After watching Kameron Loe pitch for the Atlanta Braves Wednesday in the finale against the Mets, I completely understand why the guy hasn’t started above Triple-A in six years.
Fredi Gonzalez gave rookie starter Julio Teheran rest to prevent a tired arm heading into the playoffs. Teheran figures to be a key cog in the Braves postseason run. Atlanta went with the 31-year-old Loe to replace Teheran. God knows why. . .
If I never see Loe pitch again for Atlanta, I will die a happy man. It was tough to watch.
Even with the loss on Wednesday, the Braves finished the home stand 7-2. They swept the Indians and took two of three from both Miami and the New York Mets. Wednesday’s loss was ugly, but you can’t complain with 7-2.
Can the Majors’ best home team lock down home field advantage?
The Braves sit at 84-54 with 23 games remaining. They lead the Dodgers by two games for the top NL playoff seed. The Dodgers continue to win at an insane rate. It’s imperative the Braves keep pace.
The Braves hold a 51-20 home record, 4.5 games better than the next best home record, held by Boston. Yet they are a mediocre 34-34 on the road.
With the Braves magic number already down to ten, and with Gonzalez resting starters, can the Braves finish strong enough to hold onto the best record? I think so. Of their 23 remaining games only three come against a team with a winning record, the Nationals, whom the Braves have owned. With the large number of injuries the Braves have accumulated over the course of this season, they have shown they can win with makeshift lineups.
Again, the importance of the Braves locking down home field through the NLCS is vital. Playing a majority of their playoffs games at home, I can see them making a World Series run. I’d feel much more comfortable with Atlanta facing Clayton Kershaw at the Ted rather than in L.A. in game one of the NLCS, if they get that far.
Freddie Freeman’s a nasty, nasty man, but is he MVP nasty?
Outside Atlanta, Freeman is little known, aside from his rousing victory over Yasiel Puig in fan vote for the final NL roster spot in the 2013 All-Star Game.
Freeman isn’t flashy but he’s consistent and efficient with runners on base, boasting a .439 average (50-for-114) with runners in scoring position with 14 extra-base hits, 26 walks, 23 strikeouts, a .535 OBP and .658 slugging percentage.
That’s downright nasty folks. Nasty.
For the season, Freeman’s hitting .307 (11th in the NL) with 44 extra-base hits, a .385 OBP (eighth in the NL) and an .868 OPS (ninth in the NL), and he’s fourth in the league with 93 RBIs in 466 at-bats. All others among the NL’s top-five RBI leaders have more than 500 at-bats (Freeman had a DL stint for an oblique strain in April).
Pitching has been the primary reason Atlanta has the best record in baseball, but Freeman has played a huge role. With B.J. Upton struggling, Dan Uggla swinging and missing at everything (and I mean everything), Heyward slumping most of the year then breaking his jaw, and Justin Upton hitting in spurts, Freeman has carried this Braves lineup. In 65 home games, he’s hit .325 with 30 extra-base hits (14 homers) and 63 RBIs, with a .403 OBP and .572 slugging percentage. (In 58 road games, Freeman has hit .287 with 14 extra-base hits (four homers), 30 RBIs, a .365 OBP and .386 slugging percentage.) Again, nasty.
Freeman may not be the top choice for NL MVP but he will end up in the top five. People outside of the south are starting to take notice.
Is Andrelton Simmons the new Ozzie Smith?
Bobby Cox said Simmons is the best defensive player he’s ever seen. Bobby has seen a lot of great players over the years and coached a few of them.
So far in 2013, Simmons has a defensive WAR of 5.0 according to baseball-refernce.com. Let me put that in perspective for you; that’s the third best defensive WAR since 1900. 1900 folks. The only two seasons that outrank him are Terry Turner’s 1906 season that saw him post a 5.4 dWAR. In 1917 Art Fletcher posted a dWAR of 5.1.
Simmons has been credited with over 40 defensive runs saved in 2013. That’s more than most players have in their careers. And he’s only 23.
Not only is the shortstop having the best defensive season of modern day baseball, it can be argued Simmons is having the best season of all-time.
Braves Country, enjoy watching this young man play. You may never see anything quite like this again.
Braves makin’ moves
On Thursday Atlanta called up 25-year-old right-hander David Hale from Triple-A Gwinnett. Added to the 40-man roster last winter, Hale impressed Braves officials during spring training before being sent to Triple-A with a couple of weeks left in camp.
In Gwinnett this year, Hale had 77 strikeouts with 36 walks in 114-2/3 innings, after posting 124 strikeouts with 67 walks in 145-2/3 innings at Double-A Mississippi in 2012. He had one or no walks in five of his last seven starts for Gwinnett.
“He’s got some good stuff,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Hale’s last Grapefruit League outing. “Getting out of that jam… He’s got pitchability. He’s got some quality pitches. He elevated the fastball, he can sink it. He’s been impressive.”