“What?” you say. The Braves are third in the NL, sixth in the majors, with an ERA of 3.72. On top of this, the Braves have pitching coach Leo Mazzone to smooth over any problems. And let’s not forget that John Thomson will be coming back, and Hudson and Hampton are already back (although, Hampton may be back on the DL soon). The Braves have had decent pitching coupled with good luck to put them where they are. Just look at the Braves peripheral stats by starters and relievers.
Starting pitching has been the strength of this team, but it reality it’s been decidedly average. Here are the individual stats for the Braves starters. This excludes Seth Greisinger (who’s now in the Far East), and the stats for Sosa and Colon are as starters.
Pitcher HR/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB ERA FIP John Thomson 0.36 2.52 5.76 2.29 3.42 3.28 John Smoltz 0.62 2.28 6.77 2.97 2.64 3.34 Mike Hampton 0.74 2.36 3.54 1.50 2.51 4.27 Tim Hudson 0.74 3.87 5.16 1.33 3.59 4.41 Kyle Davies 0.62 4.94 5.86 1.19 4.32 4.43 Roman Colon 1.54 1.54 5.79 3.75 3.09 4.66 Jorge Sosa 1.26 3.98 6.70 1.68 2.51 4.85 H. Ramirez 1.45 2.90 2.83 0.98 4.57 5.64 Total 0.88 3.04 5.16 1.70 3.41 4.34 NL Average 1.00 3.20 6.40 2.00 4.33 4.33
While the Braves post some nice ERAs, their FIP ERAs are worse, with the exception of Thomson. Getting Thomson back will be huge, but the gain of Hampton and Hudson aren’t much of an improvement over the guys who have been filling in for them. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather have Hudson and Hampton over Sosa, Davies, or Colon in the rotation; but, I’m not sure how much things will improve. Horacio Ramirez has been awful and awfully lucky. I would feel comfortable with any of the replacement starters over him, especially if the Braves can find someone to trade him to for a decent bat. The Braves are very deep with starters, especially now that Colon has shown he can throw a lot of innings. While HoRam may be a serviceable 5th starter, I suspect some teams think he has more of an upside. Trade him while you can, JS. You’ve got plenty of replacements who certainly are no worse.
The relief corps has almost completely turned over since the start of the year. The bullpen has been a problem, but the Braves have simply changed the brand of bubble gum they’re using to patch holes in the hull. Here’s a look a the relievers who are currently on the team, and their 2005 relief stats.
Pitcher HR/9 BB/9 K/9 BB/K ERA FIP Macay McBride 0.00 0.00 6.75 1.00 0.00 1.38 Chris Reitsma 0.20 1.76 5.83 3.33 3.32 2.77 John Foster 0.94 4.24 8.84 2.11 3.30 3.99 Blaine Boyer 0.60 5.40 7.20 1.33 2.40 4.27 Jorge Sosa 0.38 7.13 6.00 0.84 2.63 4.78 Dan Kolb 0.71 5.65 5.82 1.04 5.42 4.80 Jim Brower 1.38 3.46 6.92 2.00 2.77 4.82 Jay Powell 0.00 17.14 3.86 0.25 0.00 7.96 Adam Bernero 0.96 2.30 7.09 3.08 6.51 3.77 Roman Colon 2.57 4.29 6.43 1.50 7.71 6.91 All 0.57 4.48 6.47 1.44 3.52 4.08 Roster 0.83 4.01 6.59 1.64 4.53 4.28 NL average 1.00 3.20 6.40 2.00 4.33 4.33
I include Bernero and Colon because there is a decent chance these guys will appear in Atlanta again this year, especially if an injury occurs. The Braves are not keen on bringing up starters to the pen. The All and Roster rows are the bullpen stats with and without these two. Again, the Braves are decidedly average in FIP, although I have to praise the Braves for keeping the ball in the park. Both the pen and the main starters are doing well in this area. It’s not a park factor phenomenon either. Turner Field has been a slight hitters park for home runs this year.
It would be nice to see the Braves add an arm to the pen for the stretch run. The NL East is still tight, and I’d like to see a strong team make it to the playoffs.
Addendum: In case any of you haven’t read the comments yet, you should. Kyle Sturgeon and John Wright have posted some interesting studies on general pitching (Kyle) and Braves relievers (John). Kyle has found an interesting way to predict future success for pitchers, and John has some interesting graphs on Braves relievers using WPA. Good work guys.