One word to describe the Braves in 2012 is streaky. For good and bad, so far the Braves seem to be grouping their wins and their losses. Heading into a 3-game series with the Blue Jays, the Braves had won 4 straight. They added to that streak by taking the first 2 from the Jays, but ended their 6-game winning streak with Sunday’s loss.
Several roster moves occured as the Braves returned to Atlanta to take on the Blue Jays. After one rehab outing at Rome, Chipper Jones returned to the big league club. Jose Constanza went back to Triple-A to make room for Chipper. Tim Hudson was nursing a sore ankle and missed his start, thus Julio Teheran was called up for a spot start. Hudson anticipates making his next start on Wednesday. J.C. Boscan, who you’ll remember was called up when David Ross suffered a minor groin injury, was sent down to make way for Teheran. After the 10-inning game to open the series, Gonzalez was hoping to avoid using O’Flaherty and Venters out of the ‘pen, so young Randall Delgado was sent to the ‘pen in the event of an emergency. Fortunately, Tommy Hanson pitched an impressive 8 inning gem and Craig Kimbrel recorded the save. It’s unclear who will go down when Kris Medlen is ready to return, but this weekend’s bullpen adventures may require that two go down so Medlen and a reliever can come up.
About those bullpen adventures… For whatever reason, Fredi Gonzalez stuck with his long man, Livan Hernandez last night and the result was disastrous. Julio Teheran pitched 4 beautiful innings before the wheels fell off. Instead of bringing in a reliever to get out of the jam and then use his long man, Gonzalez went with Hernandez immediately and Livan allowed 3 of the runs attributed to Teheran to score as well as proceeded to allow 5 earned runs on 7 hits. After the Livan trainwreck, Cristhian Martinez came out of the ‘pen and allowed 6 hits and 3 earned runs in a longer outing than long-man Livan’s. The least damage occurred on the watch of Chad Durbin who worked a scoreless inning.
The Braves offense may be heating up again and the rotation may fall into piece in the coming weeks, but the bullpen needs help. That Craig Kimbrel has been lights out of late is one of the few highlights of the ‘pen. With no solid timetable for Peter Moylan’s return and Kris Medlen moving to the rotation, a decision will have to be made soon about who comes up from Triple-A and what the Braves do with Livan Hernandez who had allowed 10 hits, 2 runs in 14 1/3 innings pitched over 11 appearances between 4/28-5/25 and has now allowed 13 hits, 9 runs, and 3 homers in 4 2/3 innings pitched in 2 appearances since 5/25.
While Martin Prado continues to be the most consistent hitter on the team and Michael Bourn keeps proving why he was an excellent pick-up for the Braves at last year’s trade deadline, the Braves can also celebrate the production of Dan Uggla (both in hits and an ungodly number of walks) and glimpses of the old Jason Heyward who scored the walk-off run on a throwing error in the 10th inning of game one of the series.
PLAYING HOST TO THE BRONX BOMBERS…
The Braves welcome the New York Yankees for a 3-game set at Turner Field. The series begins, of course, on a dreaded Monday. The Braves remains winless on Mondays this season, an inexplicable 0-8 record. This stat has to be in their head by now. It’s time for the team to get over their bad case of the Mondays.
Monday: Nova (7-2, 5.09) vs. Delgado (4-5, 4.26)
Tuesday: Sabathia (7-3, 3.69) vs. Minor (3-4, 6.57)
Wednesday: Kuroda (5-6, 3.46) vs. Hudson (4-2, 3.83)
There was one major change to the pitching schedule in the Toronto series that happened late: Tim Hudson was scratched and Julio Teheran was plugged in for a spot start. That change pushes Huddy back to Wednesday and Beachy will then be pushed back a day or two for the next series. There’s been no word on whether or not Minor will in fact make the start against Sabathia Tuesday, but for now he remains on the schedule.
With one of the most feared lineups in baseball, the Yankees will prove daunting for young Randall Delgado. He will need to continue to have success with all three of his pitches as he has in his last two starts. Mike Minor will have two major challenges: Keeping runners off the bases via the walk and not giving up the long ball. Minor has struggled all season with the long ball and the Bronx Bombers will make him pay. Keeping the bases clear in the event he does give him a jack will be crucial. The key for Tim Hudson will be his sinker. As long as he can keep the ball on the ground, the veteran can be successful again the Yanks. Another bonus for Huddy is the new shortstop Andrelton Simmons who is proving to be incredibly valuable with his glove. Where Hudson has requested Jack Wilson at shortstop in his past starts, Simmons is an excellent upgrade at the position and will very likely be the starter behind Huddy.
Weather may delay tonight’s game. It is currently scheduled to start at 7:10 (EST).