Braves finish up-and-down week against division rivals

The week started out quite well with a series win in New York, but the back end of the rotation was quite bad against the Phillies, so the Braves dropped two of three there.  Unfortunately, the team will have to play better than .500 baseball the rest of the way in order to make the playoffs.

This Week’s Stats

Scores and FanGraphs game summaries:

8/7: Braves 7, Mets 3
8/8: Mets 4, Braves 3
8/9: Braves 7, Mets 6
8/10: Phillies 5, Braves 4
8/11: Braves 7, Phillies 5
8/12: Phillies 5, Braves 3

Stats for the week alone:

Hitting PA OPS pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Chipper Jones 27 1.199 1.02 +0.550 +0.329 +0.221 +0.213 +2.04 +1.22 +0.82 +0.79
Brian McCann 26 0.679 0.81 +0.273 +0.002 +0.271 +0.271 +1.05 +0.01 +1.04 +1.04
Mark Teixeira 27 0.755 0.89 +0.178 -0.016 +0.194 +0.192 +0.66 -0.06 +0.72 +0.71
Chris Woodward 2 0.500 3.77 +0.167 +0.024 +0.143 +0.075 +8.35 +1.22 +7.13 +3.75
Martin Prado 7 1.429 0.84 +0.163 +0.123 +0.040 +0.060 +2.33 +1.75 +0.58 +0.86
Matt Diaz 14 1.055 0.89 +0.111 +0.156 -0.045 -0.028 +0.79 +1.12 -0.32 -0.20
Tim Hudson 3 0.833 1.08 +0.076 +0.062 +0.014 +0.009 +2.53 +2.07 +0.46 +0.30
Kelly Johnson 23 0.848 0.95 +0.025 +0.064 -0.039 -0.037 +0.11 +0.28 -0.17 -0.16
John Smoltz 2 0.500 0.76 -0.012 +0.006 -0.018 -0.017 -0.60 +0.31 -0.91 -0.84
Buddy Carlyle 4 0.583 0.63 -0.018 -0.041 +0.023 +0.008 -0.45 -1.02 +0.57 +0.19
Scott Thorman 2 1.500 1.12 -0.026 +0.035 -0.061 -0.066 -1.30 +1.77 -3.07 -3.28
Lance Cormier 2 0.000 0.68 -0.036 -0.053 +0.017 -0.000 -1.80 -2.66 +0.86 -0.00
Chuck James 2 0.000 0.81 -0.041 -0.051 +0.010 +0.000 -2.05 -2.53 +0.48 +0.00
Willie Harris 16 1.000 1.08 -0.066 +0.074 -0.140 -0.146 -0.41 +0.47 -0.88 -0.92
Jeff Francoeur 26 1.115 0.90 -0.068 +0.079 -0.147 -0.139 -0.26 +0.30 -0.57 -0.53
Yunel Escobar 25 0.490 0.99 -0.376 -0.235 -0.141 -0.144 -1.50 -0.94 -0.56 -0.58
Andruw Jones 26 0.401 1.15 -0.813 -0.272 -0.541 -0.499 -3.13 -1.05 -2.08 -1.92
Totals 234 0.826 0.97 +0.087 +0.289 -0.202 -0.247 +0.04 +0.12 -0.09 -0.11
Total Pitching IP ERA pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Oscar Villarreal 2.7 0.00 1.39 +0.280 +0.202 +0.078 -0.002 +3.50 +2.53 +0.97 -0.02
John Smoltz 6.3 2.84 1.20 +0.138 +0.069 +0.069 +0.055 +0.53 +0.26 +0.27 +0.21
Bob Wickman 1.0 0.00 2.47 +0.097 +0.024 +0.073 +0.038 +2.43 +0.60 +1.83 +0.95
Ron Mahay 3.3 0.00 2.16 +0.065 +0.105 -0.040 -0.161 +0.50 +0.81 -0.31 -1.24
Octavio Dotel 1.0 0.00 0.50 +0.037 +0.073 -0.036 +0.000 +1.23 +2.44 -1.21 +0.01
Manuel Acosta 1.0 0.00 0.21 +0.016 +0.076 -0.060 -0.000 +0.53 +2.55 -2.01 -0.00
Chuck James 6.0 6.00 0.94 +0.014 +0.093 -0.079 -0.074 +0.06 +0.39 -0.33 -0.31
Tim Hudson 6.0 4.50 1.20 +0.012 -0.030 +0.042 +0.048 +0.04 -0.11 +0.15 +0.17
Tyler Yates 3.0 9.00 0.75 -0.014 +0.033 -0.047 -0.039 -0.11 +0.26 -0.37 -0.30
Peter Moylan 4.3 2.08 1.07 -0.097 +0.040 -0.137 -0.140 -0.57 +0.23 -0.80 -0.82
Rafael Soriano 3.0 6.00 0.92 -0.177 -0.160 -0.017 -0.030 -1.48 -1.33 -0.14 -0.25
Buddy Carlyle 9.3 5.79 1.14 -0.178 -0.079 -0.099 -0.088 -0.41 -0.18 -0.23 -0.20
Lance Cormier 4.0 9.00 1.00 -0.276 -0.236 -0.040 -0.041 -1.31 -1.13 -0.19 -0.19
Totals 51.0 4.41 1.15 -0.083 +0.210 -0.293 -0.431 -0.04 +0.10 -0.14 -0.20
Relief Pitching G IP TBF gmLI G/T tG/T USG
Oscar Villarreal 2 2.7 8 2.11 1.58 2.25 0.67
Bob Wickman 1 1.0 4 1.98 1.49 2.21 0.72
Rafael Soriano 3 3.0 12 1.22 0.91 1.26 0.34
Octavio Dotel 1 1.0 3 0.77 0.58 1.06 0.48
Ron Mahay 4 3.3 13 1.96 1.47 1.02 -0.45
Tyler Yates 3 3.0 13 0.51 0.39 0.94 0.55
Manuel Acosta 1 1.0 3 0.27 0.20 0.80 0.60
Peter Moylan 5 4.3 17 1.27 0.96 0.00 -0.96
Totals 20 19.3 73 1.33 12

Season totals:

Hitting PA OPS pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Chipper Jones 423 1.024 1.02 +2.389 +2.981 -0.592 -0.645 +0.56 +0.70 -0.14 -0.15
Kelly Johnson 456 0.892 0.95 +1.578 +2.334 -0.756 -0.650 +0.35 +0.51 -0.17 -0.14
Yunel Escobar 196 0.744 0.99 +1.559 +0.440 +1.119 +1.124 +0.80 +0.22 +0.57 +0.57
Edgar Renteria 463 0.878 0.96 +1.524 +1.929 -0.405 -0.321 +0.33 +0.42 -0.09 -0.07
Willie Harris 279 0.851 1.01 +0.732 +0.383 +0.349 +0.346 +0.26 +0.14 +0.13 +0.12
Matt Diaz 273 0.874 0.95 +0.649 +1.067 -0.418 -0.362 +0.24 +0.39 -0.15 -0.13
Jeff Francoeur 510 0.817 0.98 +0.452 +0.220 +0.232 +0.237 +0.09 +0.04 +0.05 +0.05
Brian McCann 395 0.766 1.04 +0.408 -0.715 +1.123 +1.148 +0.10 -0.18 +0.28 +0.29
Mark Teixeira 54 0.929 1.00 +0.303 +0.139 +0.164 +0.164 +0.56 +0.26 +0.30 +0.30
Corky Miller 6 0.833 1.50 +0.112 +0.031 +0.081 +0.066 +1.87 +0.51 +1.36 +1.10
Tyler Yates 1 0.000 0.03 -0.001 -0.033 +0.032 +0.000 -0.10 -3.33 +3.23 +0.00
Oscar Villarreal 4 0.500 1.21 -0.029 -0.067 +0.038 +0.052 -0.73 -1.68 +0.96 +1.30
Peter Moylan 5 0.200 0.55 -0.047 -0.051 +0.004 -0.019 -0.94 -1.02 +0.08 -0.38
Lance Cormier 4 0.250 0.63 -0.053 -0.045 -0.008 -0.025 -1.33 -1.13 -0.19 -0.62
Martin Prado 37 0.612 0.91 -0.077 -0.163 +0.086 +0.072 -0.21 -0.44 +0.23 +0.19
Buddy Carlyle 32 0.268 0.85 -0.258 -0.463 +0.205 +0.134 -0.81 -1.45 +0.64 +0.42
Tim Hudson 62 0.476 0.74 -0.387 -0.442 +0.055 -0.059 -0.62 -0.71 +0.09 -0.10
John Smoltz 44 0.253 0.82 -0.528 -0.681 +0.153 +0.028 -1.20 -1.55 +0.35 +0.06
Chuck James 51 0.324 0.91 -0.694 -0.665 -0.029 -0.086 -1.36 -1.30 -0.06 -0.17
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 153 0.745 1.11 -0.711 -0.273 -0.438 -0.408 -0.46 -0.18 -0.29 -0.27
Chris Woodward 124 0.543 1.06 -0.756 -0.925 +0.169 +0.222 -0.61 -0.75 +0.14 +0.18
Scott Thorman 278 0.659 0.91 -1.007 -0.512 -0.495 -0.542 -0.36 -0.18 -0.18 -0.19
Andruw Jones 498 0.728 1.09 -1.975 -0.814 -1.161 -1.084 -0.40 -0.16 -0.23 -0.22
Totals 4640 0.776 0.99 -0.065 +1.119 -1.184 -1.528 -0.00 +0.02 -0.03 -0.03
Total Pitching IP ERA pLI WPA WPA/LI Clutch CP pWPA pWPA/LI pClutch pCP
Peter Moylan 64.7 1.95 0.75 +2.279 +1.086 +1.193 +1.469 +0.89 +0.42 +0.46 +0.57
Tim Hudson 164.7 3.01 0.93 +2.071 +3.012 -0.941 -0.722 +0.31 +0.45 -0.14 -0.11
John Smoltz 139.7 3.03 1.09 +1.734 +1.516 +0.218 +0.086 +0.29 +0.26 +0.04 +0.01
Rafael Soriano 52.7 3.93 1.21 +1.174 +0.637 +0.537 +0.404 +0.57 +0.31 +0.26 +0.20
Chuck James 132.7 3.93 1.03 +1.140 +0.173 +0.967 +0.961 +0.20 +0.03 +0.17 +0.17
Oscar Villarreal 66.0 3.55 0.80 +0.253 +0.477 -0.224 -0.128 +0.09 +0.17 -0.08 -0.05
Tyler Yates 50.7 5.15 1.09 +0.227 +0.200 +0.027 +0.009 +0.10 +0.09 +0.01 +0.00
Bob Wickman 40.3 3.79 2.00 +0.024 +0.143 -0.119 -0.262 +0.01 +0.08 -0.06 -0.14
Ron Mahay 7.3 1.23 1.78 -0.051 +0.050 -0.101 -0.139 -0.16 +0.16 -0.32 -0.45
Buddy Carlyle 80.0 4.39 0.89 -0.060 +0.620 -0.680 -0.612 -0.02 +0.19 -0.20 -0.18
Chad Paronto 40.3 3.57 0.63 -0.120 -0.364 +0.244 +0.111 -0.07 -0.20 +0.14 +0.06
Lance Cormier 12.7 13.50 0.77 -0.911 -1.420 +0.509 +0.188 -1.32 -2.06 +0.74 +0.27
Kyle Davies 86.0 5.76 0.98 -1.659 -1.037 -0.622 -0.640 -0.43 -0.27 -0.16 -0.16
Totals 1061.3 4.16 0.98 +3.013 +1.865 +1.148 +0.298 +0.07 +0.04 +0.03 +0.01
Relief Pitching G IP TBF gmLI G/T tG/T USG
Peter Moylan 53 64.7 257 0.86 0.81 2.05 1.24
Rafael Soriano 54 52.7 205 1.44 1.35 1.33 -0.02
Chad Paronto 41 40.3 180 0.82 0.77 1.01 0.25
Tyler Yates 57 50.7 225 1.12 1.05 0.77 -0.28
Octavio Dotel 5 4.3 19 0.66 0.62 0.73 0.11
Joey Devine 4 4.0 19 0.14 0.13 0.67 0.54
Ron Mahay 6 7.3 31 1.71 1.60 0.63 -0.96
Bob Wickman 45 40.3 183 1.60 1.50 0.61 -0.89
Oscar Villarreal 43 66.0 278 1.01 0.95 0.50 -0.45
Buddy Carlyle 1 1.0 4 0.58 0.54 0.00 -0.54
Totals 377 393.0 1696 1.07 177

Best plays of the week:

  1. Chipper Jones doubled in two runs off Orlando Hernandez, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead in the 6th inning of Wednesday’s game (+.307).
  2. Chipper Jones hit a 3-run homer off John Maine, giving the Braves a 4-2 lead in the 5th inning of Thursday’s game (+.274).
  3. Chris Woodward drew a walk from Billy Wagner, loading the bases, with the Braves trailing the Mets 4-3 in the 9th inning of Wednesday’s game (+.196).
  4. Martin Prado doubled in Brian McCann off Jamie Moyer in the 7th inning of Sunday night’s game, cutting the Phillies’ lead to 4-3 (+.179).
  5. Kelly Johnson hit a 2-run homer off Adam Eaton, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead in the third inning of Saturday’s game (+.173).

Comments

The offense was merely average this week, and average wasn’t enough to win both series against the Mets and Phillies.  Andruw Jones plummeted over 1.5 wins in WPA, with most of that coming in Wednesday’s game, when his GIDP ended the Braves’ comeback bid against Billy Wagner.  Yunel Escobar didn’t handle the top-flight opponents very well, either, and he dropped 3/4 of a win in WPA.

Francoeur, Harris, and Johnson all found themselves in the land of “average” this week, but several regulars did have solid weeks at the plate.  Chipper’s week was great across the board, adding +.550 to his season WPA total by going 9-for-24 with six extra-base hits.  Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira had merely average weeks, but both performed adequately enough in the clutch to finish with significantly above average weeks.  Matt Diaz had another solid week as a part-timer, hitting two first-inning homers among his three hits for the week.

The starting rotation provided 3 quality starts in 6 tries, with the three predictably going to Smoltz, Hudson, and James.  None of the three were great, though, with the latter two barely qualifying with minutely positive WPAs. Smoltz lasted the longest of any starter this week, going 6 1/3 innings on Wednesday.

As a result of all the short starts this week, the bullpen again faced a heavy 19 1/3 inning workload, with everyone but the totally-depleted Yates and Soriano having solid weeks.  Pete Moylan led the way, pitching in five of the six games, working 4 2/3 innings and allowing a single run.  Villarreal was the week’s WPA leader on the pitching staff, with 2 2/3 perfect innings of work.  Ron Mahay allowed a single hit in 3 2/3 innings of work in 4 games, taking on the second-heaviest workload of the week and getting the Braves out of a few big jams.  The Braves disabled Octavio Dotel after his inning of work, so that deal is working out well so far.

I’m not sure that Oscar Villarreal will ever be able to make a better case for a rotation spot than he can right now.  Cormier broke down once again, and the Braves have seemingly no other options for a replacement starter.  For all the talk about John Schuerholz exploiting the market by trading for a hitter and relievers, it’s painfully clear that neither of those can keep the Braves from allowing piles of runs in the early innings.  Having Teixeira in the lineup and a few more arms to overuse in the bullpen ultimately won’t address the starting pitching problem (which caused the bullpen problem in the first place).  Villarreal appears to be the best option for improving from within, with the upper minor league system almost totally depleted of reasonable solutions.

It’s hard to be bullish about the Braves’ chances with the current state of the pitching staff, but there’s no doubt that the offense should be fantastic the rest of the year.  Smoltz, Hudson, and James will have to keep providing quality work, and most importantly (especially for James), they will have to last deep into games and relieve the load on the bullpen.  James appears to be on a fairly strict pitch count, as he’s only thrown over 100 pitches, and a max of 106, in 6 of his 24 starts.  So, it may be up to Smoltz and Hudson, which is probably what everyone expected anyway.

The Road Ahead

The NL West visits Atlanta this week, with the Giants on board for three starting tomorrow and the D-Backs for three over the weekend.  The D-Backs’ opposition has outscored them by 21 runs so far this year, and not only do they have a winning record, but also they’re in first place by 3 games, 15 games over .500.  This, of course, is rubbish, and it will not last.  Cool Standings still gives them a slight edge in the NL West over the Padres and their once-impressive-but-now-just-so-so run differential, and that may be reasonable, given that 3-game difference in the standings.  The Giants are in 5th place in the division and just a game ahead of Pittsburgh for the worst in the league.

Here are this week’s probable starters:

Tuesday: Smoltz vs. Scott Atchison or Brian Wilson
Wednesday: Hudson vs. Russ Ortiz
Thursday: James vs. Tim Lincecum
Friday: Carlyle vs. Brandon Webb, who is working a 33-inning scoreless streak
Saturday: Cormier(?) vs. Micah Owings
Sunday: Smoltz vs. Byung-Hyun Kim

It’s also probably time to start watching who the Mets and Phillies have on deck as well: both will travel to Pittsburgh and Washington this week for 3 games each, with the Mets facing the Pirates first, while the Phillies get the Nats.

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One thought on “Braves finish up-and-down week against division rivals

  1. I know it would have been great to win both series, but the truth is, this is a .500 team (minus a few hot streaks). We’ve been playing like a .500 team for the majority of the season. A 3-3 road trip is about right for a .500 team.

    If I’m to get more optimistic about playoff chances, they are going to have to start playing better than .500 and start doing that RIGHT NOW. We’ve got the giants, the reds, the cardinals, and the marlins all coming up in the next few weeks. We need to stack up some Wins against those weak teams because the wins will be harder to come-by in September.

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