A critical win before what will likely be a season-deciding series against the Phillies this weekend. I'm going to say that if the Braves don't sweep the Phils, their playoff hopes will be firmly on life support. With a sweep, you're at worst four games out of the division lead and four out of the wild card. With no sweep, you're at best six games out of the division and four games out of the WC; that's a huge difference. The Braves had better bring their game to Citizens Bank Park this weekend!
MVP: Javier Vazquez, .333 WPA. Start with seven innings of shutout baseball, add in a dash of control (no walks), a pinch of efficiency (just 88 pitches on the night), and a healthy dollop of offensive contribution (his two-RBI single in the second put the Braves on the board). What you get is a game MVP. I think you could make a case that Vazquez was the single most important acquisition by any team this winter.
LVP: Adam LaRoche, -.042 WPA. The guy singled, walked and even homered?! What gives?! Well, that's the kind of game this was for the Braves. He struck out with two men on and nobody out in the second; by the time he came to bat next, it was already 5-0.
MIP: Vazquez's one-out, two-RBI single in the second to put the Braves up 2-0. In a big win, first runs count most.
UotG: Credit the offense, .327 WPA. Nine runs is pretty good...where has this been all series?!
CATC: After Everth Cabrera's single to lead off the game, 46.5% WE. The Padres got a man on base to start things off, and it was all Braves after that. Hopefully this kind of domination is exactly what we needed to build some confidence going into the huge series with the Phillies.
In other news from around Braves Nation, as you've probably heard, Tim Hudson is scheduled to make his season debut Monday against the Marlins. This is a critical move actually, as his activation prior to the August 31 waiver deadline makes him eligible for any potential postseason roster. His activation has some interesting consequences as well, in that someone must be bumped from the rotation and from the 40-man roster. Kenshin Kawakami's start will be skipped Monday, but I think it's hasty to say that he'll just be relegated to the bullpen. Jair Jurrjens flagged at the end of last season, Tommy Hanson is a rookie whose innings totals need to be watched, and Kawakami threw more than 180 innings just twice in his Japanese career. It remains to be seen whether the indomitable Bobby Cox is flexible enough to let any/all of those guys skip some starts in the interest of freshness and injury prevention, but it could certainly be a huge boon come playoff time or next season. What do you guys think about the arrangement of starters for the rest of the year? Who should be bumped from the 40-man roster to make room for Huddy's return from the 60-day DL.
Lots of virtual ink has been spilled discussing Jason Heyward potentially being shut down with a foot injury, but it sounds like a purely precautionary move and that he'll still likely be ready to appear in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League. Color me unconcerned.