Braves’ current record: 76-59 (2nd in NL East, 6.5 games behind Washington Nationals)
August 27: Lost 3-0 at San Diego Padres
August 28: Won 2-0 at San Diego Padres
August 29: Lost 8-2 at San Diego Padres
August 31: Lost 8-5 vs. Philadelphia Phillies (10 innings)
September 1: Lost 5-1 vs. Philadelphia Phillies
September 2: Won 8-7 vs. Philadelphia Phillies
September 3: Won 6-1 vs. Colorado Rockies
This week’s offensive output defined the word “anemic.” They were held to two runs or less in all three games against mediocre San Diego. Before storming back to capture an insane last-second victory over the Phillies Sunday night, the Braves were dead in the water in that series, too. And after one game in the series against the Rockies, the Braves have just four hits, although they scored six runs.
It’s an alarming trend, because as the postseason draws nearer, opponents’ pitching will only get stronger. The Braves have plenty of scrubs left on their schedule, but they can’t even count on second baseman Dan Uggla to be good enough to start, let alone hoping to rely on his bat in situations where they need a big hit.
Chipper Jones can’t play every game, so there will be nights where he won’t be available to set the tone early in a game (sure, he could pinch-hit, but that would come later in the ballgame). Catcher Brian McCann has been lousy for the better part of a month, homerless since July 31. If these bats don’t all miraculously wake up before the playoffs begin, it’s going to be a big liability for the Braves, and opposing pitchers are going to feast on this lineup.
The reason why this grade stayed higher than the grade I assigned to the offense was because of one pitcher: Kris Medlen.
Monday afternoon, Medlen’s streak of consecutive innings finally came to a close, at 34.2 innings. Thirty-four and two-thirds! That’s almost four full games worth of shutouts! Among the starting rotation, he was the only bright spot this week.
Medlen picked up wins in two of the Braves’ three victories this week, and reliever Peter Moylan picked up the other one. Tommy Hanson earned a loss, Tim Hudson earned a loss and Paul Maholm should have earned two losses (though he settled for one). The pitchers have been getting pounced on early, and that’s not good when you have a lineup behind you that can’t hit. Maholm and Hudson will be fine — it’s still Hanson I’m worried about.
Hanson went winless in his three August starts after he returned from the disabled list, and he hasn’t logged seven innings in a single outing since July 7. Hopefully, this isn’t a sign that Hanson is still injured, because from now until the end of the season, any time is an inopportune time to miss an outing or more due to injury.
Without a doubt, there were some miscues in the field this week, but for all their shortcomings at the plate, this team doesn’t have to worry about their gloves becoming a problem. Their 66 errors are far ahead of the National League average (85), and they continue to sit atop the league in fielding.
The week ahead:
Tuesday: vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday: vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:10 p.m.
Thursday: vs. Colorado Rockies, 12:10 p.m.
Friday: at New York Mets, 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: at New York Mets, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: at New York Mets, 1:10 p.m.