tonight we roll
We’ll rob the Juarez liquor store for the Reposado Gold
And if we drink ourselves to death, ain’t that the cowboy way to go?

Tonight we ride, tonight we ride
Tonight we fly, we’re headin’ west
Toward the mountains and the ocean where the eagle makes his nest
If our bones bleach on the desert, we’ll consider we are blessed
Tonight we ride, Tonight we ride

Tonight we ride, tonight we ride.

 

1027 comments
ncscoots
ncscoots

So much for the bad hammy, LOL. Younger saw "rook lefty" penciled in, and miraculously healed.

ncscoots
ncscoots

Braves against a lefty tonight, be interesting to see if the manager gives La Stella a start. Matzek has a history of control problems, which would seem to play up for La Stella. Bad game for Younger to miss, but tough noogies.

DoogieBlauserMD
DoogieBlauserMD

Braves win the WS in 6 games against the Astros. 


Bet on it.

DS1
DS1

Did we get a lineup yet?

VaBravesFan
VaBravesFan

Crazy game last night from what I'm seeing. How is Justin? Possible DL stint?

ncscoots
ncscoots

Maybe they "shouldn't miss any" but it happens to everyone, even the best.

Gripes about a player's defense have a correlation of 0.96 to BA. :-)

Clint_Reno
Clint_Reno

Nats beat Giants. Giants beat Braves. 



Can't wait for the playoffs!

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Satin Sheets to lie on

Satin Pillers to cry on

Still, I ain't happy, don't you seeeeeeeee

Big, long, Cadillacs

Tailor-mades, across my back

Still, I want you, to set me freeeeeeee

noleee
noleee

McCutch did much the same thing, when metrics hated him he was weak going back,and strong shallow, he plays deeper since 2011  and is ranked much higher

EMWTK
EMWTK

I don't worry about BJ's ability, I worry about his execution.

A good example of his play last night: He cuts off a ball in the R-C gap. The runner is stretching it to a double, so BJ wheels a 180, throws against his momentum, but still manages to throw the ball on top of the bag, where Simmons tags out the runner. Great play.

Later, there's a single hit right to him with a runner at 2nd. BJ winds up and pegs the throw into the back of the pitcher's mound. Ugly, ugly.

He's just a box of chocolates out there.

Bat_Masterson
Bat_Masterson

Last night was further proof that anyone who bitches about teams breaking an "unwritten rule" by continuing to steal, etc. when they're up five or six runs should be stoned. _ Larvel 

It blows my mind we live in a world where people still do that to other people, Larvel. 

noleee
noleee

ala Bill James Bj is -7 shallow, +5 mid and +12 deep for by far his best year ever

that is indeed pretty opposite of how he p[layed for the Rays

MFin04
MFin04

Probably just a preliminary lineup. Gattis moved up to fourth because of Justin's injury it appears.

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@ncscoots .....................looked like the Rockies  pitcher had a lot of control issues last night..........problems about controlling his joy at shutting the Brave's down!

Lemke_Knuckler
Lemke_Knuckler

Albert Pujols, Frank Thomas, Ryan Braun had better numbers than both of those guys through their first 550 games.  I'm sure there's at least a dozen others.

monty1
monty1

@Rick_C Considering Hank was 6 inches shorter and 80 lbs. lighter, makes his feat al the more impressive.

MFin04
MFin04

Mike Stanton just needs to play to 45 and he will set the homer record

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@DoogieBlauserMD ...........................I bet you could get some real good odds...........how about the odds of 4 to 5 on BJ Upton batting under .200 when the season hits August..........now that is the most sure thing you can bet on isn't it???????????

Rick_C
Rick_C

@VeniceJim Damn, right before they see the Nats.  Derrick Goold says it's not his UCL though.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@VaBravesFan Just day to day for now.  Was expecting to miss the rest of the series I think.

ncscoots
ncscoots

@Clint_Reno Natalies have been en fuego for at least a couple of weeks, and still have yet to achieve better than a tie for first. The inevitable cool-off will probably then bury them.

MFin04
MFin04

Probably got wore out being on base so much for the Rays. Now he has more energy to use in the field!

MFin04
MFin04

So he does suck at shallow balls? I was right about something for once!? ;)

Must be that moneyball movie I was researching.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@Lemke_Knuckler You're probably right, but I thought it was a pretty interesting coincidence that they matched in OBP and SLG.

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@monty1 @Rick_C ...................I am glad Hank was a good baseball player because he sure makes a lousy scout...............the Brave's supposedly relied on his recommendation of BJ Upton......................now if that's true he sure messed that one up didn't he??? 

Lemke_Knuckler
Lemke_Knuckler

@Rick_C   Derrick Goold is in denial, has his face buried in a pillow as we speak.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@DS1 I'd guess

Heyward

BJ

Freeman

Gattis

Doumit

CJ

La Stella

Simmons

Maybe Doumit down a spot or two.


Rick_C
Rick_C

@MFin04 When he came here, I wondered if it might help him playing on real turf.  Sure enough, last year he had one of his better defensive seasons, and this year is looking to be his best.

noleee
noleee

@MFin04

suck may be too strong, but this year it is his weakest zone. previously it was strong, which means that he changed how deep he plays, he is playing deeper now

the advantage to that is if you miss a shallow one it is usually a single, if you miss a deep one it is a double or triple

noleee
noleee

@Rick_C @noleee

not runs saved that is separate 

Fielding Bible Runs Saved A companion to the Fielding Bible Plus/Minus profile, this profile displays a detailed breakdown of a player's defensive skills, as evaluated by the actual runs saved or allowed by the fielder, compared to the average. 

Each position is evaluated differently. Pitchers are evaluated by their plus/minus runs saved and stolen base runs saved. Catchers are evaluated by their pitcher handling earned runs saved and stolen base runs saved. Corner infielders, middle infielders and outfielders each have a plus/minus runs saved score based on their range in the field. Corner infielders also have a bunt runs saved score, while middle infielders have a double plays runs saved score. Outfielders have an arms score and a home run saving catches score.

Fielding Bible Plus/Minus A sophisticated fielding profile, as presented in John Dewan’s The Fielding Bible Volume II. It includes Plus/Minus, which represents the number of plays the player made above/below the number that an average fielder would make, according to the video scouts at Baseball Info Solutions. We also rate corner infielders for their handling of bunts, middle infielders for their work on the double play, and outfielders for how often they have thrown out baserunners ("Kills") and how often they have allowed them to take the extra base. "Rank" shows the player’s ranking in a particular category among qualifying players at his position (usually around 30).

 Fielding Bible has BJ  with 5 runs saved so far and ranked 7th in CF.again his best ever

monty1
monty1

@ncscoots @monty1 @Rick_C  I see Hank as one of those guys who weighed 180 and could win the arm wrestling championship, against the guys almost twice his  size.  Then again Jimmy Wynn might have been the strongest pound for pound.

DS1
DS1

@Rick_C @DS1 Would Mr Frodo be so bold as to move TLS up to #2 and bring BJ down?

Jason/TLS/FF/Gattis/CJ/BJ/Doumit/Simba??

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@DS1 @Rick_C .................it's harder to bring BJ down further than he already is...........But I would have him no higher than the 3rd pinch hit option!

Rick_C
Rick_C

@DS1 If he does, he's not gonna put all 3 LHB in a row.  I know that much.

MFin04
MFin04

Not a chance. But one could hope!