Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Power Outage in the ATL

Braves struggling to find a consistent offensive stride.

Well as nice as it is to see a tick in the win column for the first time in over a week for the Atlanta Braves, it is still a major concern. The Braves managed to eak out a 2-1 win over the St Louis Cardinals in game 2 of a three game set. This win is coming on the heals of a 7 game losing streak and in so being sweapt by both the Marlins and the Giants and dropping game 1 vs the Cards. They managed only 13 runs in those 7 games and managed to only push one run across in each Giants game and was shut out in game 1 vs the Marlins.

After such a hot start by the Braves to begin the season they are in the midst of just a huge slide and had even lost top spot to Washington for a bit. Going into the season there was a huge concern that the Braves starting rotation was going to be a big issue. After Kris Medlan and Brandon Beachy went down to their second Tommy John surgery there was real worry that they would be in trouble. Then GM frank Wren did some fancy footwork and snuck into the Ervin Santana negotiations and stole him from the Blue Jays and Orioles and then made the surprising move in cutting Fredy Garcia and picking up Aaron Herang. So far both have shown to be solid moves thus far.

For whatever reason they have had a beginning to the season with near historic numbers put up by the starters, and that has kept things together.

It was thought that the offence would need to be the ones to keep things on the rails and carry the team. Of late that is far from the case and the only reason any of the games have been close of late is the pitching. Even last night in the win they only managed 2 runs scored. Granted they have run into some real good pitchers from the other teams they are still in just a huge drought. For starters they are averaging 9 strikeouts a game. To put that into perspective that is 3 full innings of NO CONTACT. Hard to score a run when you can't execute a bunt or make contact and get a sacrifice fly. They are hitting near .225 with runners in scoring position right now and even though currently in a slump it is only Freddie Freeman who has even respectable numbers in this category.

It was nice to see BJ Upton come out a few games ago with glasses on. If that was an issue maybe it will help him turn his dreadful time in Atlanta around. After last seasons Lasik procedure Dan Uggla is still struggling and needs to snap out of it soon or his starting job may fall on the shoulders to Ramero Pena.

There may be something a little more drastic that needs to be done and that would be more then just Freddie Gonzalez putting the pitcher into the 8 spot to try to get more runners in front of Freddie Freeman. Maybe they need to explore blowing it all up and rebuild the lineup.
The first thing I would like to see done is Jason Heyward moved from the lead off position. That worked last year, so far, this season, not so much. I would like to see something more like this and see how that works:

Simmons, Chris Johnson, Freeman, J Upton, Heyward ,Gattis, Bj Upton, Uggla/Pena, *Pitcher

Simmons does not strike out a lot and has decent speed, Chris Johnson can handle a bat and uses all fields, Freeman is your RBI Guy, J- Upton your power clean up hitter. Dropping Heyward down may take some pressure off and he can get more pitches to drive and get some of his power back. Gattis behind Heyward to protect him and then BJ Upton and Uggla/Pena to finish out the lineup. When Pena is in the game I have no problem with him batting 9th and putting the pitcher in the 8 hole. It just seems that something major needs to be done to get the players attention and maybe find a spark and change the fortunes of this team that is struggling so mightily.

It would be nice not to waste all the good pitching that they have been afforded thus far.There will be a point where they too will struggle and not a lot of games can be won where they can only muster a handful of runs and the pitching staff is giving up 3 or more. That should not be too much to ask for. There is just too much offensive talent on this team to not be able to score any runs.

Maybe if they can put up a crooked number early and not wait until the 7th inning or later to score some runs it will not only help out the team during the game but also the mind set. Get some runs early and it will take that some pressure off and that could make a world of difference. A couple of runs early may help the pitchers too not have to throw so many high pressure innings and put extra strain on their arms.

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