Nothing like Bobby Cox bobbleheads to make your holiday weekend complete.
Gosh darn it, the Braves are just having the darndest second half. They just suffered their 10th shutout loss of the year and since the All-Star break they haven't even been able to stay at .500. Johnny Venters is about undergo his *third* Tommy John surgery, which honestly a better diagnosis than what was originally reported.
Bad news for Braves fans pic.twitter.com/xYwvRbdCcB— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) August 26, 2014
The Braves are never going to catch the Nationals, now that somebody bothered to take control of the NL East. No, they'll just sort of lie there, chanting quietly to themselves, a bit of drool forming at the corner of their mouths, until they either get eliminated stupidly or face plant into a Wild Card spot and lose in the first round.
But, it's only just September, so even though we may know the future, we still have to play out the stretch. Sadly, right now, that means going to Atlanta.
Freddie Freeman vs. Marlins .059 (3-for-51) vs. Rest of NL East .367 (51-for-166)— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 29, 2014
This is a big year for Freddie, since he learned how to read.
Upton may be entering one of his more fertile periods, going 6-for-19 in the past week, with a double, a home run, and five RBI. Over the past month, he's sitting at .307 with seven dingers and a 1.006 OPS. Not quite the nuclear attacks he's gone on in the past, but when your game is "swing until the strikes become home runs," you've got to take what you can get.
The Braves' hissy third baseman deserves some accolades for the mental gymnastics that allowed him to make this rather profound point:
Chris Johnson: "We either get on a roll or we get on a roll the other way. It’s something we’ve been trying to figure out all year." #Braves— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 27, 2014
Cole Hamels vs. Julio Teheran
Hamels' last start was just the most recent of his terrific year - 7 IP, 3 ER, 5 SO, 1 BB. Against the Braves this year, he'd thrown 14 innings, allowing only 1 R, 9 H, and 2 BB with 15 SO. He remains the best starter to support with runs in hopes of a win, and one of the least likely to receive them. Also, he is most effective as a pitcher when he is left in the game.
Teheran has smothered the Phillies this year, allowing 2 ER in 24 innings, along 19 SO and zero walks. Also, his pickoff move is borderline "improper" according to Terry Collins. But on the other hand,
Kyle Kendrick vs. Mike Minor
Look, we all want Kyle Kendrick to go away, but at least this time it doesn't feel like he just pitched yesterday. You think one of these times, Kyle's gonna figure it out, but now it's September, and it seems more likely he'll just limp to the finish line. It's that first inning - his ERA hit double digits after his last start, making it a part of plenty of fun little factoids, like this one.
Minor just retired the first 12 batters he faced in his last start, the first Brave to do that since, of course, Julio Teheran, back in April against the, of course, Phillies. He wound up carrying a shutout into the eighth before beating the Mets 6-1. This is a nice turnaround for Minor, who was getting pounded by teams like the Padres just earlier this month.
Geeze, not even Kyle gets so self-pitying, and people don't stop telling him he's terrible, even when he does okay. Get a hold of yourself, Minor.
David Buchanan vs. Ervin Santana
Rounding out the three starting pitchers who have all openly been irritated by Ryne Sandberg is Buchanan, who was not thrilled to be yanked out of his last start after 64 pitches. He looked on point, as he has in his last ten starts, during all of which he hasn't given up more than three runs. Better still,
Woah just saw David Buchanan on 18th and Chestnut and he's even more of a stud in person— mare (@ScarletMcKfever) August 26, 2014
Santana is apparently responsible for Minor's resurgence, after showing him a new grip to take on his change up. In his last 10ten games he's thrown 65 IP and allowed 21 ER. He keeps telling people to #SmellBaseball.
The Phillies don't mind the smell, having tagged him for 11 R, 9 ER, and 25 H in 24.2 innings and four starts this season.