Tough week for the Braves ends well

Could two teams who don’t play very often really have this many problems with each other?  That was an exciting split with the Cubs, after a dull and disappointing 1-3 series with the Marlins.  With the Mets struggling, the Braves moved within 2.5 games of the division lead despite losing five of eight this week.

This Week’s Stats

Game summaries and stats from FanGraphs:

6/4: Marlins 6, Braves 4
6/5 (Game 1): Braves 3, Marlins 1
6/5 (Game 2): Marlins 5, Braves 1
6/6: Marlins 7, Braves 4
6/7: Cubs 2, Braves 1
6/8: Cubs 8, Braves 1
6/9: Braves 9, Cubs 5
6/10: Braves 5, Cubs 4

Stats for the week alone:

Hitting PA AVG OBP SLG OPS WPA pLI WPA/LI Clutch pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch
Kelly Johnson 32 0.185 0.313 0.370 0.683 -0.204 1.02 -0.057 -0.147 -0.64 -0.18 -0.46
Edgar Renteria 28 0.208 0.321 0.500 0.821 -0.001 0.95 +0.001 -0.002 -0.00 +0.00 -0.01
Willie Harris 18 0.400 0.444 0.533 0.978 +0.413 1.18 +0.225 +0.188 +2.29 +1.25 +1.05
Brian McCann 17 0.286 0.412 0.286 0.697 -0.000 1.09 -0.008 +0.008 -0.00 -0.05 +0.05
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 18 0.389 0.389 0.667 1.056 +0.405 1.06 +0.186 +0.219 +2.25 +1.03 +1.22
Yunel Escobar 34 0.355 0.412 0.516 0.928 +0.037 1.06 +0.167 -0.130 +0.11 +0.49 -0.38
Jeff Francoeur 33 0.233 0.303 0.300 0.603 -0.334 1.06 -0.300 -0.034 -1.01 -0.91 -0.10
Peter Moylan 1 0.000 1.000 0.000 1.000 +0.011 0.41 +0.027 -0.016 +1.10 +2.68 -1.58
Lance Cormier 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.024 0.94 -0.026 +0.002 -2.40 -2.55 +0.15
Scott Thorman 29 0.241 0.241 0.276 0.517 -0.114 0.87 -0.208 +0.094 -0.39 -0.72 +0.32
Buddy Carlyle 5 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.163 1.23 -0.133 -0.030 -3.26 -2.65 -0.61
Kyle Davies 1 0.000 1.000 0.000 1.000 +0.022 0.86 +0.026 -0.004 +2.20 +2.56 -0.36
Tim Hudson 3 1.000 0.667 1.500 2.167 +0.130 1.19 +0.170 -0.040 +4.33 +5.66 -1.32
Andruw Jones 35 0.161 0.257 0.387 0.644 -0.207 1.05 -0.172 -0.035 -0.59 -0.49 -0.10
John Smoltz 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.013 0.50 -0.026 +0.013 -1.30 -2.60 +1.30
Chuck James 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.037 0.71 -0.052 +0.015 -1.85 -2.61 +0.76
Matt Diaz 20 0.263 0.300 0.263 0.563 -0.257 0.81 -0.164 -0.093 -1.29 -0.82 -0.46
Pete Orr 6 0.000 0.167 0.000 0.167 -0.114 0.88 -0.089 -0.025 -1.90 -1.48 -0.42
Chris Woodward 12 0.083 0.083 0.333 0.417 -0.250 1.19 -0.150 -0.100 -2.08 -1.25 -0.83
Totals 296 0.245 0.314 0.389 0.703 -0.700 1.02 -0.583 -0.117 -0.24 -0.20 -0.04
Total Pitching G GS IP ERA WHIP WPA pLI WPA/LI Clutch pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch
Rafael Soriano 3 0 3.0 0.00 0.33 +0.143 0.67 +0.178 -0.035 +1.43 +1.78 -0.35
Peter Moylan 4 0 7.0 1.29 0.71 +0.268 0.73 +0.245 +0.023 +1.07 +0.98 +0.09
John Smoltz 1 1 6.0 3.00 0.50 +0.060 0.78 +0.171 -0.111 +0.29 +0.81 -0.53
Tyler Yates 3 0 3.0 0.00 1.67 +0.109 0.75 +0.073 +0.036 +0.78 +0.52 +0.26
Chuck James 1 1 7.0 2.57 1.29 +0.168 1.04 +0.135 +0.033 +0.58 +0.47 +0.11
Tim Hudson 2 2 8.0 11.25 2.13 -0.869 1.19 -0.348 -0.521 -2.07 -0.83 -1.24
Bob Wickman 3 0 3.0 0.00 0.67 +0.261 1.31 +0.123 +0.138 +2.37 +1.12 +1.25
Macay McBride 2 0 1.3 0.00 0.75 +0.034 0.38 +0.070 -0.036 +0.68 +1.39 -0.71
Blaine Boyer 4 0 4.0 2.25 1.50 +0.058 0.49 -0.076 +0.134 +0.32 -0.42 +0.74
Chad Paronto 4 0 5.3 3.38 1.50 +0.025 0.37 -0.084 +0.109 +0.11 -0.37 +0.47
Buddy Carlyle 2 2 13.3 3.38 0.90 +0.055 1.00 +0.124 -0.069 +0.11 +0.24 -0.13
Oscar Villarreal 2 0 2.3 11.57 3.00 -0.074 0.41 -0.162 +0.088 -0.53 -1.15 +0.63
Lance Cormier 1 1 3.7 12.27 3.00 -0.291 0.90 -0.618 +0.327 -1.32 -2.81 +1.49
Kyle Davies 1 1 5.0 9.00 1.60 -0.257 0.76 -0.187 -0.070 -1.12 -0.81 -0.31
Totals 33 8 72.0 4.50 1.32 -0.310 0.84 -0.355 +0.045 -0.10 -0.12 +0.01
Relief Pitching G IP TBF gmLI G/T tG/T USG
Rafael Soriano 3 3.0 10 0.93 1.25 2.01 0.76
Tyler Yates 3 3.0 14 0.67 0.90 1.15 0.24
Bob Wickman 3 3.0 11 1.64 2.21 1.56 -0.65
Peter Moylan 4 7.0 25 0.85 1.14 1.46 0.32
Macay McBride 2 1.3 5 0.75 1.01 1.74 0.74
Oscar Villarreal 2 2.3 14 0.25 0.34 0.00 -0.34
Blaine Boyer 4 4.0 18 0.41 0.55 0.50 -0.05
Chad Paronto 4 5.3 23 0.46 0.61 0.54 -0.07
Totals 25 29.0 120 0.74 9

And for the season total:

Hitting PA AVG OBP SLG OPS WPA pLI WPA/LI Clutch pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch
Kelly Johnson 270 0.286 0.389 0.489 0.878 +1.543 0.93 +1.498 +0.045 +0.57 +0.55 +0.02
Edgar Renteria 265 0.325 0.385 0.517 0.902 +1.452 0.99 +1.222 +0.230 +0.55 +0.46 +0.09
Willie Harris 106 0.398 0.462 0.527 0.989 +0.831 0.97 +0.627 +0.204 +0.78 +0.59 +0.19
Chipper Jones 186 0.300 0.392 0.625 1.017 +0.568 0.98 +0.977 -0.409 +0.31 +0.53 -0.22
Brian McCann 201 0.278 0.338 0.417 0.755 +0.497 1.03 -0.494 +0.991 +0.25 -0.25 +0.49
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 60 0.309 0.367 0.473 0.839 +0.403 0.97 +0.149 +0.254 +0.67 +0.25 +0.42
Yunel Escobar 42 0.333 0.381 0.487 0.868 +0.321 1.04 +0.231 +0.090 +0.76 +0.55 +0.21
Jeff Francoeur 274 0.282 0.332 0.437 0.769 +0.216 0.96 -0.147 +0.363 +0.08 -0.05 +0.13
Peter Moylan 3 0.000 0.333 0.000 0.333 -0.009 0.39 -0.027 +0.018 -0.30 -0.89 +0.59
Lance Cormier 2 0.000 0.500 0.000 0.500 -0.017 0.58 +0.008 -0.025 -0.85 +0.39 -1.24
Oscar Villarreal 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.055 0.84 -0.059 +0.004 -2.75 -2.94 +0.19
Anthony Lerew 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.072 0.88 -0.081 +0.009 -2.40 -2.70 +0.30
Mark Redman 6 0.000 0.167 0.000 0.167 -0.103 1.05 -0.090 -0.013 -1.72 -1.50 -0.21
Scott Thorman 190 0.228 0.258 0.389 0.647 -0.148 0.94 -0.150 +0.002 -0.08 -0.08 +0.00
Buddy Carlyle 7 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.227 1.31 -0.175 -0.052 -3.24 -2.51 -0.74
Kyle Davies 23 0.211 0.261 0.421 0.682 -0.240 0.87 -0.037 -0.203 -1.04 -0.16 -0.88
Martin Prado 30 0.179 0.233 0.179 0.412 -0.240 0.93 -0.286 +0.046 -0.80 -0.95 +0.15
Tim Hudson 33 0.214 0.242 0.286 0.528 -0.267 0.85 -0.169 -0.098 -0.81 -0.51 -0.30
Andruw Jones 272 0.225 0.331 0.437 0.768 -0.326 1.07 -0.059 -0.267 -0.12 -0.02 -0.10
John Smoltz 26 0.091 0.077 0.136 0.213 -0.357 0.73 -0.475 +0.118 -1.37 -1.83 +0.46
Chuck James 26 0.105 0.154 0.105 0.259 -0.405 0.89 -0.440 +0.035 -1.56 -1.69 +0.13
Craig Wilson 69 0.172 0.304 0.259 0.563 -0.441 0.93 -0.345 -0.096 -0.64 -0.50 -0.14
Matt Diaz 148 0.329 0.345 0.450 0.795 -0.469 0.95 +0.208 -0.677 -0.32 +0.14 -0.46
Brayan Pena 23 0.217 0.217 0.348 0.565 -0.507 1.42 -0.304 -0.203 -2.20 -1.32 -0.88
Pete Orr 48 0.196 0.229 0.217 0.447 -0.533 0.65 -0.427 -0.106 -1.11 -0.89 -0.22
Chris Woodward 87 0.210 0.230 0.296 0.526 -0.671 1.02 -0.663 -0.008 -0.77 -0.76 -0.01
Ryan Langerhans 52 0.068 0.192 0.091 0.283 -0.674 0.89 -0.843 +0.169 -1.30 -1.62 +0.32
Totals 2454 0.266 0.331 0.428 0.760 +0.070 0.97 -0.351 +0.421 +0.00 -0.01 +0.02
Total Pitching G GS IP ERA WHIP WPA pLI WPA/LI Clutch pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch
Rafael Soriano 28 0 28.0 2.25 0.61 +2.465 1.29 +1.216 +1.249 +2.47 +1.22 +1.25
Peter Moylan 24 0 33.3 2.43 1.08 +0.927 0.65 +0.157 +0.770 +0.70 +0.12 +0.58
John Smoltz 13 13 82.7 2.83 1.21 +0.912 1.12 +0.903 +0.009 +0.26 +0.26 +0.00
Tyler Yates 30 0 28.7 3.45 1.19 +0.828 0.91 +0.397 +0.431 +0.68 +0.33 +0.36
Mike Gonzalez 18 0 17.0 1.06 1.35 +0.738 0.99 +0.413 +0.325 +1.05 +0.59 +0.46
Chuck James 13 13 71.3 3.66 1.50 +0.698 1.04 +0.206 +0.492 +0.22 +0.07 +0.16
Tim Hudson 14 14 92.3 3.51 1.17 +0.380 0.96 +1.484 -1.104 +0.10 +0.39 -0.29
Bob Wickman 23 0 21.3 2.53 1.36 +0.261 1.86 +0.269 -0.008 +0.28 +0.29 -0.01
Macay McBride 13 0 11.3 4.76 2.12 +0.168 0.41 -0.032 +0.200 +0.28 -0.05 +0.34
Blaine Boyer 4 0 4.0 2.25 1.50 +0.058 0.49 -0.076 +0.134 +0.32 -0.42 +0.74
Kevin Barry 1 0 2.0 22.50 4.00 -0.007 0.02 -0.230 +0.223 -0.05 -1.64 +1.59
Chad Paronto 24 0 21.0 6.43 1.90 -0.071 0.68 -0.559 +0.488 -0.07 -0.57 +0.50
Buddy Carlyle 4 3 18.3 4.91 1.15 -0.222 1.01 +0.123 -0.345 -0.30 +0.16 -0.46
Anthony Lerew 3 3 11.7 7.71 1.80 -0.343 0.88 -0.534 +0.191 -0.60 -0.94 +0.34
Oscar Villarreal 22 0 30.0 4.20 1.53 -0.398 0.62 -0.409 +0.011 -0.29 -0.30 +0.01
Steve Colyer 7 0 3.7 4.91 3.55 -0.537 0.98 -0.309 -0.228 -2.44 -1.40 -1.04
Lance Cormier 2 2 7.7 15.26 2.74 -0.633 0.76 -1.051 +0.418 -1.51 -2.50 +0.99
Kyle Davies 11 11 62.7 5.31 1.50 -1.033 0.95 -0.738 -0.295 -0.37 -0.27 -0.11
Mark Redman 6 5 21.7 11.63 2.26 -1.293 0.94 -1.239 -0.054 -1.11 -1.07 -0.05
Totals 260 64 568.7 4.23 1.40 +2.898 0.96 -0.009 +2.907 +0.12 -0.00 +0.12
Relief Pitching G IP TBF gmLI G/T tG/T USG
Rafael Soriano 28 28.0 100 1.60 1.51 1.64 0.13
Mike Gonzalez 18 17.0 70 1.04 0.98 1.28 0.30
Tyler Yates 30 28.7 121 1.10 1.04 1.13 0.10
Bob Wickman 23 21.3 94 1.59 1.50 1.11 -0.40
Buddy Carlyle 1 1.0 4 0.58 0.55 1.04 0.49
Peter Moylan 24 33.3 132 0.77 0.73 1.01 0.29
Macay McBride 13 11.3 59 0.81 0.77 0.91 0.14
Oscar Villarreal 22 30.0 135 0.73 0.69 0.77 0.08
Blaine Boyer 4 4.0 18 0.41 0.39 0.70 0.31
Chad Paronto 24 21.0 98 0.79 0.74 0.62 -0.13
Steve Colyer 7 3.7 22 1.01 0.96 0.14 -0.82
Kevin Barry 1 2.0 14 0.03 0.03 0.00 -0.03
Totals 195 201.3 867 1.06 42

Biggest plays of the week:

  1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a 2-run homer off Renyel Pinto, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead in the 7th inning of the Braves’ win in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader (+.392).
  2. Willie Harris scored on a wild pitch by Ryan Dempster for the go-ahead run in the 8th inning of yesterday’s win (+.212).
  3. Scott Thorman doubled in Salty earlier in the same inning against Dempster, making the score 4-3 Cubs (+.205).
  4. In between those events in the same inning, Willie Harris singled, advancing Scott Thorman to third (+.159).
  5. Yunel Escobar homered off Wes Obermueller, temporarily giving the Braves the lead in Monday’s eventual loss (+.129).

Comments

When Tim Hudson is one of your three best hitters for a given week, you know it hasn’t been a good week.  In fairness to Hudson, he was 2-for-3 with a double, but only two Braves hitters had better WPA weeks: Willie Harris and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both cleared +.400 with similarly great weeks of split time at left field and catcher.  Harris was the leader at +.413 with a hitting line of .400/.444/.533, while Salty managed a +.405 week with a line of .389/.389/.667.  Both had 18 plate appearances.  Harris is now comfortably in third on the team with +.831 WPA on the season (and the leader on a leverage-neutral basis per PA), while Salty is sixth at +.403.  Salty’s homer on Tuesday was by far the biggest play of the week, and its timeliness gave it a huge impact on his WPA.

Yunel Escobar was the only hitter to clear zero in WPA with a full week’s playing time, and he finished at +.037.  He’s seventh on the team now in WPA, and he’s off to an awfully fast start.  Hopefully he will continue to see some playing time around the infield after Chipper returns to the lineup (perhaps as early as tomorrow).

McCann and Renteria basically treaded water for the week, and both are battling injuries, so that’s not really so bad.  Renteria was hit in the hand by a Ted Lilly pitch over the weekend, and McCann continues to sit occasionally for Saltalamacchia.

Thorman continued his below-average play, with a line of .241/.241/.276 lowering his OPS to .647 this season, which is unacceptable at first base.  I’m assuming that the Braves will stick with him for now, but he’s a pretty big drag on the lineup at the moment, and he doesn’t exactly play a premium defensive position.  Unless the Braves consider him the 1B of the future (I don’t think they do), it might be time to consider someone else there.  I know Salty has been the one taking grounders there, but it’s possible that McCann might be the catcher who needs to switch, based on his defensive struggles.  I don’t see that happening, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Kelly Johnson and Andruw Jones had fairly rough weeks, with both of them slightly under -.200 for the week.  Johnson is still the batting WPA team leader at +1.543, and Andruw is now at -.326.  If you think Yunel Escobar is doing well so far, consider that Kelly has been every bit as good in pWPA/LI (leverage-neutral WPA per plate appearance) in far more at bats.

Diaz and Francoeur had the toughest time of all the regulars, despite hitting lines that don’t look terrible.  Together, they were nearly a full win below average.  Despite his .329 average, Diaz has the lowest WPA of any Braves hitter with more than 100 plate appearances, and only Woodward and Orr on the current roster have been worse.  His poor WPA is mostly the result of faltering in clutch situations, though, as his WPA/LI is actually positive for the year.

On the pitching staff, Tim Hudson had a forgettable pair of starts, Buddy Carlyle suffered a letdown in his second start after a great one, and Davies and Cormier had some tough times.  That leaves only Smoltz and Chuck James as this week’s good pitchers, with a single solid start each.  James actually surpassed Hudson in WPA for the season (+.698 to +.380), even though the latter still leads the staff in WPA/LI.  The culprit is poor pitching in close games, as Hudson’s -1.104 Clutch rating shows.  To put that in perspective, only two Braves (Johnson and Renteria) have a higher positive WPA than Hudson’s negative Clutch rating.

Peter Moylan had seven strong innings of relief work, and the back-end trio of Wickman, Soriano, and Yates, combined to allow zero runs this week.  Macay McBride didn’t allow a run in 1.3 innings, Blaine Boyer was decent, and only Villarreal and Paronto struggled.  Wickman continues to live off of his “Closer” tag somewhat, and he has been used in more close situations than warranted based on his performance (based on his 1.50 game LI/total LI compared to a theoretical 1.11 if properly used, a usage score of -.39).  Among relievers with at least 10 appearances, he has been the least efficiently used arm out of the bullpen.  For comparison, Yates (1.04 vs. 1.19, USG of +0.09) and Villarreal (0.69/0.77/+0.08) have been the best-used.

The Road Ahead

The Braves go on an AL Central road trip this week in an unfortunate consequence of the unfair interleague schedule.  They’ll face two tough teams in Minnesota and Cleveland before coming home to face Boston and Detroit.  Here are the pitching matchups:

Tue @MIN: Davies vs. Kevin Slowey, who is one of the Twins’ top pitching prospects
Wed @MIN: James vs. Carlos Silva
Thu @MIN: Hudson vs. Johan Santana, who is better than anyone the Braves have faced in a long time
Fri @CLE: Smoltz vs. C.C. Sabathia, the Tribe’s ace
Sat @CLE: Cormier vs. Paul Byrd, who has been quite good this year
Sun @CLE: Davies vs. Fausto Carmona, who has been as good as Sabathia this year

It won’t be an easy week, but the Braves need to keep up the pressure or risk being passed by the Phillies.

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