Cy Young candidate? (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
We last looked at the Braves on April 23, and hardly anything has changed related to the starting eight. They have gone through two different rookie shortstop and had to trade for Paul Janish but other then that, this team is the same team we saw back in April. So just some quick notes as we prepare to play the team that I'd pick as the front runner for who will represent the NL in the World Series. They did lose Brandon Beachy to Tommy John so they went out and acquired Paul Maholm. Before that, they picked up Scrapmetal Sheets when out of the blue he decided to pitch again.
- Braves are 28 - 13 since July 1, including 10-5 in August
- Four games back of the Nationals, the Braves sit on top of the Wild Card Race
- The Braves have a three-game winning streak at the hands of the Padres where they outscored the Padres 18 - 1, scoring exactly six runs in every game.
- Ryan Dempster said no, so they acquired his teammate Paul Maholm who has pitched 23 innings in just three starts, giving up only 4 earned runs and causing the team to go to a six man rotation.
- Ben Sheets the ultimate reclamation project has made six starts and gone at least six innings in every start.
- Why a six-man rotation? Because Kris Medlen has also pitched fantastic since being moved in to the rotation where he's made four starts and not allowed more then one run in any of them
- Chipper Jones bobble head day was yesterday and Chipper hit not one but two home runs to celebrate. Chipper is having one the greatest farewell seasons in memory.
- Offensively this team is on fire in Aug with six of the starting eight posting an wOBA over .350 with only Brian McCann and defensive first shortstop Paul Janish not joining the party. Yet while McCann struggles mightily (.400 OPS in Aug), his backup David Ross is putting up a .866 OPS in Aug.
- The bench is as solid as it comes with Juan Francisco able to give Chipper plenty of rest and providing plenty of offense when he does, Eric Hinkse is still around, and they added Reed Johnson to replace google maps challenged Matt Diaz. Taylor Pastornicky the starting shortstop in April is the backup middle infielder.
The bullpen is anchored by the outstanding Craig Kimbrel, who has three solid left handers to help him get him the lead in Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, and Luis Avilan. Christian Martinez and Chad Durbin fill out the bullpen. This team is built to keep Andre from doing any damage past the sixth inning in a close game. Not that it takes a lefty to keep Andre toothless these days. This is a well rested bullpen since the trio of starters against the Padres were able to pitch a combined 25 innings, Kimbrell/Venters have not pitched since Tuesday.
Craig Kimbrel has been as close to unhittable as any relief pitcher in baseball since he arrived in 2010. Since 2010 Kimbrel is the only relief pitcher with over 200 strikeouts and an ERA+ over 200. Venters is not to bad himself, this is one team you don't want to trail after seven innings or you can case the game good bye.
This could easily be two teams who meet in the postseason, should be a fun series now that the Dodgers have added major league talent to the starting team but with the Padres putting up little resistance this week the Braves are also a well rested team.