Insulated by our New York cocoon, we may not know what exactly is going on with the Braves — outside of what we can glean from the stat lines and the ESPN highlights. So, we’ve called on Mac Thomasonfrom BravesJournal.com to give us a quick update on the Atlanta Nine.
1. Vazquez vs. Maine & Kawakami vs. Hernandez : how are you liking / not liking these matchups?
I like the first one a whole lot. Vazquez has looked good in all his starts (he lost his last one, but that was due to a fluke inning) and is among the league leaders in strikeouts, while Maine has struggled this year. Of course, he’ll be facing the Braves offense, which is a heck of an equalizer right now. The second, by all rights, should be a game where each team uses about six pitchers, but given the Braves’ offensive strugges I can’t too optimistic. Although Braves fans still remember 1997, in the regular season Livan is 3-15 against Atlanta with a 5.52 ERA, so thanks to Jerry Manuel for pushing Santana back.
2. Jordan Schafer: the real deal?
I think so. He’s an odd player, a guy who walks a lot and strikes out a lot, but who has only midrange power. I don’t care about the strikeouts the way some do, but it’s hard to maintain a good batting average when you strike out nearly a third of the time.
3. As a Braves fan, do you care much / worry about the Mets? What team in the NL East concerns you most / do you see as the favorite and why?
To be honest, I think the Phillies are the team to beat. They’re the champs, they’ve won the division the last two years, and they’re right in the race (ahead of both the Braves and the Mets) despite not really playing their best ball yet.
4. Braves’ biggest issue thus far is … ?
Lack of power on offense. The Braves are sixth in the NL in OBP, but eleventh in runs scored, largely because they’re tenth in slugging and thirteenth in home runs. Nobody on the team has more than three homers, and the leading slugger among the regulars is Chipper at .456. (Actually, Dave Ross, who is filling in for McCann, is slugging .543. He usually hits eighth.) The most-usual cleanup hitter with McCann out is Casey Kotchman, who hasn’t hit a home run this year.
5. One thing about the Braves this year that a Mets fan might not know ?
The Braves, despite their offensive struggles, have probably the second-best strikeout/walk ratio in the league. They’re third in walks, third from last in strikeouts. The Mets, however, are second and second from last…
Thanks to Mac, who keeps regular tabs on the Braves at BravesJournal.com. Be sure to check it out.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.