In today’s game so much emphasis is put on offense. Fans want to see their teams putting up crooked numbers on the score board as often as possible. Braves fans experienced a major offensive drought to end the 2011 season which lead to what was one of the worst collapses in Major League Baseball history. Time after time the Braves just couldn’t score runs and it made it nearly impossible to win games.
This year seems to be a much different story. Sure there’s been a few games here and there where the team has struggled to find offense but over all we have very little to complain about. The Braves have been one of the more impressive offensive teams this season as you can see where they rank in the following categories.
RUNS: 142 (1st in MLB)
HITS: 250 (3rd in MLB)
HR: 29 (8th in MLB)
RBI: 137 (1st in MLB)
SB: 21 (6th in MLB)
AVG: .267 (5th in MLB)
OBP: .329 (10th in MLB)
SLG: .418 (9th in MLB)
As you can see the Braves rank in the top 10 in pretty much every offensive category. That’s very impressive if you ask me. To be in the top 10 in both HR and SB. To be in the top 10 in AVG and SLG. They have all bases covered with a very balanced offensive attacked.
However on the other side of the ball, the pitching staff hasn’t been quite as impressive. As you can see where they rank in some of the more important pitching stats.
ERA: 4.33 (23rd in MLB)
HITS: 253 (29th in MLB)
AVG: .275 (27th in MLB)
WHIP: 1.41 (25th in MLB)
RUNS: 124 (24th in MLB)
So as you can the Braves rank in the bottom 3rd of the league in 5 of the most important pitching stats. Is this cause for concern? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s only May 5th so the pitchers have plenty of time to settle down and get into a grove but right now it appears that it’s the offense that’s carrying this team, not the pitching. A much different story from what we experienced last year.
Below are the current stats for each member of the Braves current rotation and also the stats posted by Jair Jurrjens
Beachy: 2-1 with a 1.38era
Delgado: 2-3 with a 5.14era
Jurrjens: 0-2 with a 9.37era
Hanson: 3-2 with a 3.74era
Hudson: 1-0 with a 6.55era
Minor: 2-2 with a 4.68era
Right now you would have to label Beachy the unofficial “ace” of this staff. With Hudson still coming back from a back injury and Hanson still trying to settle in. Minor has shown flashes of brilliance but has yet to put it together for a string of consecutive starts. Jurrjens struggled so badly that he had to be moved down to AAA where he appears to be getting back on track. Delgado is shaky at best with his 5.14era but every start he puts under his belt should lead to him getting a little bit better.
Now this staff could transform into an elite staff very quickly. Don’t get me wrong. However if the numbers continue to stay in this neighborhood for each starter then you would have to think that Frank Wren will consider making a move at the deadline. All off season we wanted to see a move for a bat and I was no exception. But with the offense ranking in the top 10 in all major offensive categories you have to think that they will be alright going forward, especially with the depth that the line up possesses.
Adding another veteran arm to the rotation could be a good idea. Derek Lowe gave us that presence during the 2010 season where he basically carried the pitching staff for the entire month of Sept. Unfortunately Lowe completely fell apart on us last year and we had to part ways with him but would an experienced arm in the rotation benefit our playoff chances?
Here are some guys we could consider going after. Now keep in mind that Frank Wren won’t likely sell the farm for an elite ace and we won’t be able to obtain a pitcher from another team in the thick of a playoff race unless we give them players who will be of immediate benefit which I also see as an unlikely scenario.
A 33 year old starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently pitching to the tune of a 2-4 record but don’t let that deceive you. Bedard has posted an impressive 2.65era thus far and has been the victim of poor run support. His walk to strikeout ratio is also pretty impressive as he’s struck out 37 and has only walked 14. It’s unlikely that the Pirates will be in the playoffs race come July as I expect the Cardinals to pull way out in front by that point. So it’s possible he could be available. He’s also a lefty which would give us a 2nd left hander to compliment Mike Minor.
I’m staying in the N.L Central as I zoom in on the “ace” of the Chicago Cubs. Dempster is 35 years old so he certainly brings a veteran presence to the mound. He’s 0-1 thus far but like Bedard has been a victim of poor run support. A guy who has posted a 0.95era should have at least one win but that’s just my opinion. This is another guy with an impressive walk/strikeout ratio at 29-9. The Cubs have struggled thus far and I don’t see them having that big of a turn around over the next few months. Would they be willing to trade Dempster for a couple of prospects?
Switching over to the A.L now, this is another pitcher that I think could help bolster our rotation down the stretch. McCarthy will turn 29 in July just a few weeks before the trade deadline so he certainly has a better age angle then the other two pitchers I’ve mentioned. McCarthy is 2-3 but still holds an impressive ERA of 2.96. The A’s offense isn’t exactly explosive so he’s isn’t the beneficiary of outstanding run support by any means. Texas appears to be the clear cut favorite to win the A.L West and I doubt the A’s have enough to compete for one of those 2 Wild Card Spots. They have unloaded guys such as Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez for prospects to attempt to rebuild so McCarthy might be the next to go.
Let me know of some other names that you guys think could be of interest to Frank Wren and the Braves. I’d love to hear some feedback.
By: Bob McVinua