Braves Check: June 30, 2009

The daily charts are probably going to be slow, if I get to them at all, until next week.  I’ve just been too busy to commit the time to the blog, with family in town last weekend and more coming this weekend.  You’ll also have to pardon my tardiness this week, but at least I’m posting it before the Braves have played a game this week, I guess.  This will be a shorter-than-usual Check.

Fourth place, five games out…that’s where the Braves stand on the last day of June.  Several players have been ailing, some for better reasons (McLouth) than others (Bennett), but the next few weeks before the All-Star Break could be dangerous for a team that hasn’t been remarkably good at any point in 2009.

Last Week’s Stats

The Braves survived the Yankees and Red Sox, but that’s about all you can say.  They lost both series and fell to 35-40 for the season.

Starting with the positives, Tommy Hanson just looks better and better with each start.  The young starter allowed just two hits while battling the flu (and MLB’s best lineup) in his most recent start on Sunday.  He now has a 4-0 record and a 2.48 ERA for the season, and I wouldn’t cite his won-loss record, except that I’m curious to see how long he can go without losing a game.

Javier Vazquez put together two great starts of his own, and Jurrjens wasn’t bad in his one start.  Kawakami looked great until he got hurt, so that leaves Derek Lowe’s mysteriously awful play as the only outlier in the rotation.

Garret Anderson started to show a little power this week, which was encouraging, especially considering the opposition.  He had four doubles and a homer among his nine hits.  Jeff Francoeur looked average for once, and Brian McCann was his usual self, but that was about it for average-or-better-performances out of the regular lineup.

Chipper Jones continued slumping, though fortunately for him, a .736 OPS week is considered a slump.  Every other regular fell below .700, with Kelly Johnson sporting a sick .214 (0-for-11 with 3 walks).

Soriano and Moylan were almost perfect out of the pen, while Gonzalez and O’Flaherty have to settle for “pretty good.”  Acosta, Bennett, Medlen, and Logan were not good at all.

The Road Ahead

This week’s schedule involves three with Philly at home, and three in Washington.  The Braves could make a nice dent in their division deficit with a series win or sweep of the Phillies, and it would really help if they would beat up on the Nats for once.

Probable starters:

Tue vsPHI: Kawakami vs. Joe Blanton
Wed vsPHI: Lowe vs. Cole Hamels
Thu vsPHI: Jurrjens vs. Carlos Carrasco
Fri @WAS: Vazquez vs. John Lannan
Sat @WAS: Hanson vs. Scott Olsen
Sun @WAS: Kawakami vs. Jordan Zimmermann

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