Last night, Jo-Jo was superb, and it may be only slightly hyperbolic to say that he saved his chances of remaining in the Braves' long-term plans. Tonight, Javy Vazquez -- who currently has an obscene 12.8 K/9, third in baseball behind Rich Harden and Tim Lincecum -- will go against Adam Wainwright, a very good pitcher in a very weird rotation. Joel Pineiro, Kyle Lohse, and Todd Wellemeyer, and a 5th spot that's seen starts by Chris Carpenter (who's back on the DL), Mitchell Boggs, and P.J. Walters. Joel Pineiro leads the staff in wins, and even though he beat us the other day, the phrase "Joel Pineiro leads the staff in wins" (or the phrase "Kyle Lohse leads the staff in ERA") ought to tell you what you need to know about this gum-and-baling wire pitching staff.
Wainwright's legit, though. He missed a couple months last year with "ruptured pulley in his right middle finger" -- I think I had one of those the last time I saw Dan Kolb pitching for the Braves -- but when he was on the mound he was superb, going 11-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 132 innings. He'll be 28 in August, so he's in his prime. I don't begrudge him to the Cards, since J.D. Drew played his heart out for us and took us to the playoffs, but he's a damn good pitcher, and he's from Georgia, and it's too bad he isn't playing for us.
He's got 4 pitches, fastball-slider-curve-change. He throws his heat about half the time, and uses the slider and curve about the same, about 20% each -- he uses the change a bit less than 10% of the time. Fastball sits in the low 90s, slider around 85, change in the low 80s, and curve in the mid-70s -- a beautiful variety of speeds. He doesn't strike out as many people as you'd think, just 6.7 K/9 for his career, but he also doesn't walk too many (2.9 BB/9) or give up many homers (0.7 BB/9), so his DIPS are just fine. This year his K/9 and BB/9 have both jumped by 2, which isn't good, but it's hard to argue with the results and it's probably just an early-season glitch. Chipper's batting .364/.470/.574 against him, of course.
Hope you enjoyed my Yahoo post from yesterday -- more to come, I hope!