Posted: 4:49 pm Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Braves’ Gattis more than just raw power these days 

By David O'Brien

  DENVER – The bear is making a lot of noise these days, and Braves catcher Evan Gattis is capable of this and even more now that he’s begun to figure out some things at the plate in his second major league season.

This according to Braves hitting coach Greg Walker, who has loved seeing Gattis make recent adjustments and see immediate and significant results.

Gattis, aka El Oso Blanco – the White Bear – had three hits including a long home run in the Braves’ 13-10 slugfest win against the Rockies late Tuesday, his fifth homer in an 11-game hitting streak in which he’s batted .395 (17-for-43) with three doubles, 13 RBIs and an .814 slugging percentage.

Gattis is hitting .280 overall with 13 homers – tops among major league catchers – and 31 RBIs in 48 games. He recently made some changes designed to get him standing up a little straighter and eliminate some “side-to-side” movement in his swing, as he puts it.

Surging Braves catcher Evan Gattis circles the bases Tuesday night on one of three homers allowed by Juan Nicasio, who gave up 10 runs in the Rockies' 13-10 loss. (AP photo)

Surging Braves catcher Evan Gattis circles the bases Tuesday night on one of three homers allowed by Juan Nicasio, who gave up 10 runs in the Rockies’ 13-10 loss. (AP photo)

“Not only mechanically, physically being tall at the plate, but approach-wise,” Walker said of the adjustments. “The other day against a lefty he hit a changeup, he hit two sliders. And that’s kind of been his weakness, off-speed stuff. But with his new approach – and I don’t want to talk about it much – his thought process has made him cover more off-speed pitches.

“We don’t want to lose his strength – hitting heaters is his strength – but he’s been fun to watch lately. That’s scary when he starts covering those pitches.”

He’s been able to get to get to more pitches on the outer half of the plate and lay off more off-speed pitches and high fastballs, the stuff that pitchers had been using to strike him out ever since the scouting reports started to show the holes in his swing.

Now Gattis has his average up significantly without sacrificing any of his tremendous raw power. He’s had just 168 at-bats but leads major league catchers in home runs, and his rate of one homer every 12.9 at-bats would rank second in the National League behind Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (1/12.5) if Gattis weren’t shy of the minimum at-bats to qualify.

Florida’s Giancarlo Stanton has 17 homers in 240 at-bats, or one every 14.1 at-bats.

Gattis lined a home run about 15 rows up into the left-field seats at Coors Field on Tuesday, a ball that left the park at a frightening speed. He’s hitting .414 with three homers and nine RBIs in seven June games, and has four multi-RBI games during his 11-game hitting streak.

“He’s a joke,” said Braves third baseman Chris Johnson, who meant that as a compliment. “He’s good, man. He’s awesome. He’s so strong. His approach is getting better and better, and when he swings at strikes the ball rarely stays in the ballpark, no matter where we’re at.”

Although he’s pickup up the average significantly in recent weeks, Gattis has been quite productive for most of the season. In his past 40 games he’s hit .279 (39-for-140) with 18 extra-base hits (12 homers), 28 RBIs and a .338 OBP and .586 slugging percentage. In his past three games against the Rockies he’s 6-for-12 with three homers and six RBIs.

•  Nats are hot: The Rockies are in a freefall and the Braves need to take advantage in the last two games of the series, because the Washington Nationals are finally on the kind of roll that so many people had predicted they would eventually have.

The Braves are 6-2 in their past eight road games and 6-4 in their past 10 games overall, but they’re tied for first place with a Nats team that’s 9-2 with a 1.34 ERA in its past nine games.

Washington beat up on the Rangers, Phillies and Padres, which is no great shakes, but now they’ve taken two in a row from the Giants in San Francisco the past two nights, limiting the Giants to just three runs in two games. Now that’s impressive against the team with baseball’s best record, especially doing it against them at AT&T Park.

The Braves will sent ace Julio Teheran and Ervin Santana against the Rockies in the last two games  of the four-game series as they go for the rare four-game sweep on the road.

Atlanta is 16-3 with a .298 BA and 3.11 ERA against the Rockies since the beginning of the 2012 season, with 123 runs and 27 homers in 19 games. The Rockies have a 6.05 ERA in those games and have been out-homered 27-16, out-hit .298-.235, and outscored 123-66 by the Braves.

Injuries and losses are piling up for the Rockies, who’ve lost 11 of 12 games and have a  2-13 record and 7.03 ERA in past 15 games, beginning with a series finale loss against the Braves in Atlanta on May 25. They’ve allowed 100 earned runs in those 15 games and scored only 57 runs including 10 on Tuesday night in 13-10 loss to the Braves.

They are 1-11 with a 7.17 ERA in their past 12 games, and 1-7 with a 7.97 ERA in their past eight home games.

• Tonight’s matchup: It’s Teheran, who leads major league starts with a 1.89 ERA and ranks third with an 0.926 WHIP, against Rockies lefty prospect Tyler Matzek in his major league debut.

Matzek replaced Eddie Butler, a higher-rated Rockies prospect who was scheduled to make his second major league start but instead landed on the DL this week with shoulder soreness.

Teheran is 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA and .187 OA in his past four starts, with 27 strikeouts and five walks in 29 1/3 innings. The winning streak began after his loss at San Francisco when he had problems gripping the ball and gave up seven hits and five runs (four earned) in a career-low 3 1/3 innings. He has worked at least six innings in the other 12 of his past 13 starts.

Teheran has emerged as the unquestion ace of the rotation and presumably a lock to make the All-Star team and perhaps even be considered to start (though I would think All-Star manager Mike Matheny would be inclined to go with his own ace, Adam Wainwright, unless the timing of Waino’s rotation turn doesn’t jibe with the All-Star game).

Over his past 40 starts, Teheran is 20-11 with a 2.49 ERA and .224 opponents’ average, with 231 strikeouts and 59 walks in 260 1/3 innings. The Braves are 27-13 in those games.

He’s 3-0 with a  1.00 ERA in three career starts vs. Rockies, including eight hits and one run allowed in seven innings of his only start at Coors Field, in the second game of the April 23 icebowl doubleheader last season. The temperature never rose to 30 all day and the 23-degree reading at the first pitch of the opener made it the coldest game in MLB history.

Etc.

Chris Johnson had three hits in each of the first two games of the series and has a .381 career average (31-for-97) in 26 games against the Rockies including .459 (17-for-37) with nine RBIs in his past nine games against them, including seven multi-hit games in eight starts in the latter span….  Jason Heyward has a .299/.366/.435 slash line in his past 45 games, and .324/.384/.480 in his past 24 games…. Rookie second baseman Tommy La Stella has hit .368 (14-for-38) in his first 11 major league games with 14 singles, four RBIs, three walks, two strikeouts, and a .415 OBP. Tuesday was his sixth multi-hit game. He’s 4-for-9 with one walk with RISP, including 3-for-4 with three RBIs with RISP and two outs…. Troy Tulowitzki is 3-for-17 in five games against the Braves this season with one homer, one RBI, three walks, three strikeouts, and a .333 OBP.

• Here’s a classic from what I consider the greatest female country singer of all time, or at least right there with Loretta. Enjoy this tune from Patsy Cline.

“WALKIN’ AFTER MIDNIGHT” by Patsy Cline

I go out walkin’ after midnight
Out in the moonlight, just like we used to do
I’m always walkin’ after midnight
Searchin’ for you

I walk for miles along the highway
Well, that’s just my way of sayin’ I love you
I’m always walkin’ after midnight
Searchin’ for you

Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline

I stop to see a weepin’ willow
Cryin’ on his pillow
Maybe he’s cryin’ for me
And as the skies turn gloomy
Night winds whisper to me
I’m lonesome as I can be

I go out walkin’ after midnight
Out in the starlight, just hoping you may be
Somewhere a-walkin’ after midnight
Searchin’ for me

I stop to see a weepin’ willow
Cryin’ on his pillow
Maybe he’s cryin’ for me
And as the skies turn gloomy
Night winds whisper to me
I’m lonesome as I can be

I go out walkin’ after midnight
Out in the starlight, just hoping you may be
Somewhere a-walkin’ after midnight
Searchin’ for me

 

2211 comments
LumanHarris
LumanHarris

Lovin' the World Cup, Cobbie and QB. Best sporting event in the world. 

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Harang me, Harang me, they oughta take a rope and hang me, was a song of the week in ST...

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Wonder how many folks would have complained if I'd been posting Meatloaf videos, instead of Orianthi?

She looks better than he does, if y'all ain't noticed...

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

At the moment, on TV, I'm being shown Twins at Tigers.

Now there's a hillbilly dream-game I'm telling ya.

If they picked-out ONE game, that I wouldn't wanna see, that would be it!

chipontheroadagain
chipontheroadagain

Looks like Angels Bravos on Fox in Boston ;-) they better not preempt it for tiddilly winks are some such crappola 

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

Okay everyone.. I apologize to everyone for my snarkiness last night... I should not have come on the blog as tired as I was... I'll do better in the future... at least for those that deserve it... those that don't, well... you know who you are too.

Mixxo
Mixxo

Family are on their way to the game. Can't go....gotta work. Bring a W home guys!

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@LumanHarris

Tell me this, why not shorten the field? Why run a half dang mile between goals?

My slumber begins during the first journey from goal to goal..

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@LumanHarris I'd sooner watch little kids T-ball for 2 weeks even without knowing any of the children, Luman...  of course, you're welcome to your opinion... we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one :)

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Nothing like a good blowout with Det over Mn.

On to the World Cup! 

And call Dr Kevorkian, if he's still kickin....

VeniceJim
VeniceJim

@chipontheroadagain There is your answer - the beloved ZAZ has issued his opinion...

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@CobbBraveNightmare it's funny.. I really enjoyed the indoor version I saw in San Diego...  it was much faster paced and had an element of hockey in it... it's the outdoor version that is sleep inducing. 

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@Quicherbichin

I'd rather watch a sloth pick his nose, for hours on end, than watch one minute of useless WC! Unless there's a hooligan riot, at which time I'll tune in. But I don't wanna be disturbed until the stands are on fire...

There was a South American soccer match earlier this year, where the referee was decapitated and his head carried round on a stick.

They have some crazy ones in Europe too. Folks throwing fire-bombs at the cops in the stands. lol

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@noleee

Yes sir, but this guy took it to a whole new level, that inspired all these great guitarists we have today. Back when Clapton was considered so great, there just weren't nearly as many guitarists around. Back in the 70s, I myself, thought Clapton was good as there was, and he was at that time, but not now, not by a very long shot.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@CobbBraveNightmare okay... I liked the post and then you added that... ewww.. just ewwww.... there may be days we FEEL like doing that to umpires... but we'd never do it...  Does make a call of Skip's come to mind though... let's see if you remember it, CBN....  " And Ed Vargo has just made the worst call in the history of baseball..... "

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@Quicherbichin

I remember dat! Yeah, the head on stick thang would be a little extreme...

Don't see how anybody can stand the boredom of soccer. They should shorten the damned field, at least.

They have to run all damn day, just to get from one goal to other. If goals were facing each-other, 40-feet apart, there'd be quite a bit more scoring... Goalies would be scoring goals. lol

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@noleee

Noleee, it's fine with me that you feel that way. I have no problem with it at all. I've just been trying to enlighten you. If you're unwilling to listen, I can't do anything about it. You're my friend, no matter what you think about guitars, guitarists, music, or anything else.

And I hope I'm yours.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@CobbBraveNightmare yeah... gotta feel bad for Terry Harper that day too.... catch the ball, take 2 steps, hit the wall, drop the ball and don't get the out.


As far as soccer goes... well...  you'll never hear me shouting... " Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllll" LOL

noleee
noleee

@CobbBraveNightmare

why would I listen to you instead of the hundreds of actual real critics and players who list him in at least the top 6 or so?

just cause you claim that you know stuff?

I MIGHT buy that a bit if so many other real experts didn't disagree so strongly with you

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@noleee

Critics make no difference to me. If you got the honest opinion of basically any experienced guitarist you asked, they would agree with me, if they were being TOTALLY honest.

And those damned lists are useless. Some of the best in the history of the world, aren't even listed. I've always laughed with other guitarists about Rolling Stone lists.

Most have Kieth Richards in the top ten. He's not, and never has been, in the top 100,000.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@CobbBraveNightmare truly amazing how some people can clearly make adjustments while others cannot.  I am really enjoying watching the results of Gattis' adjustments...  BOOM!

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@Quicherbichin

Me too man. Gattis and Harang are kinda my favorite Braves this year. Gattis is a damned brute.

I admire the Hell out of Harang, just for still having the fire, after some rough times before coming here. He's what I call a ML professional pitcher, with the moxie to get the job done.

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

If Harang is traded, I'm going on a one-man, one-game, boycott. Shall not watch or listen!

I started to boycott when he got here, but that wuzza different story.

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@Quicherbichin

We've already gotten FAR more from him than I ever expected in my wildest damned dreams. I still believe something happened last year, prior to (or after) his trade, and subsequent last four starts for Mutts, where he absolutely shined. He just took-up where he left-off, when he arrived here.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@CobbBraveNightmare i totally agree, CBN.... totally. Whatever it is, I'm glad he's a Brave and glad he figured it out! Now if only he could figure out a way to make our bullpen pitchers pitch better.... I am afraid last year is in Carpenter's head now.

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@Quicherbichin

I know, our pen can be scary at times. 

Hopefully they'll put a few good ones together and get back on track. Pens are really up-n'-down sometimes, ebbing and flowing until finally getting untracked. I'd hold off on any trades till I figured out if that's the case.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@CobbBraveNightmare definitely been scary of late....  hmm. Maybe the answer is just to have the starter go 7...  unless he's having an off day, pitch-wise.