• Kameron Loe

    Braves take series from Mets, continue on course to playoffs

    The Braves put another series win under their belts as they make their way to the postseason. Their record stands at 85-54 and they hold a 14 game lead on the Washington Nationals in the National League East.

    Kameron Loe surrendered 11 hits & 5 ER in 4 1/3 inn Wed.

    Kameron Loe surrendered 11 hits & 5 ER in 4 1/3 inn Wed.

    Though the Braves took 2-of-3 from the Mets, they weren’t without a hiccup or two. The Braves dropped the series finale to the Mets after spot starter Kameron Loe struggled mightily against Mets’ offense and continued his trend of giving up far too many long balls. Loe, who has pitched for 3 MLB teams this season, has allowed 11 dingers in 22 big league innings. Unfortunately, that trend continued when Loe gave up 2 homers in the game. In 4 1/3 innings, Loe allowed 5 runs on a whopping 11 hits.

    Entering Kameron Loe’s start Wednesday, the Braves were 27-8 with 2.66 ERA in past 35 games, and 19-4 with a 2.53 ERA in their past 23 home games. Their starting pitching, minus a few anomalies in Wood’s last outing and as Maholm has returned, has been dominant in the last few weeks. The Braves have watched as confidence has allowed Minor and Teheran to develop into two of the best young pitchers in the game, Wood was barely edged out for NL Rookie and Pitcher of the Month by the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez, and Kris Medlen has regained the command he displayed last year when he moved from the bullpen to the rotation and went on an otherworldly tear.

    More on Medlen: Kris Medlen had a solid outing in game 2 of the series. Medlen brought his season record to 12-12 and his ERA to 3.48. He went 7 strong innings, gave up 7 hits, allowed 1 run and struck out 9 batters.

    While the rotation is getting a great deal of ink as they dominate opposing hitters, it cannot go unmentioned just how amazing Craig Kimbrel has been this season. The closer was named August’s Delivery Man of the Month and a case could have been made for him being NL Pitcher of the Month. In August, Kimbrel was 1-0 with 12 saves and 19 Ks in 16 1/3 scoreless innings. Over that span he only allowed 2 batters a free pass on base, gave up only 8 hits and he converted each save opportunity he was given. This is the 3rd time in Kimbrel’s young career that he won this particular award, the previous 2 awards coming in August of 2011 and September of 2012.

    Of course, the entire series wasn’t defined by pitching. A few offensive highlights include Monday night’s Freddie Freeman Show. The dark horse MVP candidate matched a season high with 5 RBIs. In his career he has had 3 games in which he has batted in 5. Freeman appears to have taken the title of Mets’ Killer from Chipper Jones since the third baseman’s retirement. Freddie has hit .306/.377/.566 with 12 homers in 53 games (196 ABs) against the Mets.

    Another offensive highlight of the Mets’ series was the return of El Oso Blanco. After being sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett last week to get some consistent at-bats, the Braves welcomed back Evan Gattis Tuesday. While at Gwinnett, Evan Gattis had 6 hits including 3 doubles and a homer. He continued his hot hitting with 4 hits, including a double, homer and RBI in his 2 games back. In addition to his hitting, Gattis made his presence known on the base paths. In Wednesday’s game, Gattis had a stolen base erased by the official scorer, advancing instead on a wild pitch. In his big league career, he remains without a stolen base.

    BRAVES VISIT NOT SO UNFLAPPABLE PHILLIES…

    The Braves will arrive in Philly as their once dominant division rivals are struggling. Between players past their prime and a slue of new guys playing positions that were once manned by big-name stars, the Phillies are in sad shape. Their defense has been more reminiscent of a little league team than a high-paid big league roster. And their offense has been just as inconsistent. For the Braves, who are rapidly nearing the magic number of games won that will send them to the playoffs, it will be a good time for them to arrive in Philadelphia.

    With September call-ups still making news across Major League Baseball, the latest call-up for the Braves will join the club for the upcoming series. Right-handed reliever David Hale has been recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. Hale went 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 games for the Triple-A team. This will be his first appearance on a big league roster. The Braves also made a move in the opposite direction. They have traded catcher Matt Pagnozzi to the Houston Astros.

    As the Philly series opens, manager Fredi Gonzalez has said that outfielder Jordan Schafer should be ready to play Friday. Schafer was scratched from the lineup Wednesday with a quadriceps contusion that was created by him fouling a ball off his leg. Tuesday against New York, Schafer had 3 stolen bases in the first 4 innings of that game. Schafer has 11 steals in 18 games since returning from the disabled list with his foot/ankle inury. That matches the highest season total for any other Brave. B.J. Upton has 11 steals.

    Friday night’s series opener in Philly will feature Minor (13-5, 3.08) vs. Lee (11-6, 3.09). Game 2 will pit the rested Wood (3-3, 3.15) vs. Kendrick (10-12, 4.51). The series finale will feature Maholm (10-10, 4.41) vs. Hamels (6-13, 3.50). The Braves’ road trip will then continue in Miami.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.

    As trade deadline approaches, Braves hold ground in NL East

    With ten days left before the trade deadline, the Braves are in the precarious position of deciding whether to pull the string on a trade or stand pat. Despite their tough series loss in Chicago, the Braves held their ground in the NL East with a 6-1/2 game lead over the Phillies and a 7 game lead over the Nationals. Their tough loss in the series finale thanks to little run support for a great Mike Minor outing came on an afternoon when both the Nats and the Phillies also lost.

    The Braves are decimated by injuries as they return from the all-star break, with key injuries to Jordan Schafer, Freddie Freeman, B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward and Paul Maholm. Jordan Schafer is expected to be out at least another 4 weeks with a right ankle fracture. B.J. Upton was placed on the DL just before the break with shoulder woes. Jason Heyward was given 3 extra days rest in addition to the break for his ailing legs. He is expected to start in the first game of the Mets’ series and will be plugged into B.J. Upton’s spot in centerfield. And Freddie Freeman was forced to hand over his playing spot at the All Star Game to Brian McCann due to the jammed thumb he suffered just prior to the break. He was back in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale.

    However, none of the injuries the Braves have sustained recently play into the question of whether they will make a trade before the deadline. The likely spot the Braves would look to improve is in the bullpen. Looking for a reliable reliever, the Braves have cobbled together a strong ‘pen in the absence of Jonny Venters, Eric O’Flaherty and Cristhian Martinez (who had season-ending shoulder surgery just prior to the break). They could certainly improve in the ‘pen, though they have the 2nd best bullpen ERA in the National League.

    One piece of the ‘pen that is still untested is the recent call-up of RHP¬†Kameron Loe. Loe had had a rough few years in the big leagues with Seattle and Milwaukee before signing a minor league deal with the Braves. His numbers at Triple-A Gwinnett:

    Year Team W L W-L% ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
    2013 Gwinnett (AAA)  4 2 .667 3.19 21 4 2 42.1 40 18 15 2 8 24 1.134

    Unfortunately, what the Braves would like from Kameron Loe is what they got from Chad Durbin in his year with the team. That isn’t likely to happen. However, Loe has improved his pitching in Gwinnett and it appears his sinker is finally back to being as dominant as it once was in his early years with Texas. If his sinker can in fact sink, Loe could be a good situational pitcher out of the ‘pen for Fredi Gonzalez.

    BRAVES RETURN TO CITI FIELD FOR 4-GAME SET…

    With the wrist injury to Paul Maholm in his last start, the Braves now face the question of whether or not to activate young ace Brandon Beachy. Maholm is returning to Atlanta to have his strained wrist examined. The Braves will not know whether he can make his start against the Mets until the wrist is examined. If Maholm cannot start, Beachy has been progressing in his rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett.

    A break down of Beachy’s numbers while on rehab assignment following Tommy John surgery:

    Year Team W L W-L% ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WP WHIP
    2013 Rome (A) 1 0 1.000 0.00 1 1 5 3 0 0 0 1 3 0 0.800
    2013 Mississippi (AA) 1 0 1.000 5.40 1 1 5 6 3 3 1 1 4 0 1.400
    2013 Gwinnett (AAA) 1 3 .250 3.38 6 6 24 21 10 9 3 14 23 2 1.458

    Adding Beachy to the rotation in Maholm’s spot only prolongs the question of what to do with 6 potential starters, but for the time being, the Braves will have dodged that question once again.

    At end of upcoming series against the Mets, the Braves will have played New York 14 times in 2013 and will have lucked out by only facing Matt Harvey once. This is similar to their luck in not facing Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.

    The upcoming series against the New York Mets will open at Citi Field with Teheran (7-5, 3.35) vs. Gee (7-7, 4.32). The second game of the series will feature Medlen (6-9, 3.64) vs. Torres (0-1, 0.79). Hudson (7-7, 4.08) vs. Hefner (4-7, 3.93) will face off in the third game of the series. Slated to pitch in the final game of the series is the injured lefty Maholm (9-9, 4.41); whether he will be able to pitch vs. Wheeler (3-1, 3.58) is still up in the air.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter@framethepitch.