Braves 2, Cardinals 0

For all of the talk about how the Braves need a top-of-the-rotation starter, the guys currently under contract are doing pretty damn well. Last night, Mike Minor pitched a gem to shut down a potent Cardinals offense. Today, Julio Teheran upstaged fellow youngster Joe Kelly to give the Braves a series win. Perhaps the current members of the Braves rotation have grown annoyed at the recent chatter. Perhaps there already are two top-of-the-rotation arms in Atlanta.

Whatever the case, Teheran was fantastic this afternoon. He ran into some 1st inning trouble, when Matt Holliday doubled and Allen Craig walked, but a nice snag on a Yadier Molina line drive got him out of trouble. And then it was cruise control. Over the next 6 innings the 22-year old surrendered a lone hit while striking out 6. He didn’t walk anyone else either. This was as good as Teheran has looked since the Pirates game in June, and it came against one of the best offenses in baseball. The kid looks legit.

On the other side of the ledger, the Braves offense did what it always seems to do: strand a prodigious number of runners on base. Fredi Gonzalez put together a great lineup; and Cardinals pitchers posted only two 1-2-3 innings on the day; and even one of those necessitated a double play to remain so. But Atlanta just couldn’t get anyone home. Evan Gattis stranded a runner in the 1st; Andrelton Simmons and Teheran each stranded 2 runners in the 2nd; Simmons stranded 2 more runners in the 4th; Brian McCann and Dan Uggla each stranded a runner in the 6th; and Justin Upton, who looks broken again, hit into a bases-loaded double play to end the 7th. As in so many games gone by, Braves hitters  couldn’t get the timely hit to take the lead.

Until the 8th, anyway. In that inning Atlanta once again loaded the bases, only this time Simmons came through with a 2-run double. That was it for the scoring, though, as Jose Constanza fell back into line and stranded 2 more guys on the very next at bat. Still, we’ll take it. Andrelton has struggled mightily at the plate – and it’s hard to say his .239 BABIP is all tough luck, as a 19% infield fly percentage will suppress that number – but very quietly, he’s having a decent month with the bat. Hopefully the power he has shown this month will stick around, because the on-base skills aren’t going to arrive anytime soon. Good game, Simba.

Let’s enjoy this win. For all of the recent mediocrity, the Braves now have a winning record against each NL team above water. Now, if only we could figure out how to beat the Brewers, Mets, and Padres…

252 thoughts on “Braves 2, Cardinals 0”

  1. Thank you, Adam. Great young pitchers are fun to watch, especially if they’re on your team.

    Bring the brooms tomorrow, Braves.

  2. Must be the font because I did a double take on that too – but really, no. Braves 104 gm, STL 101

  3. Team is now up to 11-11 for July, with 4 to go all at home. Winning these last two has greatly improved the chances of another over .500 month.

  4. Many of us, me included, voiced doubts about how the organization handled Minor’s long rough stretch early last season. Time to give the Braves a little credit. They knew what they were doing.

  5. 7- And in addition, the Braves have just EIGHT games left against teams with winning records- tomorrow’s game, four in St. Louis in late August, and three at home against Cleveland right after that. Lotsa Phillies, lotsa Fishies, lotsa Natspos.

  6. Adam, thanks for this…

    a word on your Simba bunt comments yesterday…the danger of reviewing something you’ve not seen only listened to, the height of that pitch i heard no mention of on the radio, it makes all the difference of course…glad to hear your version, i am a huge fan of the young man…and tonight he did it again…

  7. If the Braves want to sweep the Cardinals at Turner Field and later Busch Stadium, and cause that team to lose the division to the Pirates or Reds by one game, and the Cardinals get thrown into that stupid one-game wild card thing and lose, that would be just great.

  8. Staff’s WAR and MLB rankings (starters)
    Minor- 2.6 22nd
    Hudson- 1.8 49th
    Teheran- 1.6 58th
    Medlen- 1.0 81st
    Maholm- 0.6 122nd

    So…Minor is a borderline ace, Hudson and Teheran are borderline #2 starters, Medlen is a borderline #3 starter, and Maholm has been a #5 starter. That sounds about right. I don’t think it’s outlandish to think that Beachy could do about as well as Hudson from here on out.

    Now to the relievers…
    Kimbrel- 1.2 18th
    Walden- 0.8 32nd
    Avilan- 0.3 95th (a bit ridiculous, isn’t it?)

    Team rankings…
    Starters- 12th
    Relievers- 12th
    Hitting- 5th (1st in the NL…really?)

    Thoughts? It looks like fangraphs concludes that our inconsistent offense is what carries our team.

  9. fWAR also counts defense for position players. So with that included, yes, I think the position players have been pretty strong.

  10. @16

    “What about that shadowy place?”

    “That’s the leadoff spot. You must never go there, Simba.”

  11. Simmons: what am I gonna do about the leadoff spot?

    Gonzalez: Run away, Simba. Run; run away and never return.

  12. This has to be a joke right?

    Peanut… If Beachy is not able to start on Monday for some reason, the Braves would likely turn to one of their starters in Gwinnett or to reliever Kameron Loe, who had been starting for Gwinnett before joining the Braves bullpen during the team’s most recent road trip.

  13. Really good to see Simmons get a hit, especially after hearing Karros bag on him all day.

    And Teheran, man. This is why he topped prospect lists for years.

  14. @17 In case anyone’s interested in a little background on pitcher WAR, FanGraphs’ pitcher WAR is based on Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). FIP is a formula that plugs in a pitcher’s walk rate, K rate and HR rate to calculate what the resulting runs allowed “should be”, if BABIP and hitter sequencing is normalized to league average. Baseball Reference WAR is based on runs allowed, which is then adjusted for defense and park factors.

    For instance, Luis Avilan has a 1.32 ERA, despite the fact that he’s walked nearly as many hitters (16) as he has struck out (22) in his 41 IP. His ERA is helped by a very low BABIP (.178) and HR/FB% (0), and high strand rate (82%). His FIP is two runs higher at 3.29, and his xFIP (which basically adds back in a normalized HR/FB rate) a full three runs higher at 4.41.
    Fangraphs looks at Luis Avilan’s value as a product of his FIP, whereas B-R calculates his value relative to his seasonal ERA. Consequently, his fWAR is 0.3, and his bWAR is 1.6.

    Generally speaking, fWAR has generated lower values for the Braves pitching staff than bWAR across the board this year (and last) because our superior defense has prevented hits on balls in play, creating a sustained gap between ERA and FIP.

  15. @21 – all that means is that they don’t have many in house options (they really don’t) and haven’t completed a trade to fill the hole (they haven’t.) They’re not going to go forward with Loe or AAA filler as their starters there, but if they have to swing an emergency start due to slow recovery by Beachy, they will.

  16. What’s weird is, we’re a good team having a good year. We’re going to win 90-93 games, which is pretty much what you would have thought going into the season, and we won’t even have to play in the Wild Card Game.

    Hey, I’ll take it.

  17. @27, I actually thought we’d be a bit better than 90-93 wins because I thought our offense was going to be the best in the league. I also that we’d have to be that good in order to win the division. We may not win 95+ like I was hoping, but really I don’t care how many we win as long as we win the division.

    RE: the pitching WAR discussion – I think that anyone who’s followed the Braves game by game this year would have to agree that our pitching has been consistently outstanding and the offense has been streaky. Any higher-order stat that ranks our offense ahead of our pitching really needs to be ignored.

  18. I think we have a legitimate shot in the playoffs if Teheran, Minor, and anyone else pitches well, we can land a left reliever, and our lineup can resemble even close to their career norms. Unfortunately, the latter hasn’t happened yet.

    It begs the question: does the amount of veterans performing well under their career norms reflect at all on our hitting coaches?

  19. I think I have a fundamental aversion to all the metrics that try to show what “should have happened” rather than what did happen.

  20. Any higher-order stat that ranks our offense ahead of our pitching really needs to be ignored.

    I sort of agree with this, but dismissing things that doesn’t agree with your eyeball test is antithetical to the point of the sabrmetric exercise – can’t anyone can dismiss anything by this standard?

  21. @33, yes. I can’t even decide if I trust park factors (due to unbalanced schedule and left/right splits). Normalizing to league avg BABIP and ignoring homers is just too much for me I guess.

  22. FIP does show what did happen. It’s fundamentally wrong to assume that it merely shows what should have happened.

    As far as next-in-line to start from AAA, mark me down as preferring Omar Poveda and David Hale to Kameron Loe.

  23. I didn’t realize how bad Gilmartin was doing in Gwinnett. ERA near 6, WHIP of 1.6+, giving up tons of homers…yikes. I guess he’s unlikely to be a spot fill-in.

  24. @35, xFIP is the one that leaves me with a bad taste – I read it as “take away all those homers he allowed and he’d have been a pretty good pitcher”.

  25. @31 Do you disagree that much of the sports’ individual outcomes are based on luck? If you want to get the truest measure possible of what part of outcomes are actually being controlled by the player in question, should you not try to isolate what they control from what merely “happened” perhaps due to luck?

  26. @38 This gets right to the heart of the question of whether the Braves pitchers are as good as their ERA, or if they owe some of their success to defensive strengths up the middle (C, SS, CF). It’s undoubtedly true that the Braves have elite run prevention; it’s more debatable whether the team has elite pitching. Obviously, it’s a moot point in one sense – great run prevention is great run prevention, so why quibble? But if the team can improve upon the pitching side of the ledger, then it makes sense to test the market for an arm. Because, perhaps, the run prevention can be even better.

  27. @38, baseball is full of luck but I think you have to be able to measure luck before you can try to normalize it away. How do you measure luck? Soft base hits and/or screaming liners right at people? Sure I can buy into trying to characterize quality-of-contact and using that to measure hitters and pitchers. I can’t agree that all homers given up are luck though.

  28. @39 Yes, that’s a good point. It is a useful question in terms of evaluating our staff versus potential improvements. This also illustrates the difference between individual and team luck. Pitchers on the Braves are lucky for having the defense they have, but for the team it’s by design and repeatable, because we have someone named Andrelton Simmon to run out there every day.

    @40 You don’t have to measure the luck, you just have to more accurately exclude it. Certainly not all homers are luck, which is why xFIP is not a standalone measure of pitcher performance in anyone’s book. But it is a useful one, because some homers (or lack thereof) are luck, such as a fly ball carried out by the wind, or one caught at the wall in an unusually big park. Normalizing a stat that tends to even out over time anyway helps eliminate that issue from the equation so other skills can be revealed. There are always individual exceptions – pitchers who have consistently low HR/FB ratios, batters with consistently high BABIP – but that’s why it’s just one tool of many.

  29. I loathe FIP because I find the general concept stupid. Getting ground balls or weak fly balls is a major part of pitching, and writing off everything that can’t be quantified as luck is absurd on its face. Even then, though, if it were presented more frequently as what it was (more or less a measurement of power for pitchers), I wouldn’t care about the stat, but it wouldn’t upset me either. The problem is that it’s so often presented as: “Here is this pitcher’s actual ERA, since all the outs on balls in play don’t count.” I find that presentation to be really irritating.

    As such, I find the whole CJ/Heyward BABIP argument to be similarly irritating. You can’t assume that every unquantifiable thing in baseball is solely explained by luck, but a lot of people do.

  30. @39, look at the three worst offenses in the NL (in runs/game), and then look at what division they play in, and what team gets to play the most games against them. That has to be at least a small part of it.

  31. @41, there’s good things (from the pitcher’s point of view) that can also be “lucky”. Strikeout after an upper deck moonshot one foot to the wrong side of the foul pool, strikeout on a borderline pitch, hitter swinging and missing at ball four, hitter fouling back a hanging slider, etc. If you can’t quantify luck then you can’t exclude it.

    I’m not arguing that these aren’t useful tools. I’m gonna argue that they don’t add that much value on top of ERA and WHIP.

  32. @44 Since ERA, in particular, has so little value to begin with, it seems as if you are arguing they aren’t useful tools. But I’ll just accept we’re not going to see eye to eye on this.

  33. Ya know, the Yankees are looking for more power and they probably remember BJ’s great stretch last year, so …

    (Cashman would probably put a suitcase bomb under Hal’s table.)

  34. I can’t prove it, but I suspect Avilan’s high(ish) walk rate has more to do with his locating near the corners and the impressive movement of his pitches than it does with an inability to throw strikes.

    As long as those walks don’t turn into runs, it’s not a problem.

  35. I’ve always thought that WHIP was a pretty good pitching stat (given its simplicity). Yes a bad defense might cost you more hits and hurt your WHIP, but a good WHIP almost always means you’re looking at an effective pitcher.

  36. Wow. Miguel Cabrera has just been thrown out for arguing strikes and balls at 0-2 count, basas loaded against the Phillies and one out. Leyland thrown ouy as well. The umpire is a major tool.

  37. Atlanta’s recent troubles with the Mets bother me even more as I watch the Nationals prepare to take 3 out of 4 from them.

  38. I wouldn’t ever advocate looking at a single stat in isolation. FIP is probably most useful when you also look at the pitcher’s ERA. You can’t measure “luck” directly, but “luck” is really sort of a misnomer: it basically comprises everything that happens on a baseball field that isn’t the direct result of human intention, everything from whether a ball stays fair or rolls foul to the ball catching a gust of wind and going just over the wall. So we try to measure all of those things and keep in mind a neutral baseline so we have a fair sense of how much of a player’s success or failure is directly attributable to his effort, and how much may be attributable to factors utterly beyond his control.

    WAR is a good stat, but it’s just one stat. You have to look at the players described and understand what’s going on under the hood. The Braves are having a good season, and one reason for that is that Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive player in baseball, which factors heavily into positional WAR.

  39. @53 “Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive player in baseball”

    I really wish he got more credit for this fact.

  40. Peavy trade is about to happen and it looks like the “suitors” are us and the A’s, as the other teams say it’s not them. Frightened to know what we’d be giving up.

    Edit: Nvm…Bowden says its not us. Good…

  41. Sadly, it’s all too easy for us fans to take Simba’s defense for granted, especially since his defensive gifts allow him to make just about all plays look routine.

    Also, the complaints regarding advanced statistics posted here today annoy me, because they rely almost entirely upon 1) a misunderstanding of what the statistics measure and represent, and 2) framing their opposition as a principled stand against what they see as the encroaching statistical totalitarian state.

    If you take the time to understand the advanced stats, it leads you to a deeper understanding of the game. FIP and WAR, et al. have not robbed the game of its beauty and mystery, nor will they ever.

  42. Tigers scored eight runs on two hits in that inning, and one of the hits was a bunt single. All runs were “unearned” though because of three errors, so the Phillies’ bullpen’s collective ERA went down.

  43. Well, the thing about FIP is that when it came out, there wasn’t anything like the wealth of batted ball data that exists today. There was nothing documenting the difference between a sharp line drive straight at the RF and a blooper down the line that went for a double, other than that one was an out and the other was a double. Data collection in baseball has improved so dramatically even in just the past 10 years that we can now do a whole lot better than FIP.

    But when it first came out, it made a simple point very dramatically: this measure which takes out everything that isn’t directly under the pitcher’s control has a better correlation with next-year performance than ERA. No one was really making the argument that you should ignore the other factors that go into why a pitcher gives up a hit or a run or whatever. The point was that ERA was a horrible way to prospectively evaluate pitchers.

  44. Some batted ball are hit well and are outs, others not hit as well land in good places and others are hit so poorly that defense cannot make a play. The limits of Sabermetrics. To my eyes, Chris Johnson has gotten more than his share of hits going with the pitch and getting the ball to land in good places.

  45. Game, Blauser – maybe you didn’t notice that you just made the same silly strawman argument that you find so irritating.

    No one in THIS CONVERSATION made any allusion to the Frank Defordian “beauty and mystery” argument. You may certainly find that annoying. Good thing nobody said it.

    But I agree in that I think some of the arguments that actually were made do stem from misunderstandings of the nature and purpose of many of these stats.

    It was said above that FIP meausures what should have happened. Then it was argued that it DOES measure what actually happened. Which, yeah, it does, sort of. But it ignores much more than it measures. Plus, it scales itself to ERA. Its billed and sold as a kind of Expected ERA.

    Fangraphs’ definition: Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average.

    But I have a serious question. If WAR, and FIP and these other advanced numbers are based on weighing actual on-field occurences against historical average run creation associated with simimar events, why can’t we have an FIP type numver that incorporates the run expectancy of groundballs and flyballs without regard for actual hits allowed, slugging percentage against, or even homeruns allowed? For that matter, why not include strike and ball percentage, and even swinging vs called strike percentage?

    Why doesn’t some smart guy determine the average run expectancy of a groundball and a flyball, like they did for strikeouts, walks and homeruns, and then create an FIP based on that?

    Because, to me, that we call this statistic “Fielding Independent Pitching,” is ludicrous. Its not fielding independent. It’s batted ball independent. My understanding is that it assumes that all outcomes where the ball is in play will result in outs at the league average rate. Strikeouts good, walks bad, homeruns bad. Every other outcome, neutral. And that just isn’t as useful, in my mind, as it is passed off as being. And I, personally, don’t think that position is either inflammatory or ignorant.

  46. Some interesting stuff here today, says this statistician. Start with the simple equation:

    Perfomance = Skill + Luck

    The left hand side is measurable, while the right hand side is composed of two unmeasurable components. Fortunately, however, there is a fact about luck:

    sum over time(luck) –> 0 (note that it is not equality, just a trend)

    If skill were a constant, then we could estimate skill as the nontransitory part of performance.

    Unfortunately, (a) skill moves around over time, and (b) we may not see enough reps for luck to even out, particularly where luck is a large (albeit transitory) component of performance.

    Thus, the quest for statistics that are purely skill-based, a quest that will never end.

  47. If WAR, and FIP and these other advanced numbers are based on weighing actual on-field occurences against historical average run creation associated with simimar events, why can’t we have an FIP type numver that incorporates the run expectancy of groundballs and flyballs without regard for actual hits allowed, slugging percentage against, or even homeruns allowed?

    @64, that is basically the idea behind SIERA, Skill-Interactive ERA: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/siera/

    I tried to explain SIERA here. As it happens, SIERA usually looks a lot like xFIP. But methodologically, it does a lot of what you’re looking for.

    FIP is a blunt instrument. So is WHIP, or K/BB, or BABIP, for that matter. That doesn’t make them useless, it just means that they shouldn’t be viewed in isolation.

  48. I really don’t like the word “luck” in these discussions. Random distribution, statistical variance, things we don’t k now about, anything but “luck”. It just makes it sound like a tautology of things work like they should unless there is luck to change the outcome, and if the outcome is not the predicted one, then it must be a result of luck.

  49. This conversation makes me feel like Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford in that old SNL sketch of the Carter-Ford debate: (long pause) “I was told there would be no math…”

    Being a fan who has great respect for Sabermetrics on a conceptual level but whose grasp of statistics is loose at best, I do enjoy listening to you guys slug it out and trying to follow the discussion, much as I enjoy reading Stephen Hawking or Richard Feynman on cosmological or quantum physics concepts that push my comprehension to its very limits, if not beyond. I almost feel like I should pop some popcorn. Truly, thanks for the ongoing education!

  50. @64, 66 I imagine SIERA and xFIP end up looking a lot alike because xFIP does take into account flyball rate. With the advent of extremely granular (proprietary) batted ball data, it’s now possible to do a lot more to take into account the quality of pitches thrown and resulting batter contact in the statistical models – MLB front offices are definitely doing that, it’s just not filtered its way down to the masses. Then again, FIP and xFIP aren’t meant to be the best possible measure of pitching quality – they’re meant as quick and dirty methods to smooth out the variations in ERA.

  51. @67: Unexplained variance is fine with me, but I suspect “luck” works better for hotspur @68. It’s not so much what you call it as how you estimate it.

  52. @72 Well, I do have a vocabulary. I grok “unexplained variance” pretty well, thanks. :P

  53. By the way, I only just found this: baseball-reference has a tool where you can view all trades between two teams.

    So, we’ve had 27 transactions with the Southsiders over the past 78 years. Here’s the Braves’ trading history with the White Sox: http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/trade-partners.cgi?franch_ID_1=ATL&franch_ID_2=CHW

    (That’s nothing compared to our history with the Phillies, though. 50 different transactions since 1887. http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/trade-partners.cgi?franch_ID_1=ATL&franch_ID_2=PHI)

  54. It’s not that I’m against the advanced stats or am complaining that they are too nerdy. On the contrary, I think xFIP and a lot of the defensive stats remind me of curve-fitting without consideration of causation.

    My reasoning is exactly as described by @70. Ridiculously fined-grained pitch type/velocity/location/etc and batted-ball type/velocity/direction/etc exist and defensive positioning/distance-traveled/etc are being used by a lot of front offices (I would think the vast majority?). Those are the numbers I want to see.

  55. Most sources are saying we’re off Peavy and it’s all about left-handed bullpen help. I’m good with that.

  56. The rational economic argument about trading within one’s own division would more or less say: Your opponents will find ways to get better, with or without you engaging them. So worry about yourself, and don’t cut off your nose to spite your face by limiting your options.

    But any economic evaluation assumes rational actors.

    Has anyone so far observed Ruin Tomorrow Junior to be a rational actor?

  57. I think calling it curve-fitting without causation is fair. Of course, that’s exactly what Bill James did: just about every formula he ever came up with was just an attempt at a rough measure of observable reality. There’s no theory of causation in Game Score. But it’s still a useful number if you’re trying to come up with a rank ordering.

  58. Ruin Tomorrow Junior has done a lot more dumb things than smart things, in my estimation, and bringing in Delmon Young and Michael Young to spit-shine the offense is only the latest example. I certainly don’t mind the idea of trading with him, I’m just worried that he’d ask the moon because it’s in-division.

  59. I think Amaro would not trade a big name to us, even if our package was the best one on the table, because I suspect Ruben Amaro to be a dog in a man suit.

  60. I’d take Cliff Lee if we didn’t give anything in return other than money. I wonder if the Phillies will get better offers than that.

  61. Ruin Tomorrow, Jr. is doing a fine job of keeping the Phillies around .500 for the foreseeable future.

  62. Yasiel Puig has taken over the league’s douchiest player honors, surprisingly out-douching Bryce Harper. He just hit a walk-off homer in the 11th and slid home. Yep. Slid home.

    There was also an epic bat flip and both arms thrown into the air immediately after contact (makes Klesko’s look pedestrian almost).

    The entire body of work there is somewhat impressive the more I think about it. You don’t see show-boating like that all in one play very often. I’m guessing the Reds *loved* it.

  63. Well, ESPN is already doing better than FOX. They managed to bring up the infield-fly play without immediately claiming that it was the right call. Also, John Kruk isn’t there tonight (always a good thing) and Dave O’Brien is in for Dan Schulman (also a good thing IMO). It’s just O’Brien and Hershiser, so no three-man booth (also a good thing).

  64. Jim Powell “Very rarely to we say ‘Bad decision by a Braves baserunner, there.'”

    That’s because you’re a homer who doesn’t call it as you see it, Jim.

  65. @93: I think they do have a lot of guys who get a lot out of limited speed because they’re smart baserunners. Uggla is a prime example. But they’ve also got Simmons, who is moderately fast but makes all kinds of bad decisions on the basepaths.

  66. Oh I wasn’t trying to make a comment about our bad baserunning. I agree with you, there.

    I’m just saying that they “rarely say ‘bad decision by a Braves player there,'” because they don’t say bad things about Braves players, ever.

  67. Bad thing is they were talking about Simmons aggressiveness on the paths last night as the basis for their discussion .

  68. Cardinals sure have a lot of guys that throw hard. I like our chances against a good fastball though. Hopefully he won’t be able to locate his breaking pitch much.

  69. So far, playing Jason in center has cost us two outs.

    (Not because of him, mind you. Because his replacement in right AIN’T him.)

  70. Jason would have caught that, and Andrelton is the best player on the team and will get better.

    Another fine double play.

  71. @112 Yeah, but it also won us a game against the Mets. Obviously there are trade-offs to any decision, but ultimately you want your best outfield defender in center.

  72. @117 – I’m really off with the sarcasm tonight. Again, I wasn’t criticizing the decision to play him in center. Just taking a swipe at Justin Upton for being the.. I dunno.. BJ Upton of rightfielders?

  73. Except that BJ actually was a pretty good glove in center, even if he’s an offensive black hole.

    JASON!! Only 9 on the season? He’s capable of so much more.

  74. Jason Heyward wonders who will be the best player on the team in a couple of years…

  75. @119 – I’m calling Justin Upton bad. I think he’s playing bad. So what I’m saying is, he’s bad. Bad at baseball, right now. Just. Bad.

    Justin Upton is bad.

  76. I think our guys have taken for a ball every single 0-2 pitch that Miller has thrown.

  77. I know it’s just a mental thing, but to me the lineup seem so much more formidable with JHey leading off. I love the fact that he’ll get the most AB’s and that the bottom of our lineup gets on base so often. When McCann and Gattis both play this is such a powerful looking lineup. I wouldn’t want to face us in the playoffs…

  78. Medlen needs this type of an outing to build confidence. He needs to get through 6-7 strong IP tonight.

  79. I never played on a team that did the ‘double-cut-off-men/first baseman covers 2nd’ play.

    I assume this is only done when second base is being conceded?

  80. Meds always giving up hits to pitchers!! Well actually to everyone but it just seems that say .

  81. That was a pop up that well in front of a catcher playing left field. It should have been caught.

    That’s done. Now get those runs back.

  82. That was going to happen eventually….dude needs to start hitting again to make it an even trade

  83. Yeah I’m just glad nobody got hurt. Simmons would’ve probably disintegrated if he’d have run full force into Gattis.

    Nice hustle there by Beltran making it all the way to first…

  84. Any left fielder, regardless of his speed, should take charge on that play. Even if it falls in front of him, but coming in tentatively, he caused Simmons to go at it tentatively, too.

    Yell “I got it,” and make him get out of the way. At least if you come up short, there’s no questions.

    EDIT: I think that’s what Tosca is over there saying to Gattis and Terds.

  85. Yeah tough spot for Evan there. It’s the leftfielder’s ball, but Simmons is Simmons, so his natural inclination was to defer.

  86. No matter how much instruction Gattis gets, he’ll always suffer from extremely limited range. He’s a good catcher but a bad, borderline awful, LF.

  87. If anybody needed a 5 hopper to get through the hole, it was Justin Upton. Gotta get him going.

  88. @159 – I can’t say for sure, but I believe that if he had decided he was catching that ball, and Simmons had pulled off, he would have made the play. They both played it side saddle and missed by 3 feet.

  89. I was hoping Johnson might foul off 18 pitches and run Miller’s pitch count up to like 135.

  90. Is anybody still under the unfortunate misconception that CJ is all BABIP luck? That was a professional AB right there.

  91. I’m still unconvinced that Terds is a better option than a pitcher.

  92. So many infield flies this game that have not been called (or caught). Clearly, these umps did not get the memo.

  93. @182 Looks like we’re cashing in some BABIP / RISP luck! I’ll take it.

    EDIT: Jeebus! It’s raining singles!

  94. Justin, try to hit it… like more towards the outfield walls and less 5 miles straight up.

  95. I know Terdoslavich is a name ripe for nicknames (Terd Sandwich, anyone?) But I kinda want to call him Scut Farkus.

  96. Can’t complain about Fredi’s decisions at all this series. Spot on with the lineup, when to PH for the starters, and the bullpen guys. Lets finish off this sweep

  97. I know he doesn’t have the best glove (I’ve called him Edward Scissorhands), but Chris Johnson is probably the best player in the NL who didn’t make the All-Star roster this year.

    At the very least Johnson>Prado, right?

  98. Chris and Randall have been the prizes of the trade. Martin and Jupton were the throw ins.

  99. @198—He hasn’t looked that bad with the glove the past several games (actually at times he’s looked rather good) [*knock on wood*]. Also, in his past 29 games he’s hitting .373. I can live with this type of regression, no problem.

  100. @198, Shin-Soo Choo probably begs to differ, but CJ’s magical season has been fun to watch.

  101. Yeah CJ is accelerating away from the mean. That inside-out swing of his may just win him a batting title. I love having a bottom of the order that can do damage. I would keep this lineup exactly as it is. When BJ comes back there will be some shuffling but this Heyward-leading-off-thing looks pretty damn good to me.

  102. I would just also mention that CJ shows some mighty fine GM/Managing prowess. The decision to let Juan go was not without risk — it requires confidence that what you saw from CJ wasn’t just a fluke, that his defense was fixable (enough) and that a platoon was not going to be helpful. They pulled that trigger pretty early, and well.

  103. 209 — I don’t think they wanted to let Fat Juan go, but there was a roster crunch.

  104. Earlier in the season I felt CJ would fall off, but so long as he keeps punching the ball into right like he has been then I’m a believer. His swing reminds me a lot of Julio Franco.

  105. Maybe standing 18 feet away while Chris Johnson does his thing will help show Andrelton how to use his high-contact, medium-power skill set to it’s maximum potential.

  106. I won’t really let myself think about this for another 6 weeks or so, but if it comes down to a Cardinal winning the batting title or CJ, I’ll be rooting my heart out for CJ. Who would have guessed I would have even been able to write that sentence at the end of July?

  107. With two outs, as soon as the third baseman was out of the picture, i was yelling at my tv “JUST KEEP RUNNING!”

    So. I’ll take credit for that, thanks.

  108. I love beating the Cardinals. It never, ever gets old.

    Edit: Oh, dear. Not another outfielder down.

  109. BTW, I’m very much enjoying the ESPN announcing crew today, especially Hershiser (that’s Hershiser’s voice I’m hearing, right?). Good analysis and none of the blatant Braves-bashing you get with Joe Morgan.

  110. Random observation, given that you for the most part see pitchers all alone out on the mound (TV wise), you don’t really notice just how damn big Jordan Walden is until he’s hugging Freddie.

  111. Yeah, ESPN DOB and Hershiser have been pretty good tonight. Why they felt the need to normally throw Kruk in there with a 3-man booth, God only knows.

  112. I found Hershiser to be just making things up a couple of times, and I thought they totally misread Medlen’s frustration with himself as “throwing Gattis under the bus.”

  113. Just what the doctor ordered for the Braves after Huddy’s injury and a tough road trip: a sweep of the Cards! On national TV, no less. With some sweet defense and timely hitting. Life is good.

  114. Hershiser saying that Shelby Miller should still be in the minors also was a bit silly.

  115. I didn’t listen to the ESPN guys. Watched it and listened to Jim and Lemke.

    It was pretty obvious to me that Medlen was fuming about giving up a double to the pitcher. I think he’d be the first to say “If I do my job, that pop fly never happens.”

  116. Wow, probably most satisfying weekend series of the year?

    Two things:
    The new 92.9 FM The Game (not sure of the AM dial) has done a decent job of covering the Braves in its first year (maybe not its first year?). However, the afternoon gang had brought on a 12-year-old sports prodigy not too long ago to give commentary on local teams. If you think you hear too many cliches on your standard sports radio…then you have not heard it from a 12-year-old perspective. As he rattles through his different views, he makes the claim that the Braves would “certainly be” the 3rd or 4th team in the standings if they were in the Central. At the time, the Braves possessed a 12-6 (I believe) record vs the Central…but I figured the kid was reading from what several talking heads (ignorant) were saying at the time. Well guess what, suck it kid & talking heads: Bravos just kicked the Cards ass.

    Secondly:
    Not sure about the average fan, but I caught myself thinking that “man, I’m glad injuries haven’t crushed us this year” feeling not too long ago. Of course, the Huddy injury changes the perspective quickly. But I think the fact that we haven’t seen Venters and O’Flaherty much (if at all) this year (and we won’t see them at all) makes it easy to forget those big losses. Well, that and the remarkable job that the rest of the pen has done in executing. Dang though, losing 3 big arms for the year…and given the lineup injuries (Gattis & Upton): damn! Had you told me these predictions back in March, I’d have told you we’d be 8 games out.

    Sweeping the Cards…wow. ESPN did not like that.

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