Braves 2, Reds 1

Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – May 29, 2011 – ESPN.

After last night’s marathon, the Braves (who didn’t have Venters, O’Flaherty, or, thankfully, Linebrink available) needed innings from their starters. Luckily, it was Jair Jurrjens‘ turn in the rotation. Jurrjens did his Maddux-lite routine, going eight innings, 64 strikes in 99 pitches, striking out five and walking two, scattering six hits. His only mistake was a hanger to Jay Bruce in the second, which gave the Reds a 1-0 lead until the sixth.

In the first inning, Jordan Schafer had singled leading off, but Martin Prado grounded into a double play. That didn’t happen in the sixth after Schafer walked leading off. On a 2-0 count, Prado turned on a pitch, taking it out to left field on a line, giving the Braves the lead. They hit other rockets that inning, but the ballpark held them.

Prado saved the day on defense in the eighth. With two out and a runner on second, Jurrjens allowed a line-drive single to left. The runner went, and Prado, who was there in a jiffy, threw home. David Ross‘ tag was maybe a little controversial, but the throw beat him by so much that the umpire’s always going to call him out. Fredi went to Craig Kimbrel to pitch the ninth, about which… well, I’m of two minds. Jurrjens was probably tiring some, but 99 pitches is not that much, and Kimbrel has been pitching a lot, including each of the last two games. I probably would have let Jurrjens start the inning and pulled him at the first sign of trouble. Kimbrel walked the first man on four pitches, but got Scott Rolen to pop out and Bruce to strike out before giving up a single to right. But facing Ramon Hernandez, who homered against him on Friday, Kimbrel rallied for the game-ending strikeout.

136 thoughts on “Braves 2, Reds 1”

  1. If Venters had been available, I wonder if Fredi would have gone with him in the 9th, what with Votto and Bruce due up?

  2. A few thoughts….

    1) I feel horrible about trading a relief pitcher and a mediocre light-hitting shortstop to the Rangers for a guy that put up MVP-caliber numbers for us for a year. I can’t imagine how crappy Detroit Tigers’ fans feel about trading us a starting pitcher who has provided a sub-3 ERA season and is now providing a sub-2 era season for us for a couple of years from Edgar Renteria.

    2) If JJ continues this sub-2 era season, I’d be really happy if Frank Wren trades him to a desperate GM for some offense. If he continues this, we won’t be able to afford him in arbitration, and he will most certainly not sign with us during his or for his free agency years. He should be the prize at the trading deadline, and I’m sure some GM will be willing to trade a top prospect for him.

    3) The new SweetSpot blows. David Schoenfield is not a good author, nor does he seem like a very bright guy.

    4) MLB’s blackout rules are asinine. I purchased MLB.tv, and was unable to watch neither yesterday’s nor today’s game.

    5) Doesn’t our season always start after we beat the Reds?

  3. Lets hope that when Heyward comes back he and Uggla can both get going and make this team actually kind of scary with the way the pitching staff is performing right now

  4. With regard to #4, I imagine there’s a sign taking up an entire wall of the Tigers’ GM’s office reading, “NEVER TRADE A PITCHING PROSPECT TO ATLANTA.”

  5. This feels like a 1991-94 team. The team depends on pitching and the HR ball.

    Fun games the last two nights.

  6. trade jurjjins? nope. sorry sir but that is dumb.

    yes schafer looked good on defense. no pop though.

    i am a big martin prado fan as of tonight. as much for his post game interview as his play tonight. first class.

    i have a lot more respect for what sea bass gives this team. the guy can field.

  7. Jurrjens is a likely candidate to be dealt during the offseason, but probably not during this season. Teheran isn’t ready, Beachy is banged up, Lowe might suck again, and Minor has not proven anything yet. Jurrjens is the anchor right now. The Braves need him to contend, with or without a good offense.

  8. Trading Jurrjens isn’t a crazy idea, but it isn’t going to happen during the season, especially when this might be his career year.

    Selling high after the season seems reasonable, though, if we can get a really nice offensive return.

  9. Well, when it comes to actual probability of being traded, I completely agree with you that he’s not going to get dealt. But, if the front office does receive a competitive enough offer, I would hope that they would deal him.

    Also, the NL East is now the only division with more than one 30 win team, as they have three in Philadelphia, Florida, and Atlanta. Once the Mets have competent owners, and Washington’s young talent steps up, it’s going to be nearly impossible to escape with more than a wild card.

  10. Braves14,

    I think that J.J. is due for a pretty mean regression. The longer the season goes on, the worse he’s going to get (in my opinion). Additionally, it always seems like teams pay a lot more at the heat of the trade deadline than at the end of the season, when the pressure has cooled off and optimism abounds.

  11. The first paragraph of Peanut’s recap is insane:

    It has not been a coincidence that the Braves’ offense has been subdued while Martin Prado has found minimal offensive success the past couple weeks. But now that their valuable catalyst has provided his latest spark, this potentially strong lineup might once again start showing consistent life.

    He makes it sound like we scored 10 runs tonight, when in fact without Prado we get shut out.

  12. 14 — It’s possible, but people have said that about Jurrjens for 4 years now.

  13. Jurrjens’s stats don’t back up his ERA — but very few pitchers ever pitch well enough to back up a 1.51 ERA. His FIP entering tonight was 2.74. His control has been impeccable, and while his strikeout rate isn’t great, the low walk rate more than balances it out. What usually gets pitchers like this is home runs, but he’s kept that under control for the most part. I don’t see why if he maintains his walk and home run numbers he can’t continue to excel. And if he does, the Braves won’t trade him, because he’ll win the Cy Young.

    I don’t think Schoenfeld is stupid, but he’s not really a writer, he’s an editor.

  14. Well, a sub-3 FIP is still impressive. I’m just worried about his Arb2 and Arb3 salaries, and his free agency demands. I just think that he could get back a major offensive piece.

    Schoenfield’s reasoning, writing style, and inaccuracies really irk me. I agree that PW is definitely a more engaging and interesting author than him. And who’s idea was it to put Jim Bowden on the blog? He brings an unique perspective, but I wish he’d quit with the analysis and just start commentary on front office reasoning behind certain decisions. That would be extremely good utilization of his talents.

    Additionally, different topic, but I never really ‘liked’ Jordan Schafer as a player when he first came up. I’m really impressed by what he’s been able to do. I doubt that he can keep it up, but it’d be great for this team if he could. A hitting Schafer allows us to put McLouth in left for days that Prado needs to spell Chipper or Uggla.

  15. 14 – sorry about that. trading your ace in what is shaping up to be a tight race for a prospect isnt what a smart gm would do. we do need offense but the only openig is at cf. a good cf that can hit a little is a rare and expensive commodity. i recognize our surplus of pitching and that jair is pitching better than his norm but this team is built to win this season and jurrjins gives us a better chance to do that than beachy or minor

  16. If you trade JJ now, you need to get a Greinke type return, and most teams won’t do that.

  17. 21,

    I would almost argue that Greinke is not as good a pitcher as JJ. Outside of his extremely anomalous 2009 season, he’s not shown himself to be a top-tier starter.

    20,

    I guess we have a difference of opinion. Since 2008, I’ve maintained that this team is really built for the 2012 and 2013 season, and anything else before that is just gravy. If we can get a package that includes an elite option at either SS, CF, or 3B for the 2012 or 2013 season, I would prefer taking it and dumping JJ’s arbitration salaries for the next couple of years. That being said, I’m sure that the Front Office doesn’t share this view with me.

  18. Reports about 2 weeks ago, if they can be believed, indicated the Braves were not interested in trading Lowe. It’s hard then to see how they’d be willing to deal the cheaper and better Jurrjens.

  19. If he’s traded, it will be because he’s cheaper and better. Lowe won’t bring much return. Remember when the team sold Vazquez instead of Lowe to bring payroll under budget? Same kind of thing, only Jurrjens is both cheaper and better, so he should pull considerably better pieces.

    I’m sure if some team came along and offered up a prospect and was willing to assume Lowe’s entire salary, the team would jump, but no one wants to pay Lowe’s salary for the quality of pitcher he is.

    I don’t see any trades for either Lowe or Jurrjens, though. Beachy’s probably the only starting pitcher realistically available for trade, and he’s hurt right now.

  20. I’m just worried about his Arb2 and Arb3 salaries

    Try replacing that performance on the open market, and you’ll pony up that amount with a smile on your face.

  21. Mac, I would never rely on Kimbrel to clean up trouble. He needs to start clean in case of random walks. I would agree with Fredi’s decision tonight.

    If we are trading JJ, it would be in the offseason. The Braves can afford keeping him (Lowe and Huddy are on their last year of contract next season), but the question is whether we WANT to keep him.

    As for now, let’s just enjoy his performance before thinking to far.

  22. @22-You lost me there. Greinke’s career 3.43 SO/BB is significantly better than JJ’s 2.04 and it’s currently sitting at 13 this year with 39 K’s and 3 BB’s in 28 innings.

    I like JJ a lot, but if I’m putting together a roster, I choose Greinke over him every time.

  23. @27

    JJ’s never been a strikeout pitcher. His career 45.6% GB rate is significantly higher than Greinke’ 39.8% rate, and his 2010 GB rate of 49.7% is much higher than Greinke’s 34.7% GB rate. Admittedly, JJ’s career FIP of 3.74 is a touch higher than Greinke’s 3.57, but that’s a difference of just about 3 runs over 180 innings pitched.

    For what it’s worth, JJ’s BABIP over 600 innings is .281, and Zack’s is .308 over nearly 1200 innings, implying that there may be some skill factor involved. JJ’s HR/9 career rate is 2/3 of Zack’s HR/9. They both have similar LD rates, but JJ’s Fly Ball rate is 5% less than Zack’s.

    I think that the really important factor here is age. Zach is 2.25 years older than JJ, and the huge leap that Greinke took forward in 2009 occurred at the same age as Jair is now. JJ has 600 less innings on his arm (amounting to nearly 3 and a half seasons). Jair’s K/BB rate this year is 3.67, and if he’s really taken that step forward towards being a control pitcher, it’s going to be higher going forward than Zack’s 3.43 career rate.

    Basically, JJ’s at the age where pitchers start to get way better, and Greinke will soon be at the age where they start to decline. And, although this is hard to mention, while giving out a huge contract, it’s hard to forget about Greinke’s checkered past and his shenanigans earlier this year.

    I think that it’s perfectly acceptable to like either one over the other, but I think that a strong case can be made that Jair has a more positive outlook for the future.

  24. Kimbrel really earned his save tonight vs. the heart of the Reds order. Experience like that will only make him better. Pitching in five out of the last six, he could use some rest though. Why was he used in friday night’s loss anyway?

  25. 29,

    Welcome to Fredi’s Managing 101.

    Rule 1) Do as many things as you can from the following list: wear out pitchers through overuse; Bundt(TM) as many times as possible; leave pitchers in as long as possible; make sure that your best hitters bat the lowest in the lineup; bring in bad relief pitchers when the game is on the line; and bring in good relief pitchers only when the game has been won.

    Rule 2) Always follow Rule 1.

    This post has been brought to you by Fredi’s Bundt Cakes. Fredi’s Bundt Cakes: Where our cakes resemble Fredi Gonzalez’s IQ!

  26. Oh boy… Are we going to have to testify in the upcoming trial regarding a certain poster and #TeamSchafer?

  27. I just watched Andruw hitting to the opposite filed with the NYY. Better late than never I guess…..

  28. Schafer’s been a pleasant surprise in CF this past week. His poor-looking line in AAA belies okay BB and K rates. I really like a lineup headed by a productive Schafer. His at-bat preceding Prado’s HR was particularly good.

    I’m trying to be optimistic, because most of me thinks he’s going to come back down quite a bit if he’s pressed into sustained duty. Well, offensively at least. He looks better defensively than McLouth.

  29. That Hanson gets so much love on Braves Journal while JJ gets so little baffles me. Going deep into games seems more valuable than throwing 100 pitches through five innings.

    Trade Hanson if you must, but keep JJ please.

  30. It’s a bit odd, but at the major league level this year, Jordan Schafer became AAA Matt Young and Matt became AAA Schafer.

  31. Hanson has a better track record than Jurrjens. Also, his peripherals have been getting better every year while Jurrjens has been inconsistent. They’ve both pitched around the same number of innings, too, so Jurrjens ability to pitch deeper into games is somewhat negated by his proneness to injury.

    Just looking at the way they pitch, Hanson’s numbers seem more sustainable. I haven’t done any kind of research, but it seems like pitchers like Jurrjens eventually allow home runs at a higher rate. Note that a stat that normalizes HR/Fly (xFIP) has Jurrjens a half run worse than Hanson.

    I think it comes down to that most fans, myself included, simply watch Hanson and think he’s a better pitcher.

  32. JJ made 1 really bad pitch last night, Hanson makes more. Is there a stat for that? Location, location, location. Watching Hanson pitch drains me emotionally.

  33. JJ’s 2009 was better than Hanson’s best season, he was hurt in 2010, and is having a spectacular 2011. JJ is a run preventing fool, and it seems like nobody is much impressed by that, unless it comes with gaudy peripherals. I’ll take the results, and let someone else figure out who the xFip Cy Young winner is.

  34. They’re both fantastic young pitchers and I’m glad they’re with the Braves.

    The talk on here about Jurrjens being traded has to do with him reaching his arb years and getting more expensive. Hanson isn’t that far along yet.

  35. Let’s be real. JJ made about 10 bad pitches last night. His location was off for most of the game. He was getting hit hard early. He wasn’t generating ground balls. I was really surprised he lasted as long as he did given how much he’d been pitching up in the zone. Frankly, I thought he was clearly out-pitched by Cueto for the first six innings.

    Don’t get me wrong. JJ’s start to the season has been nothing short of fantastic, and I’ve loved watching it. I just don’t trust it. It doesn’t make sense to me. At least, not as much sense as what I see from Hanson, who is frustrating to watch in his own right. His lack of ability to finish batters off means he’s much less efficient than true “#1” pitchers like Halladay or whomever.

    Either way, I’m glad the Braves have such good young pitchers on the team, and for now at least, I don’t see any reason to trade either

  36. @41 in 2009 Hanson had a runs against average of 2.96 to Jurrjens’ 2.97. In just the year you mention, Hanson was better at preventing runs.

  37. Hanson only pitched 127 innings to JJ’s 215, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t find this a complete refutation.

    Also – JJ – ERA+ of 159, to Hanson’s 143 of that year

  38. You boys are at least predictable. I’m sure you’re all right and Jurrjens will “go Mulholland” any day now. And one day Hanson might figure out how to pitch past the sixth.

  39. JJ had no control of his slider and got lucky last night. It wasn’t his best night, but it’s all good–because it was still very good.

    He’s been lights out so far this year but much if that has been due to some changes; this season has not been a replica of his 2008-9 seasons. He has shown great control and is using a two seam fastball to induce more ground balls than previously; in truth, he is emerging as a “ground ball pitcher” in a way you never could say before now. All of which is to say: my estimation of the 2011 JJ is much higher than my estimation of the 2009 JJ. His peripherals suggest real growth, SSS caveat applied.

  40. I don’t really get why people use ERA (or ERA+). Either you want to see how well the pitcher has thrown independent of his team’s defense, in which case FIP or other peripheral-based calculations seem appropriate, or you want to see how effective the pitcher has been, in which case a run average without the “earned” qualifier seems appropriate.

    If you use ERA or ERA+, it’s like you’re saying you want to count the quality of the team defense in everything except scored errors. I don’t get it.

  41. @43

    Yes let’s be real. He made about 10 bad pitches last night but also went 8 innings giving up 1 run and only on 99 pitches. JJ went to the mound in a rubber game of a big series and delivered. Tommy Hanson is lucky if we get 99 pitches out of him in five innings and then he doesn’t have the stamina to sustain anything past that.

  42. Some pitcher needs to be traded in the offseason for pitching. Whether it’s JJ, Hanson, Beachy, Minor, Medlen, or a prospect, it just doesn’t make sense to hold onto so much pitching when you have such clear areas of need elsewhere.

    Although, speaking of offense, I’m not sure that what we need is another player rather than another coach. I think it’s not unreasonable to say that, at this point in the season, we are beyond everybody just being “cold.” It has to be a systemic problem at this point. Can anyone honestly argue otherwise?

    Adding a bat now would be like treating the symptoms rather than curing the disease.

    Speaking of which, if were gonna hang onto Larry because he’s “Fredi’s guy” or whatever asinine reason he’s still here, what is the general rule on bringing in the fences? Isn’t that generally thought of as a bad idea? Maybe we can just do it for the life of Uggla’s contract so it doesn’t seem like such a mistake.

  43. I will never get the “so-and-so should be pitching worse (or better) than he is, and therefore he is” line of thinking.

  44. #51 – Well, offense is down across both leagues.

    You put too much value into what Larry Parrish contributes to the team’s offense.

    I do agree that one of our pitchers should be traded in the off season.

    Not to engage in too much hyperbole but watching Schafer play the field last night gave me a lot of appreciation on just how good Andrew Jones was.

  45. ThE Braves have gotten nothing from Uggla or Heyward but are three games out.

  46. @52

    Nobody is saying that JJ is worse than his results. Nobody wants to trade JJ because they think he’s a bad pitcher, but because he’s a good pitcher who can therefore bring a lot of return before too much money is invested in him.

    You can’t always go around waiting for an opportunity to fleece someone.

  47. I wonder why Prado is in left with Chipper out. Fredi must have wanted Conrad to get some PAs.

  48. When Jim Powell asked “What was Aaron Harang doing?” I thought Sutton was about to say “Running the bases like a Brave.” But he said “pitcher” instead. That, in any event, seems like a good summation of the Braves’ baserunning this season: they run the bases like a bunch of pitchers.

  49. He’s just a slow starter. I expect he’ll really start getting hot sometime around year 3 of the contract.

  50. Does anyone stream MLB.TV through Apple TV/Roku/Boxee/etc.? I’d really like to watch the games on my TV without having to run an ethernet cable to the laptop and than an HDMI cord to an interface into the TV with an AUX cable to a set of speakers. It’s a pain and the quality is still not great.

    Any advice or reviews?

  51. RobBroad4th, there is a free MLB.TV app so you can stream from your modem to your TV or web enabled device. I have a samsung Blu-Ray, downloaded the free app, and watch MLB.TV on my TV often.
    It is okay, lags a few minutes, but the quality is solid.

  52. @68, What is the app for? I have an internet-ready Samsung LCD, but I can’t surf the net on it. How do I set that up?

  53. where would we be if McCann got “Posey’d” at the plate? I’m starting to come around to the idea of doing something to protect catchers.

    And Uggla needs to sit down.

  54. Rob, can you put an ethernet line into your TV?
    Check the Samsung remote and look for an internet button, you will have to set it up like any device you wan to hook up to the internet.
    Once you figure that out look at Samsung APPS, sports, and it will be there.
    You also have to activate the device through your computer by logging into you MLB.TV account.

  55. We should start a pool on when Uggla’s BA will drop below .150.

    I’ll take July 1.

  56. @76 – The whole Padres lineup is like Uggla without power. The Braves have had to actively work to give the Padres two runs in this game so far. In summary, the Padres are a terrible team.

  57. He did just make his 1st start after injury. Maybe play it safe and not push his back?

  58. That’s probably it. He probably would like to pitch another six innings against these guys.

  59. Aaaaand Blu-Ray Player isn’t cool enough either. Thanks anyways, oldtimer.

  60. I was hooted down after questioning the wisdom of extending Uggla at the time, so clearly, this is just a slow start.

  61. Just a hypothetical:

    What would it take for the Jays to let go of Bautista, and would you do it?

  62. 15 wins this month so far: 2 with a five-run difference, 1 with a four-run difference, 1 with a 3-run diffenece, 4 with a 2-run difference… and 7 with a single run difference!

  63. Probably. And then Fredi would hit him fourth every game.

    To be fair to Fredi Gonzalez: that was really more of Bobby Cox’s shtick in 2007 with Andruw Jones. At least Gonzalez isn’t still batting Dan Uggla fourth.

  64. A crappy offense compounded with sorry umpiring makes it pretty dang hard to win ballgames. Terrible call.

    What do you know, more free baseball.

  65. Replay shows clearly safe, but umpire is on wrong side of the base to see and make that.

  66. And also, Bobby would have waddled out there and be getting tossed backing up his player right now. Would like to see that from Fredi.

  67. Twelfth extra-inning game of the season. And only two of the first eleven ended in the tenth. We believe in giving value for your ticket price.

  68. Trade everyone. Every single player from the Braves DSL team all the way to ATL.

  69. Well, when you can’t hit you’re gonna lose eventually. The Braves’ offense makes me sick.

  70. I need a .GIF of what Sherril just did with his eyes. That was hilariously creepy.

  71. Ryan Ludwick would be a useful trade target. His away numbers are nice, he’s a righty, and can fake it at all 3 OF spots. He’d get plenty of starts.

  72. @119, Don’t be greedy. There’s a lot of soccer teams that would kill for two points a game.

  73. Braves have hit three liners all season, compared to 3000 popups.

    Or so it seems.

  74. Still say Gearrin should’ve pitched 2 innings. I know there’s no guarantee he wouldn’t have given up a run, but he only needed 12 pitches to get through the 8th, including 2 K’s.

    Still, complaining about small things like that seems rather, well, small, when you consider the larger problem of having an atrocious offense.

  75. The Braves offense may actually be getting worse. I didn’t think it was possible, but it is.

  76. to be fair, their pen is damn good. We also need to keep in mind that while the losses are frustrating, this team has actually played good ball lately

  77. I agree, but there are too many “baseball people” who agree with Parrish’s “grounders and aggression, dammit!” philosophy, especially with offense levels as low as they are. (No, they don’t see a connection either.) I think we’re a ways from deliverance.

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