Posted: 12:32 pm Monday, September 1st, 2014

Braves slip, slide, surge to .500 mark in August 

By David O'Brien

They lurched, they slid, they soared a bit. August was quite a month for the Braves, topsy-turvy at times and utterly impossible to figure out from one week to the next.

In other words, it was a month much like their season as a whole.

Alex Wood, who had 12 strikeouts with no walks in eight shutout innings Sunday, helped the Braves post the second-best ERA in the NL in August.

Alex Wood, who had 12 strikeouts with no walks in eight shutout innings Sunday, helped the Braves post the second-best ERA in the NL in August.

And that’s why they are six games behind Washington in the NL East with 25 games to play. They are still very much in the playoff picture, just 1 ½ games behind for the second wild-card spot. Of course, the Braves did not come into the season aiming for a wild-card berth and the prospect of playing one winner-take-all game to earn the right to play an actual postseaseon series.

With six games left against the Nats, they’ve not given up their division-title goal. But the Braves can’t afford to merely split four-game series and win three game series 2-1, and pin all their hopes on winning five or six out of six against Washington. Not the way the Nats are playing. Got to start sweeping some teams if the Braves have any shot at all of catching the Nats.

They’d never say it, but the Braves’ best playoff shot would be to win a wild-card berth and have the Nats keep winning the way they have to maintain the best record in the NL, which would then force a potential matchup with the Braves in the first round of the postseason if the Braves won the Wild Card game.

Because whether or not the Braves are better than the Nats, they certainly believe they can beat them, because they usually do. And the Nats certainly have let the Braves get in their noggins the past couple of seasons.

Tell me, whom would you rather the Brave face in a best-of-season series, the Nats or the Dodgers? Absolutely right. Bring on the Nats.

Anyway, the Braves went 14-14 in August despite posting a 3.02 ERA, second-lowest in the National League. These things can happen when you hit .249 and score 99 runs in 28 games, as Atlanta did for the month. Again, much like their season in general.

They started August with five straight losses and finished the month by going 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA and .272 batting average in their last five games, although 11 of their 15 runs in that five-game period came in two games. They scored a total of one run over the weekend in two games against the Marlins.

The month began with the Braves three games into an 0-8 road trip, the team’s worst excursion in 65 years. They went 14-9 with a 2.59 ERA the rest of the month, batting .256 with 23 homers and 88 runs in those 23 games.

The Bravos had a .500 record for the month because they played shoddy defense in a few games, but mostly because they scored 99 runs for the  month, third-lowest scoring output in the league, ahead of only the Dbacks and Mets. Four NL teams scored more than 120 runs in August, led by the Giants (136) and Nationals (135).

Ah, the Nationals. They took control of the NL East race by posting a 19-10 record, with a league-best 2.95 ERA. Next were the Braves with their 3.02 ERA, then Padres, who had the third-best ERA (3.21) and a 16-11 record in August.

The Padres actually outscored the Braves during the month, 102-99. If someone had told you a couple of months ago that the Padres, with their lineup and their ballpark and their going-nowhere status, would outscore the Braves during a crucial month of a playoff race….

• Monthly superlatives: Surprising rookie infielder Phil Gosselin had a team-best .364 average (16-for-44) in August, with two extra-base hits, a .391 OBP and two RBIs in 19 games.

 

Jason Heyward was one of the trio of Braves, along with Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman, who carried the bulk of the offensive load in August. (Curtis Compton photo/AJC)

Jason Heyward was one of the trio of Braves, along with Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman, who carried the bulk of the offensive load in August. (Curtis Compton photo/AJC)

Among Braves who had at least 60 at-bats for the month, Freddie Freeman led the way with a .330 average (34-for-103) and had 11 extra-base hits (two homers), 10 RBIs and a .444 OBP and .476 slugging percentage in August, while Jason Heyward hit .321 (34-for-106) with eight extra-base hits (two homers), 12 RBIs, a .368 OBP and .443 slugging percentage.

However, there’s no question who had the most productive month among Braves hitters: Justin Upton hit .291 (30-for-103) with 13 extra-base hits including seven homers, a league-leading 28 RBIs, a .383 OBP and a .563 slugging percentage. Only Detroit Victor Martinez (30) and Houston’s Chris Carter (29) had more RBIs in August, while Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton (eight) was the only NL hitter with more homers than Upton for the month.

Both Upton and Stanton tailed off at the end of the month, with Upton going 7-for-32 (.219) with one homer and five RBIs in his last eight games and Stanton going 2-for-18 with no homers, one RBI and 10 strikeouts in his last five games.

Upton and Freeman led the Braves with 16 runs apiece in August, and Heyward had 15. Between the three of them, they accounted for 47 of the Braves’ 99 runs and 50 of their 95 RBIs. Think about that.

Besides Upton, the only other Brave to hit more than two homers in August was Evan Gattis, who hit .230 (20-for-87) with four homers, nine RBIs, four walks and 30 strikeouts, for a .277 OBP and .425 slugging percentage.

 • Teheran vs. Hamels today: The Labor Day, Braves vs. Phillies series-opening matchup is a beauty, with Julio Teheran (13-9, 2.90) facing Phillies lefty Cole Hamels (7-6, 2.59), the epitome of how unreliable the won-lost record can be when evaluating pitching performance.

Teheran is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA and .177 opponents’ average in his past three starts, after going 2-4 with a 5.24 ERA and .300 opponents’ average over his previous seven starts.

He’s 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA and .203 opponents’ average in 13 home starts, compared to 8-7 with a 3.82 ERA and .253 OA in 15 road starts)

Looking at his entire body of work this season, here’s another stat that stands out: In the late innings of close games, Teheran has allowed a stingy .167 average (9-for-54) with one extra-base hit, one RBI, four walks a .224 OBP, .222 slugging percentage.

Both Teheran and Hamels have been dominant against today’s opponent. Teheran is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season, with only three runs (two earned) allowed in 24 innings.

Meanwhile, Hamels is 1-0 with an 0.64 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season, with only one run allowed in 14 innings,  and 15 strikeouts with two walks.

Phillies hitters are just 13-for-84 (.155) against Teheran this season, with two extra-base hits, no walks, 19 strikeouts, a .155 OBP and a .214 slugging percentage.  In seven career games (six starts) against Philly, he’s 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA and .199 opponents’ average.

Against Teheran, Jimmy Rollins is 5-for-19 with a homer, Chase Utley is 5-for-16 with four strikeouts, Marlon Byrd is 2-for-14 with five strikeouts, and Ryan Howard is 3-for-12 with two homers.

Hamels is 6-3 with a 1.90 ERA in 17 starts since the beginning of June, and the Phillies have scored two or fewer runs while he was in the game in 10 of those 17 outings. He has 114 strikeouts and 32 walks in 118 2/3 innings over those 17 starts and has been a model of consistency in that stretch, never allowing more than three runs.

While he’s 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break, Hamels is just 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA and .307 opponents’ average in his past four starts, and gave up eight or nine hits and three runs in each of his past three starts, with five or fewer strikeouts in each.

Hamels has an ERA that’s nearly 50 percent lower on the road than at home. He’s 4-4 with a 1.76 ERA and two homers allowed in 12 road starts, compared to 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and nine homers allowed  in 12 home starts.

Against the Braves, the veteran lefty is 15-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 33 games (32 starts), including 3-0 with a 1.16 ERA and .165 opponents’ average in his past four going back to Aug. 12 of last season. Hamels has 33 strikeouts and five walks in 31 innings over those past four starts against them, including three nine-strikeout games.

Against Hamels, Evan Gattis is  3-for-6 with two homers, Freddie Freeman is 9-for-39 with two homers and 14 strikeouts, Chris Johnson is 7-for-20, Emilio Bonifacio is 8-for-26, and Justin Upton is 9-for-29 with a homer and nine strikeouts. Among the Braves who’ve struggled against the lefty: Jason Heyward is 7-for-31 with eight strikeouts, Andrelton Simmons is 1-for-14, and B.J. Upton is 0-for-17 with five strikeouts.

• Let’s close with a gem from a really good, very underrated singer and songwriter, Lincoln Durham. Check this one out by clicking here.

“ANNIE DEPARTEE” by Lincoln Durham

Lincoln Durham

Lincoln Durham

This here’s a song about a girl who can’t seem to quit killing men
Annie lay your six-guns down
Lest you find you’re six foot underground
Put on your rouge, powder your nose
Hide your bow-legs under knee-high hoes
You done shot a man, girl

One, two, three, put him out of misery
Four, five, six, just to please them wicked kicks
You been burning powder
You better burn the breeze
Forever legend as Annie Departee

Annie lay your six-guns down
You’ve been spreading lead all over town
Better take your black hat and paint it white
‘Fore a buscadero puts you in his sights
You done shot a man

 

 

1381 comments
patriotdog
patriotdog

I'd trade Bethancourt, Justin and JHey. Gattis'lack of D is less hurtful than Christian's lack of O. Justin is too streaky, and I might change my mind on trading him. JHey, I like but he's a great trade piece. BJ has to go, along with Doumit.

DOB
DOB moderator

In the Braves’ past 15 games, Freddie Freeman has two extra-base hits (no homers), one RBI, and a .294 slugging percentage. He’s hit .255 (13-for-51) with 14 walks, 20 strikeouts and a .433 OBP in that span.

MFin04
MFin04

Hit BJ third and hope he gets hot and carries us...

skeeterN
skeeterN

It's Sept 2nd and alot of comments are about off season trading.......hmmmm what conclusion can I draw from this?  Stick a fork in it, it done, it's a wrap??  


Oh well, the dirty birds will be teeing it up 1:00 pm sharp.......9-7-14, exactly three weeks before Bravos turn out the lights.

VaBravesFan
VaBravesFan

If you don't dump BJ, don't even think about trading Gattis, unless were blown away with an offer.

EMWTK
EMWTK

The wisdom of Mark Bradley this morning is that Gattis is traded for an outfielder. It was not clear if said outfielder is intended to replace BJ (who Bradley also sees as gone) or Jason or JUp.


_Murph_
_Murph_

Scherzer, Lester, Shields... the Braves will end up with one of 'em.  

Right?

VaBravesFan
VaBravesFan

If we dangled Jason on the trade market just about any high money team or contending team would have interest.

EMWTK
EMWTK

 I'm not sure what to believe on the Gattis stuff. What does this lineup look like with his bat?

We got a look at that yesterday afternoon. I recall it being a disappointment.


_Murph_
_Murph_

It'll be real interesting to see how the team responds tonight.  Was yesterday just another loss, or did it cut deeper than anyone is willing to admit?  

Do they still have some fight left in them or will they go belly-up?

Lew06
Lew06

Just saw a report that the Boston Herald is calling for the Red Sox to trade for Heyward this winter.


Should be a fun offseason for sure.

MFin04
MFin04

Starting pitching next year is about as worrisome as the production in CF...

Julio Teheran

And...

Umm...

Ummm...

Ummmm...

And you know Julio is a year or two away from his first TJ surgery...

Double down
Double down

Info provided earlier seems to show disappointing years from prime pitching prospects Hursh, Sims, Graham and Cabrera. Teredo also seemed to regress.

Efrim
Efrim

I'm not sure what to believe on the Gattis stuff. What does this lineup look like with his bat? What could they get back from an AL team for 4 years of his control? Would have to be worth it both with prospects and major league talent. Offensive catches like him aren't around much and he is at least passable with the glove.

Braves do need 2 starters. And Cody Martin and David Hale should not be in consideration, IMO. Maybe that's what they ask for. Straight up hitter for pitcher similar to all those deadline deals we saw.

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@MFin04

And pray to Gawd that a 10-lb gold nugget falls in your lap, just when you've covered it with Kevlar Body Armor...

VaBravesFan
VaBravesFan

@skeeterN We can talk about being no hit instead? Or that we've played what sub 500 ball since April or that we've managed to only go 6-6 the last 12 with a ERA in the low 2s... 

MFin04
MFin04

Well the dirty birds are less likely to do better than the Braves.. soo...yeh...

MFin04
MFin04

Gattis is an outfielder....

And its ridiculous trading our highest paid free agent outfielder for an outfielder...what a giant screw up that was...wow!!!

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@MFin04

And screw them, every one...

Sorry fer my language Sistahs...

MFin04
MFin04

The cheapest...crappiest...one...

D Lowe part two...

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@VaBravesFan

Trading proven guys is scary to me. You never know what the other team/player is holding-back. I believe we got damaged goods with Bruce Sutter, and maybe even Esasky, but they were FAs.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@VaBravesFan The problem with trading Heyward or Justin is they aren't likely to get equal value that could help them contend in 2015, which seems like is something they want to do.  You only get one year of team control for either one of those guys.  

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

I think every team in the Majors would have interest in Justin, Gattis and Heyward along with Freeman, Simmons and Kimbrel. Doesn't mean the Braves will trade any of them.

MFin04
MFin04

Gattis can't hit Hamels... ;-)

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

Well, I think the placement of Laird in the line up would not be seen in future Braves seasons. So, we don't really know what it looks like unless you go back to the Bethancourt call up week.

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

Phils are tough now that Mayberry has been traded.

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

Boston called for trading for Salty when he was still a Brave. Seems the Boston region believes any and all players on other teams should be RedSox and if they aren't it's because other people aren't smart.

_DAP_
_DAP_

@MFin04 ha! no. SP is something that needs attention, but as worrysome as CF? no way.

Efrim
Efrim

Alex Wood and Mike Minor?

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@Double down Anything they got from Terdoslavich was going to be gravy anyway.  He was never a highly touted prospect.  In the minors he OPSed .720 in 2011 and .722 in 2014.  Most thought he was a bench bat in the majors, at best, even when he was getting some attention a couple years ago.

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@Efrim

We're not gonna get as much for Gattis as folks think. Track-record not long enough. It'd be better to hold onto him since we'd have control for so long. If he has a good year next year, he'll be worth much more.

VaBravesFan
VaBravesFan

@Efrim If we could land a top FA pitcher like Lester, then we would likely have to consider Hale, Martin, or resigning a vet like Harang for final spot.

MFin04
MFin04

The dude just hasn't been challenged enough.

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

Well Payne, if Wren is heading into 2015 with Minor, Wood, Teheran along with Hursh and co, the "value for contending" will be moot.

VaBravesFan
VaBravesFan

@ShaunATL @VaBravesFan Only way to get true big value for them is if a team can have a sign and trade in place. If either is willing to sign that long term deal with the team it makes a ton of difference. Kinda how the DBacks set that up with Prado. 

_Murph_
_Murph_

@ShaunATL @VaBravesFan Well, you get one year of control plus an exclusive period of negotiation with them.... PLUS you get compensated if you cannot extend them beyond that one year in the form of a pick.

So, you get a little bit more than just a one-and-done scenario.

MFin04
MFin04

Or SHOULD trade them...

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@MFin04

Who can?

Cept me, of course, who woulda killed his @ss 20-years ago on a Whiffle Ball field..

Lew06
Lew06

@TennesseePaul Well, maybe so, but they DID end up getting Salty - though not from the Braves - so maybe there was actual interest?

MFin04
MFin04

They were talking of dealing Minor...

And everyone knows Alex is just a bullpen arm...(sarcasm)

Ok so two of five....

MFin04
MFin04

I like what Hale did to start the year...

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@MFin04

If I were Dictator he'd be challenged. Trip to Mars would give him time to reflect on his remarkably shabby career.

EMWTK
EMWTK

@TennesseePaul Wouldn't shock me to see them offer Santana a deal. What would you think about that?

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@_Murph_ @ShaunATL @VaBravesFan Well, I don't think a team is likely to give up a player that can help them or the Braves in 2015 for one season of Heyward or Justin plus a possible compensation pick, if he doesn't re-sign.  


I doubt the exclusive negotiation period comes into play that much.  The team still has to re-sign the player, whether there's an exclusive period or not.  And the player is probably not going to give a team much of a break just because the team has exclusive negotiating rights for a time.

MFin04
MFin04

Oh he could hit one out from the dugout.. he's got the power... :D

TennesseePaul
TennesseePaul

I'm sure there was interest. But if the Salty saga is any prelude, it would seem to imply the Braves will trade Heyward to some other team for a big bat, and then several years down the road he'll be in Boston. It just won't be a direct path. ( :