June 23rd: Chien-Ming Wang (0-5, 12.30) vs Tommy Hanson (2-0, 4.09)
So here we are...the 2nd quarter of the deathmarch continues, with DUH YANKEEEEEEEEEEEES coming to town. The Nats & Marlins each took 2 of 3 from them last week...can we continue the trend? We shall see....
Wang has been really bad last year, but I'm sure you all knew that. Lets put things in perspective about Wang...
- He hasn't thrown more than 5 innings in any appearance this season
- His WHIP is 2.43
- His BAA is .410
- He's got a career high K rate! And a career high walk rate
- His strand rate is under 50%
- 24% of the flyballs he allows go out of the park
And so on and so forth. In summary, this is a game where if the offense can't throw up a 5 spot (at least), we are doomed.
Tommy Hanson is still yet to taste defeat in his major league career, beating the Reds last Thursday in a game where the offense actually showed up. Hanson is still allowing way too many flyballs however (under 0.5 GB:FB on the season), and his strikeouts got dialed down against a bad Reds offense, which is a little confusing. Thankfully, he'll be in a bigger park than Cincinnati this time, though that didn't work too well for him in his only other start at Turner Field (first start vs Brewers, 3 HR in 6 innings). We need to be patient with Tommy and not expect too much right away. Another quality start would be a good answer to his 6 shutout innings vs the Reds last time out.
June 24th - Joba Chamberlain (3-2, 3.89) vs Kenshin Kawakami (4-6, 4.42)
Ah yes, JOBA. If you listen to any Yankee fan, this dude is a sure fire Hall of Famer, the next Roger Clemens. Or something along those lines. Honestly, I look at Joba this season...and I get worried. He's a full time starter now, and the results have been...varied. In his each of his 3 seasons, his walk rate has increased, K rate has decreased, homer rate & BAA have increased...its a little worrisome. Hitters are taking less swings against him, and making more contact. You don't want to see guys become more selective, because that means you're throwing stuff that they shouldn't be swinging at early in the count. Just a little something to think about...maybe Joba isn't as good as the New York media would have you believe.
On to a happier note. KENSHIN KAWAKAMI. God bless this man. He won the battle of Japan on Friday vs the all over the place Daisuke Matsuzaka...not that Kenshin really needed much help. He was fantastic. 2 earned on 2 hits and 3 walks in 6. Aside from a Jason Bay dinger, he completely shut Boston down. This is what the Braves paid their $23 million for. Kenshin's ERA keeps slowly sliding down the scale, and he could concievably be a shade above 4 at the end of the month, after a pair of good starts (here against the Yankees, and next week vs Philly).
June 25th - Andy Pettite (7-3, 4.26) vs Derek Lowe (7-5, 4.09)
Andy Pettite is getting a lot of pub for "still having something left in the tank", but honestly, I think he's running on fumes. Pettite's low ERA is due to a career high strand rate (75.3%). He's allowing a career high in homers, and has his highest walk rate in nearly a decade. He's also keeping the ball on the ground a lot, but not as much as he usually does. This is the kind of guy the Braves can rock around the park if they just wait for their pitch and don't jump on the first thing that looks appetizing. Its like getting to a club at 9 PM, seeing the big boned chick with a nice face, and cozying up next to her and working your game. You know something better is coming that will end up better than this, but dammit, you need satisfaction now!
Derek Lowe...ah yes. I wasn't totally sure what I was getting myself into with him, and now I know: not a whole lot of strikeouts, more walks than I envisioned, and no homers. He's not keeping the ball on the ground as much as he has in the past, and the dropoff since 2006 is very worrisome. Hitters are making a lot more contact against him this year, which is what I'll attribute some of his recent struggles to. He's hardly throwing his change at all either...come on Derek, work with us here.
"Potent" is probably an understatement when it comes to this Yankees offense. They lead the majors in runs, and 8 of their 9 regulars has an OPS over .800 (the 9th is at .775). Thats like, really good. Mark Teixeira (the one and only ROBODOUCHE, TM Lizziebeth on TC) is playing with more passion than he ever did in Atlanta, and is absolutey taking souls with his bat...he's probably top 3 for the AL MVP right now, right? 10 Yankees have hit double digit homers, and 3 more have 9. Nick Swisher has become one of the favored sons of New York, and is 3rd in the league in walks. And just think New York, all it cost you were a couple 4A players and a spare part or two! Positive note: Alex Rodriguez has a really low batting average. If I cared about batting average, we might be on to something.
The Braves had a typical Braves series up in Boston. Shell a pitcher and put a crooked number on the board, then get shut out, then have a great BATTLE BACK FIGHTING SPIRIT game only to let the human gas can Jeff Bennett blow it. To a former Brave no less! However, Nate McLouth came into his own up in Boston and is being a nice catalyst at the top of the order (finally). The second baseman has walked twice tonight up in the 2 hole, so he might actually be coming along and digging himself out of the hole of suck. But the key to this series for the Braves is in the bottom of the order...the 5-9 hitters absolutely positively need to produce. Anderson had a great series in Boston, he needs to carry the hotness down to Atlanta with him. The 2B, RF, and Kotchman need to start hitting and driving in the guys at the top of the order, who have no problems getting on base. The Yankees pitching is bad enough for the Braves to really have an offensive explosion this series, and with the Yankees offense on the 3rd base side of Turner Field this week, the offense needs to kick it into another gear.