Braves in April: Not good

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

No team wants to start the season 13-15 after one month, but for the Braves, it’s actually an improvement on last season.

On May 1, 2010, the Braves were an ugly 9-14, including a nine-game losing streak towards the end of April. They went on to win the NL Wild Card, so it isn’t unusual (and shouldn’t be alarming) to see these guys start slowly.

By June 1 of last season, the Braves were 29-22 and making their run up the standings in the NL East, so we can only hope May will be the month where it all clicks — again.

I fully believe that a fan should know how good or bad his or her team is by June 1. If they are well below .500 and struggling against everyone, then there’s a 98 percent chance that you’ve already seen who your team will be the rest of the way. The same is true for good teams.

So the Braves are halfway to being what we’re afraid they are — really mediocre.

But there are reasons to believe that May will be a much better month, and that the Braves can make a run into the summer.

First, the headaches. Pitching coach Roger McDowell has been asked to stay away from the team after an alleged run-in with fans in San Francisco, and pitcher Derek Lowe was arrested for a DUI last week as well. Lowe pitches today and will likely face a suspension from Major League Baseball at some point, but eventually, these headaches should cease. When that happens, the distractions should lessen and the team will be able to focus on baseball.

Also, injuries. Jair Jurrjens has been great so far, but he dealt with injuries all spring and missed time into the beginning of the regular season, so maybe he will get even better as the season goes on. Peter Moylan was a great set-up man for the Braves last season, but he has been out all year.

The pitchers have combined for one hit this season. The No. 9 spot in the batting order isn’t normally too productive, but it shouldn’t be that bad. We have a pitching staff that usually hits fairly well, so they need to start flipping the batting order if they expect to get more run support.

The pinch-hitting hasn’t been good, either. Aside from Eric Hinske batting .269, the rest of the pinch-hitters haven’t been getting hits at key points in the ballgame. Brandon Hicks is 0-for-7. Brooks Conrad is 1-for-12. Matt Young is 2-for-19. These guys made a living off comeback wins a year ago — they can’t do that again unless the pinch-hitters start hitting.

Dan Uggla has to start hitting the ball. We brought him in to add to the power numbers, and while his five homers is second to only Jason Heyward, his .194 batting average is the worst in the starting lineup.

13-15 isn’t what any of us hoped for, but there’s a long way to go. There are plenty of improvements to be made, so we can hope to see a few in May.

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