Braves 6, Mets 2 (recapped by Adam M.)

This September ends on a high note.

The Braves took care of business this afternoon, beating the Mets and wild rookie Jenrry Mejia 6-2. In the process, they made Chipper Jones’s last regular season home game an emotional victory and Kris Medlen the first pitcher in major league history to start 23 wins in a row for the same team. Not a bad day’s work, all told.

David Ross opened up the scoring in the bottom of the 2nd with a three-run home run, and the Braves for the most part never really looked back. They added a run in the 4th on a Heyward double, and two more in the 6th after an Uggla HBP, a Simmons triple, and a Bourn single. The six runs marked a nice change of pace from previous low-scoring efforts.

Not that they needed those runs, of course. Kris Medlen was on the mound. The only run the Mets scored off the 26-year old would be an unearned run in the 3rd, after a Freeman error. Otherwise Medlen was his normal, efficient self: 79 pitches, 6 innings, and a 4-1 K/BB ratio. The Mets added a meaningless run in the 9th off of Cory Gearrin—who absolutely should never face lefties, even in meaningless situations—but for some reason Fredi felt compelled to bring in Kimbrel to finish it off. Maybe he’s hoping the extra save will help Kimbrel’s Cy Young chances, though my guess is the man just hasn’t fully grasped the concept of leverage yet.

With today’s victory, Medlen now sits alone atop a list whose other names include, among others, Whitey Ford and Carl Hubbell. And that’s pretty damn cool. Chipper meanwhile finishes his last regular season home game a winner—in this, his 19th season overall. And that’s pretty damn cool too. Good for Medlen, good for Chipper, and good for the Braves for putting last September behind them.

219 thoughts on “Braves 6, Mets 2 (recapped by Adam M.)”

  1. #1
    Only gotta win 12, as long as it’s “the right 12.”

    Not that it’s a huge deal, but I like that Wednesday’s final regular-season game in Pittsburgh begins at 12:35 in the afternoon.

  2. 7: Based on today, it would be Lance Lynn. But they could also throw Wainwright on 1 extra day of rest, or Jaime Garcia (shudder) on short rest.

  3. Oh, and not for nothing, but if certain unlikely events occurred and the Braves went to a one-game playoff in Washington on Thursday, the scheduled matchup would be Minor vs. Edwin Jackson. I can’t think the Nats would be too excited about that.

  4. They may have no choice but to throw out Wainwright this Wednesday, as they still haven’t clinched yet. A 4-0 finish by LA (and they’re up 5-1 right now on the Rockies) and a 1-2 finish by STL would necessitate a 1 game playoff before the 1 game Wild Card playoff.

    I bet the Reds would like nothing better than to end St. Louis’s season on Wednesday.

  5. Yeah it would be great if LA could at least stay in it until the last day of the season, so that the Cardinals aren’t afforded the luxury of re-arranging their rotation how they want. An LA-St Louis 1-game playoff would be even better.

  6. The Braves have the third-best record in baseball, behind only the Nats and Reds.

    But the Division Champion Tigers deserve to be in the playoffs so much more.

    /Sam

  7. Thanks for the recap, Adam M. It would be nice to catch the Nats; but as long as the Braves win the last game they play in 2012, I’ll be happy.

  8. I’d say so, yeah. I don’t think that you have to elect him on the first ballot — and I care a lot more about getting TIm Raines in there — but unless they uncover a syringe with his signature on it, I don’t see that you can keep him out.

  9. Yep. Seventh most HR (and BB) in history, top 25 in RBI, slugging, and run created, top 50 in runs, career OPS+ and WPA. The only one of the top 10 comparables eligible for the HoF and not in is Fred McGriff, who is considerably inferior (and still deserving). First-ballot selection.

  10. So going into the last series of the season, not a single American League Team has clinched a playoff spot. I don’t mean a division title–I really mean a playoff spot.

  11. You could have the Yanks going on the road for a WC game, or they could end up the #1 AL seed. Really, the only thing that seems to be certain in the AL is that the Tigers will be the #3 seed.

  12. The Kraken needs to go 1.2 innings without an earned run to have an ERA under 1. Maybe that’s what Fredi was shooting for?

  13. @21

    And the Yanks could even miss the playoffs if the Sox get frisky and both the A’s and Rangers stay hot.

  14. I kind of think Mac is smiling right now. many have said it before me, but brilliant recap, this one and all that have come before. Thanks guys.

  15. #23
    You mean, the Angels?

    If the Angels come back from an 8-4 deficit tonight & win, they’d have to win their last 3 in Seattle, while the Yanks (or Orioles, actually) would have to lose their last 3, just to tie them.

    Meanwhile, the A’s & Rangers play each other.

  16. I hope Mejia never figures it out, or I’ll regret trading him from my NL-only squad when he was missing all of last season with TJ surgery.

  17. 19- And when the Rangers won tonight, they put three teams (themselves, the Orioles, and the Yankees) into the playoffs at once.

  18. Ah well. I would have loved it if the Rays could have kept the Yankees out. As it is, I’m really happy for the Orioles and presumably the A’s, and the Nats are an awesome story too. 2012 has a lot of great baseball stories, despite the Pirates’ fade. I really hope McCutchen wins the MVP, though. That dude is everything anyone could ever want in a ballplayer.

  19. The number of great young players making their mark this year is amazing. How about an NL All-Star outfield one day of Heyward, Harper, and McCutchen?

  20. The Braves are playing their best baseball of the year right now. Or rather best pitching of the year right now. I feel really confident with Medlen for that one game. And our bullpen rocks.

  21. I don’t think there is anything this does or doesn’t do that would shock me. We are very streaky.

    Our pitching is dominating right now. That could carry us a long way in October.

  22. There is no pitcher in the entire baseball world that I would rather have as my starter in a one game playoff then Med Dog. Here’s hoping that Fredi agrees.

  23. If our dominant pitching actually does carry us a long way in October, then that would shock me. I’ve seen the Braves have dominant pitching before. Then again, the steroid era is over, so maybe having dominant pitching will actually work this time.

  24. @34

    True. But if not for some flukey things (Wholers throwing that slug in ’96 or Lonnie Smith having a brain fart in ’91), we have at least three titles with strong pitching.

  25. Glavine made a comment during yesterday’s television broadcast, something to the effect that power pitchers have an advantage during the playoffs. Was it that the umpires usually have a smaller strike zone? Does anyone remember exactly?

  26. @35

    A great read. Of course, the number of advanced metrics out there means a writer can bludgeon you by describing the same phenomenon in several different ways. For those disinclined to vote for him because of his innings total, nothing has changed.

    @37

    He has said that before — if it’s true, I wonder if it might have to do with amount of strength remaining after six months of pitching.

  27. @37

    I think power pitcher do have an advantage as a strikeout is less likley to get under the second baseman’s glove or fall for bloop single.

    One “ground ball with eyes” or “Texas Legauer” can be huge in the playoffs. Preventing those from happening helps.

  28. @39

    Which is why the Braves opponents generally are going to have just six innings or so to get the lead. Because Avilan/Venters/Durbin in the 7th, EO’F in the 8th and The Kraken in the 9th are as scary as any post-season bullpen I can remember since maybe the Reds’ 1990 Nasty Boys.

  29. Which is why the Braves opponents generally are going to have just six innings or so to get the lead. Because Avilan/Venters/Durbin in the 7th, EO’F in the 8th and The Kraken in the 9th are as scary as any post-season bullpen I can remember since maybe the Reds’ 1990 Nasty Boys.

    Durbin? CHAD DURBIN?! I was told by smart people that he was worthless back in April…

  30. A friend on the Facebook posted an image of her trip to the ballpark yesterday. In the background was a message on the Jumbotron that said “Next Home Game: Wild Card Playoff Game on Thursday”.

    Now, I know the odds are incredibly slim…but there are still odds that that will not be the next home game. I’d like to maintain my fantasy a little bit longer. It seems odd that they’d post that without any context.

  31. I’d somehow forgotten about Hershiser’s whinging in the 95 Series. God what a weenie that dude was. And how good did it feel to beat that team. Any guesses as to how many of those guys were juicing? I suspect every last one of them.

  32. A little disappointed in the city of Atlanta and their poor planning for fridays crowd. We got off the interstate at 5:10 pm for a 7:35 start. I figured we would be in our seats no later than 6:30. It took us over 2 hours just to find a parking spot and we didnt get in the stadium until 7:20.

  33. I told you guys all along that Durbin was a terrible pickup but Livan Hernandez had a reasonable chance to help us out. That is probably one of the many reasons the Braves will not hire me as a scout.

  34. If you take the current situation as a given (which you sort of have to), there’s not much to be done on a day-by-day basis to ease congestion for a sellout game combined with Friday rush hour traffic. Parking at one of the ends of the MARTA rail line at 4:30 and taking the train to the shuttle (or walking from the Georgia State station, if feasible for you) would have gotten you to your seats at least an hour quicker, if not earlier.

  35. Sam,

    I wasn’t one of those who said Durbin was useless (I think, April was a long time ago and I’m not as young as I used to be), but that’s not because I’m a fount of scouting wisdom, it’s because I didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

    Of course, I’ve always had a covetous urge for other team’s vaguely useful middle relievers, so when we got Durbin, who was at one time another team’s vaguely useful middle reliever, I had some small glimmer of hope….

    Unless of course, I didn’t, and am misremembering whther or not I went along with the herd.

    But, if we’ve got a lead, and the lead-off guy in the 7th is a righty, I wouldn’t mind seeing Fredi use Durbin for that one guy.

  36. Caray has been about the most delusional announcer ever, in regards to the Braves still winning the division.

    Only wish he was an announcer back in 2006, during the end of the streak. Can only imagine him in early September of that year: “and the Braves have won, the Mets have lost, and the Braves are now only 18.5 games back on the Mets. It’s not over yet, the Braves are conceding nothing.”

  37. 52- Keep in mind that his father would have been around to throttle him for saying anything that dumb. Man, Skip should have been the Caray to see this.

    I still don’t trust Durbin, no matter what Sam thinks. I’ve accepted his presence as useful for the regular season, but he shouldn’t be on the WC roster at the expense of Avilan, Venters, or Gearrin.

  38. Playoff Bullpen:

    Kraken
    EO’F
    Venters
    Avilan
    Durbin
    Martinez
    Hanson

    Rotation
    Med Dog
    Hudson
    Minor
    Maholm

    Starters
    Bourn
    Prado
    Heyward
    Chipper
    Freeman
    Uggla
    McCann
    Simmons

    Bench
    Ross
    Constanza
    R. Johnson
    Hinske
    Pastornicky

    Leaving one spot for who?
    Gearrin for the pen? Or Baker/Overbay for the bench?

  39. Vi>Durbin? CHAD DURBIN?! I was told by smart people that he was worthless back in April…

    I may not be smart, but I still think he’s worthless. I also still fear he’s going to be used in a crucial situation. I’d much, much, much rather have Avilan and Venters in the 7th than Durbin. And I’d rather have Gearrin be the ROOGY. And Martinez be the mop-up guy. And so on.

  40. So, if its a choice between hot hitting and hot pitching which is better? The old adage that good pitching beats good hitting comes to mind.

  41. I think Baker and Overbay have been given several chances and haven’t performed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gearrin instead of Hanson and Boscan.

  42. Since there’s a roster reset after the wild card game, I think that there’s a very good chance they carry Boscan on Friday. But if they win the Wild Card game and get to the NLDS, I’m not sure they would put Boscan on the NLDS roster.

  43. I trust Avilan, but I’m still on the fence about Gearrin. Provided he’s used as a ROOGY, I think he’d be a good addition to the playoff roster.

    I have no idea how Hanson will perform out of the ‘pen.

    I know he’s going to be our #2 guy, but I think I trust Minor more than Hudson right now.

    Of note: if Fredi had gone to Avilan with 2 out in the 7th on Friday (Duda coming to bat…), the Braves would (probably) only be two back in the division race. :-o

  44. 54- I’d add Gearrin to the pen, take Durbin out, add Boscan as a third catcher, and send Hinske home. In a short series, it makes much more sense to use roster spots on situational guys like Gearrin than on generally decent players without standout skills.

  45. I’d be inclined to keep Baker over Overbay, as we need more RH pinch hitters on the bench. Baker took some good swings the other day, so there’s hope.

  46. There’s no way the staff leader in appearances is not going to be on the postseason roster, so we might as well not even consider it a possibility. The options for the end of the bench are so crappy I think I’d actually rather see Boscan get the spot and not play.

  47. Hinske seems like a great teammate and all, but I don’t want to see him on the playoff roster. If you must have a LH bench bat (aside from Constanza), carry Juan Francisco. He can play a credible 3B in a pinch and is a decent hitter vs. righties (career .818 OPS).

  48. We definitely want Juan Francisco instead of Hinske. No question. He’s not the pinch-hitter for every situation but he’s definitely the guy most likely to go deep against a righty.

    I’d also bring Gearrin instead of Hanson.

  49. The anti-Chad Durbin stuff is just becoming absurd now. If he won Game 7 of the NLCS with a masterful three-inning, extra-innings performance, you guys would want to leave him off the World Series roster.

  50. Mac’s take on Durbin:

    Chad Durbin

    How he is still in the majors is pretty amazing. Usually right-handed pitchers as bad as he has been in his career are either forced into retirement, or pitching in AAA for the Pirates or Royals.

  51. @67 – I didn’t see that Francisco was left off the list at 54. He will definitely be in. I think Overbay was given a shot to see if he could be a better playoff option than Hinske. Unfortunately for him he hasn’t proven anything except that he’s not too good right now. Hinske has not done much, but I think he’ll make the playoff roster. Only question to me is whether they’ll go with Gearrin, Hanson, Boscan, or Baker for the final 2 spots. I’m pretty sure it will depend on who we’re playing and the length of the series. My guess is Gearrin.

  52. Francisco!

    D’oh! I can’t believe I forgot him! Yes, he should definitely make it, just for the off chance he’d absolutely crush some RH reliever.

    So, Francisco instead of Pastornicky? Or in addition to T-Pas?

  53. Francisco instead of Hinske, in the perfect world. However, I think we’re going to want a first baseman on the bench.

    Francisco/Pastornicky/Johnson/Ross/Boscan if I was making the decision. Johnson can pretty play anywhere, Pastornicky can play up the middle, and Francisco/Ross can be the bats off the bench based on match-up and Boscan be the back-up catcher. We could just leave a pitcher off the roster and also have Constanza.

  54. I think Baker and Overbay have been auditioning for a playoff roster spot and competing against Hinske and Pastornicky. I think they lost.

  55. If Baker and Overbay “lost,” I can’t really imagine what Hinske has done by posting a .248 wOBA in 145 PA and playing clownishly bad defense in left the one time they stuck him there. I’d rather carry Jair Jurrjens as a pinch hitter and backup catcher, irrespective of whether he can actually physically do either of those things, than carry Hinske in any role whatsoever.

  56. Frighteningly, Tim Hudson would make more sense on the roster as a pinch-hitter than Hinske, Overbay, or Baker.

  57. Brian J. at 80,

    That, plus the possibility of extra innings, is why I would want Hudson on the one game roster even if there are so many relievers on the roster.

  58. Seat Painter at 57 and others,

    Many “Yogisms” are actually things his childhood friend Joe Garagiola, Sr. made up about him. Not that some of them aren’t his.

  59. What do we think about the roster for the one-game on Friday? We have another 3 spots then, since Medlen is the only starter we need. It would be actually crazy to go into that game without Francisco, but there are only so many relievers we need. A third catcher makes a ton of sense so Ross can be the first righty off the bench.

  60. I heard that Buck Showalter was talking about carrying two starting pitchers and the rest relievers and position players for a wild card game if the O’s are in that. Not sure if he was serious but it makes sense. So, for the Braves, carry Medlen and Hudson, a bunch of relievers and, I would think, three catchers. Would you carry a third starter in case the game goes 18 innings?

  61. @79 – The bar that Hinske set was extremely low. Unfortunately I don’t think Overbay or Baker have shown anything to get them above the bar. My suspicion is that Fredi will go with Hinske since the other two guys would at best case be only margnally better. (Because he had a track record last year, he wins the tie breaker). If they would have proven to be reasonably better, one would make the playoff roster imo.

  62. 84- Yes. I’d also plug him in if the actual starter (presumably Medlen) is getting touched up early, setting that bar much lower than in the regular season. We’ve got Minor and Maholm available for such duty, and Hudson as a pitcher/ pinch-hitter. (And we’re not overloaded with obviously useful position players.) When it’s one game with a roster reset the next day, why not be crazy prepared?

  63. I’d have two starters behind Medlen – Hudson and one of the lefties, plus Boscan and as many bats as we can cram onto the roster.

    If things go 18, we always have The Lisp – who has experience in 6 inning relief stints after the 12th.

  64. Well, IMO it changes if the Nationals win before Wednesday. As long as they lose (and the Braves keep winning, of course), you’ve got to put a real starter out there. If the division becomes lost, I think you throw out Teheran or Delgado for one of those end-of-the-season starts, resting Minor/Maholm for potential relief duty on Friday.

  65. It seems to me that the fact that the Braves aren’t hitting changes the way Fredi should manage the game. I think you have to have the bullpen ready as soon as there is even a smidgen of trouble because there’s no guarantee the Braves can come back if they fall behind. Sometimes, Bobby would leave the starters in too long in elimination playoff games to give up runs. Of course, with Hall of Famers, you would be more likely to give more leeway. As well as Medlen has pitched, I don’t think he has earned that yet.

  66. Hey, that turns out to be almost true. “Hinske” derives from “Hintzke”, which is literally “son of Hintz” in Polish. “Hanson”, of course, being “son of Hans”. Thanks, Internet!

  67. Phillies jump on top of the Natspos.

    “Unfortunately, our offense won’t be joining us for the rest of this life.”

  68. The three closest MLB teams to me:

    Cincinnati: 1 Hour
    Cleveland: 2.5 Hours
    Detroit: 3 Hours

    But, yes, by all means, Pittsburgh games should be blacked out for me. Thanks, MLB.tv

  69. Stinky Hinske and Hanson the Manson.

    One farts away at-bats, the other kills the Braves’ chances at victory.

  70. 101- HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? Any novelty should have been scoured away over nineteen innings. And that game should have been the subject of intensive therapy for everyone involved, especially Jerry Meals, who must have advised the NFL’s replacement referees.

  71. If there was one series this season you thought the Red Sox would maybe get up for it would be now with a chance to spoil the Yankees’ chances at winning the division. And then Buchholz goes all Hanson on them and gives up three homers (or whatever hitting it out in that park counts as) in the second inning.

  72. Can’t believe I’m delusional enough to even ask this, but if the following happens, wouldn’t the braves be the top seed in the NL?

    Braves sweep Pirates
    Phillies sweep Natspos
    Cardinals sweep Reds
    Braves win tie-breaker game against Nats, which counts as game 163 and winning the game gives the braves the highest winning percentage in the NL

    Is this correct? If so, I hope Chip doesn’t find out because it will be his main talking point until the scenario is no longer possible.

  73. 7-0 Yankees, and Bobby Valentine yanks Buchholz. If either of them have a job in Boston after Thursday, it ain’t on merit.

  74. Bourn picked a good time to decide to start earning some of the money again.

    Nah, that starts this Friday. Remember the ridiculous contract from the Mets that Beltran received after his amazing postseason with the Astros in 2004?

  75. Boston gets out of the second only giving up a very respectable 4 home runs, 2 doubles, 2 singles, 2 walks and a sac fly.

  76. It’s somewhat disheartening but I’ve just come to accept that any lefty with a reasonably high ERA will just shut the Braves down.

  77. Good lord, I obviously jinxed the offense. This guy Locke is wretched, but he’s probably headed for a complete game.

  78. If McCann gets any slower he is going to start getting thrown out on routine singles to the outfield.

  79. It’s a fitting finish, really. If the Braves hadn’t been in Hibernation Mode for the last six weeks we would have clinched the division last week.

  80. I feel I should remind everybody that we won nearly 20 games last month, and that it’s not reasonable to expect the team to do much better than that. We were just too far behind. It’s possible the lack of offense doesn’t bode well for the playoffs, but it really doesn’t have much to do with us not winning the division, as we’re winning despite it.

  81. I would rather the Nats have to win to clinch, but I think having Medlen pitch the play-in game and then playing the next two games is not too shabby. We ain’t dead.

  82. Nick, that is the definition of strange logic. We’ve won as many games as we have because our pitching has been excellent, and despite a woeful offense. With a better offense we would have won more games, not the same number or fewer.

  83. And we won for the other five months because of our offense, which picked up our lousy pitching. You can say that if we had all aspects of our team rolling at the same time, we’d have won every game last month, but it’s just not realistic. You don’t know what would happen with the pitching if we were hitting. I really doubt it would result in us winning much more than 20 games for the month.

  84. Coop: the basic idea is sort of like what they often tell you in school or in therapy, that before you can enter into a healthy relationship you have to first be willing to accept yourself as you are. People who hate themselves are not good romantic partners.

    And so, I believe that self-hating Boston fans have difficulty entering a successful loving relationship with their sports teams.

  85. 171- Snooze, snooze into the dying of the light.

    Congratulations, Nationals. Your joy will be short-lived.

  86. Well, that sucked. So much for controlling your own destiny.

    The stupid Nats get to pop champagne win or lose.

  87. So based on what we saw tonight, Medlen has to shut out the Cards on Friday night. And even that might not be enough.

  88. All of our regular starters should sit tomorrow. Minimize the risk of strained obliques or whatever other mishaps might occur.

    Let’s hope the Dodgers can somehow tie the Cards.

  89. I don’t think Chipper is slumping as much as he is just exhausted. He had no business playing tonight.

  90. The Nationals tried to make it interesting. If the Braves didn’t lose to the Mets and Pirates, they’d be one game out with two to play.

  91. I understand that each player has his own way of preparing for the season, and his own training regimen during the season. And there are reasons we’re not always privy to as to why someone’s body may betray them, or why they may not be able to work out the way they’d like.

    That said, there are three players who’ve been on the roster all season who are noticeably not in ideal physical condition — McCann, Hanson, and Hinske, and every one of them fell off a cliff this year. From a cumulative 3.6 WAR in 2011 (lower than I expected) to -1.2 in 2012. Pretty much everyone else, even the relief pitchers, look like they’ve dedicated themselves to staying in shape, and have been successful in doing so. It’s a cliched point to make, I realize, but aren’t these guys being paid pretty well?

  92. Oh yay, just in a time for the ‘They just don’t want it enough’ party! Someone throw me a torch and pitchfork, let’s do this!

  93. 192- That’s been a recurring problem for the Braves in recent years. They lost their last six in 2009 to lose a shot at the playoffs, nearly blew the wild card in 2010 and then didn’t hit against the Giants, and last year doesn’t bear thinking about. There’s a serious problem with conditioning on this team, and our pitchers performing well is the exception and not the rule.

  94. Let’s watch Adam disprove the correlation between fitness and athletic performance, and treat the individual opinions on the board like the Borg again.

  95. I hope audition time is over, and we get some at bats for the bench guys who are actually going to be on the roster.

  96. For the love of God, Brian McCann is playing with a frayed labrum and a cyst in his shoulder, and with tendinitis in his hamstring. Plus whatever other bumps and bruises he has from catching. I’m sure that’s all because his general fitness level is in the toilet, though. What in the hell are you talking about?

  97. Medlen did suggest during an interview that Hanson is a fatass and needs to get in shape. It’s crazy, Medlen actually went out of his way to point out that the thing he liked most about starting was that he could really push his cardio workouts on his off days.

    Fortunately Hinske is gone, and I’ll be my shorts that McCann miraculously discovers serious offseason conditioning. Possibly a personal chef and hot yoga. Lots of fluff pieces in the AJC. Contract years are funny like that.

  98. @197, Looks to me like you’re the expert at lumping unlike things together here. Prove that your correlation applies to any of the above players, and then you don’t get mocked. There are much more plausible explanations for each of their declines.

  99. Team OPS in the .640’s for the last month. We’re limping to the finish line. I’m gonna keep telling myself that we’re just saving up for when it counts.

  100. So, Nick, McCann wasn’t twenty pounds overweight before he injured his shoulder and hurt his hamstring?

    Chipper flat out admitted that he never bothered with offseason conditioning until he had to rehab his knee.

  101. Adam, if you find me a plausible explanation for Hinske’s decline that doesn’t include the fact that he is a fatass and I’ll eat my shorts. Again.

  102. I’m totally open to the idea that Hinske’s not built to age well. It’s the grouping of him with McCann and Hanson that seems off to me. Three different players, three different sets of circumstances.

  103. @199

    What am I talking about? He’s fat, he’s been fat for a good while now, and it’s probably contributing to the injuries that may be conspiring to reduce his effectiveness and shorten his career. Just because I like him and root for him doesn’t blind me to that.

    @201

    Prove that, taken together, a group of players who are noticeably less than fit are performing less well athletically than another group of fit players? Why would anyone have to do that?

  104. @204

    He’s freaking old! Has it ever occurred to you that he just might not have it anymore? And McCann looked fine earlier in the year. Had even lost weight last offseason, if I remember correctly. His downturn correlates exactly to when the shoulder issue cropped up. It wouldn’t matter if he were the world’s greatest athlete with a frayed labrum and a cyst in his shoulder. You’re completely talking out of your ass.

  105. Even if he was fat, which he’s not (at least by any reasonable definition), how in the hell would a degenerative shoulder injury have anything to do with that? I do applaud you on your expert preparations toward trashing the entire team for not giving a crap if they lose on Friday. If they do, remind me to not come on here and have to deal with that BS conversation.

  106. Hinske just turned 35. He is no older than he is fat and out of shape. He might “just not have it anymore” but for a professional athlete that is not a falsifiable claim if you are also in sorry shape.

    Those stories about McCann losing weight last offseason were in response to what exactly? Oh, that’s right, the fact that his conditioning needed to improve if he wanted to perform at the same level as in the past.

    Like with a lot of other baseball teams, fitness has never been a big part of the Braves clubhouse culture. Hopefully that changes.

  107. The Braves are not limping to the finish line. They were 19-8 in September. The last I heard, pitching was part of a baseball team as well.

    Look, I know everyone hates the Nats right now and, given that I like them, my credibility might be short. But, let’s face it, the Nats were significantly better than the Braves for most of the season. They had a deeper lineup and better pitching. They beat the hell out of the Braves until the last three games in Atlanta. Frankly, the Braves move primarily came about, except for those games, because they were playing bad teams while the Nats were not. The Nats didn’t back in; they built a lead and held on. They won 96 games. The Braves have nothing to be ashamed of finishing second. Unfortunately, in this playoff system finishing second is problematic.

    I thought before the season that the Braves were a 85-88 win team and I don’t think I was alone. Look at what the Braves had to overcome. McCann had the worst year of his career, whether due to injuries or not. You have a 40 year old third baseman on his last legs, a shortstop situation that was a real problem for the first part of the year, a second baseman who was one of the worst players in baseball for a two month stretch, a centerfielder who basically disappeared offensively for most of the second half, a pitching staff that had to be rebuilt on the run during the season.

    And, yet, this team won 93 games. I think it’s amazing. It’s not as if the Braves have overwhelming talent because they don’t, at least not with McCann and Uggla struggling most of the year. IMO, the Braves are a good but certainly not great team.

  108. @212 I don’t disagree with your overall assessment, but I think the offense is certainly limping home. The second half (and the recent month in particular) have been decidedly below league average. I think this offense is kind of what you’d expect to find on a near-.500 team. The pitching has exceeded expectations. Medlen and Minor have been awesome, as has the bullpen for the most part. That’s why we’re in the playoffs. How long we stay will probably hinge on our ability to throw shutouts.

  109. I thought 88 wins sounded about right, too. I’ve been impressed with Fredi’s bullpen management, the outfield play, and the bolts from the blue that have sustained our rotation all season long.

  110. With Medlen and Minor pitching as well as any two starters in baseball, Hudson a solid #3 and a filthy bullpen, there are reasons to be optimistic.

  111. Since the all-star break the Braves don’t just have the best starting pitcher in the universe, they also have the top TWO starting pitchers in the entire NL. Plus well above average #3 and #4 starters in Hudson and Maholm. And their bullpen is the best in baseball. On the pitching side the Braves are the very definition of overwhelming talent.

    And yet the offense has actually been slightly worse than during last year’s epic collapse. One strong leg and one weak one. That is the definition of limping is it not?

    The impression that Nats the are backing into the playoffs has nothing to do with the teams they are playing (the Phillies are actually pretty horrible, especially when you only have to face one of their big three, and they only faced a single real pitcher in the Milwaukee series). The impression is owed to the fact that both their #3 and #4 starters have turned back into pumpkins. Meanwhile the back end of their bullpen is increasingly less effective. I hope we are lucky enough to play them the first round instead of Cincinnati. And not just because I hate them.

  112. @216,

    I agree that the Nats are vulnerable now. But they did win 96 games. Maybe the more apt phrase is to say they are limping into the playoffs.

    Certainly agree that the offense is limping in. But whether you win 2-1 or 10-0, a win is a win. But, clearly, the offense is a problem going in as it has been many times in the past.

    The Braves pitching has been overwhelming. But it wasn’t for much of the year.

    “I hope we are luch enough to play them in the first round instead of Cincinnati.”

    I hope we are lucky enough to play anybody in the first round. St. Louis is playing well now. If I were them, I would call up some nobody left-hander from the minors to pitch the game.

    BTW, this is probably the first time in baseball history there has been a three day break before a one-game playoff.

  113. #211: Hey, it’s nice to be cited as an expert witness in the “Hinske Is Fat” trial. Thanks! :-)

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