Great American Smallpark Game Thread, May 6

Paul Maholm! Bronson Arroyo! Laugh all you want, but two more dependable #3 starters you won’t find. Arroyo doesn’t really have a fastball, he doesn’t really strike anybody out, and I’m not sure that I can think of a single reason that he has 126 wins in the majors, has been worth around 24 Wins Above Replacement, and is still able to hold down a rotation spot in a tiny ballpark at the age of 36. I’ve often said that Livan Hernandez was like a knuckleballer who just didn’t have a knuckleball; Arroyo is basically a left-hander who just happens to be right-handed.

Paul Maholm is in the middle of a career renaissance, despite the fact that his fastball is actually about half a mile slower than Arroyo’s. He’s five years younger, and has only won 69 games and 15 Wins Above Replacement, but they’ve been of roughly comparable value throughout their careers. However, since coming to Atlanta, Maholm decided to start striking people out. Lots of people. He’s averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in a Braves uniform (106 2/3 innings overall), after averaging 5.6 K/9 in the 1264 career innings prior. Could be a fluke — but it also might be that he’s on the best team that he’s ever played for, with the best defense he’s ever played for, and that’s made him a better pitcher. We’ll see how he does the rest of the year, but I think that some of the improvement is likely legit.

Also, there’s this: Arroyo was drafted by the Pirates in 1995. Maholm was drafted by the Pirates in 2003. They are the two best Pirates draftees between Jason Kendall and Andrew McCutchen.

The Pirates giveth, and they giveth some more.

259 thoughts on “Great American Smallpark Game Thread, May 6”

  1. Hmmm, Ill take the over.

    Maybe some of BJ’s pop ups to second will carry out.

  2. Tonight’s lineup at CIN (7:10, SS/ESPN/680AM/BRN): BUpton 8 CJohnson 5 JUpton 9 Freeman 3 Gattis 7 McCann 2 Uggla 4 Simmons 6 Maholm 1

    Well there you have it, Gattis in LF. Like it.

  3. It’s pretty crazy how many lineups we’ve seen, though I guess most of it is injury related.

  4. Braves have used 23 different batting orders (1-8 hitters only) in 30 games.

    Only one player has occupied the same batting order spot in all 30 games. That player is…

  5. I’m up for seeing Gattis in LF, but honestly I was looking forward to seeing Success leading off in front of C. Johnson.

  6. @4 I like it. With apologies to Smitty, The Original Fredi Gonzales is putting the best lineup out there. Well ok he’s putting BJ out there but he has 75 million reasons he has to.

    So, we’ll either get shut out, whiffing 18 times or we’ll score 2 touchdowns and a field goal. I’m looking forward to watching tonight.

  7. It’s crazy how much of a difference adding in a cutter has helped Maholm.

  8. Here’s an amazing statistical tidbit: per Fangraph’s calculation of WAR, BJ Upton, Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, and McCann have been worth a grand total of -0.1 WAR this season. I’m really pumped to see McCann return to action tonight, and I have a feeling we’ll start seeing some markedly better results from BJ soon too.

  9. Braves lineup:
    1. B. Upton CF
    2. C.Johnson 3B
    3. J.Utpon RF
    4. Freeman 1B,
    5. Gattis LF
    6. McCann C
    7. Uggla 2B
    8. Simmons SS
    9. Maholm P

  10. Jeff Francoeur 2012, 148 games played, 603 plate appearances, .665 OPS
    Jeff Francoeur 2013, 26 games played, 105 plate appearances, .659 OPS

    Definition of insanity- Extreme foolishness or irrationality

    Seriously, what is wrong with the Royals? Why would they do this to themselves?

  11. But he’s the 4th highest salaried player on the team! You have to start him!

    Reminds me of “the food is terrible here – and such small portions!”

  12. It’s pretty clear that Gattis will be with this team moving forward. What did they do to create a spot for McCann?

  13. Jim brings good news

    Jason Heyward homered on his last swing during just-completed batting practice. Good to see him swinging it with authority. #Braves— Jim Powell (@Jim_Powell) May 6, 2013

  14. MLB Extra Innings gives me the Cincy broadcast, which means no Chip and also Skyline commercials. I miss Skyline chili…

  15. Strike 1, 2, 3, yer out! Meanwhile the announcers helpfully remind that BJ signed the richest contract in Braves history.

  16. Arroyo doesn’t really have a fastball, he doesn’t really strike anybody out

    Of course, it helps to swing.

  17. Freddie! Nice to see one of those there rallies that doesn’t depend on hitting one over the fence. (Not that I’d mind, Evan. Hint.)

  18. So did Upton strike out looking at three straight pitches, and Gattis strike out swinging at three straight pitches?

  19. Evan got worked by Arroyo.

    It just dawned on me I’m watching McCann come up after Gattis. Surreal….

  20. Arroyo doesn’t really have a fastball, he doesn’t really strike anybody out…

    And of course, he goes on to strike out the side in the first inning against the Braves.

  21. Well, let’s hope Maholm pitches so he only needs one run. So far he’s looking sharp.

  22. SIMMONS! Now if Uggla hadn’t been standing there like a bump on a log…

  23. Ok i see what yall mean. A lot going on with Buptons swing. Gonna be hard for him to get his timing back.

  24. Because he’s throwing a lot of unhittable slop at the knees and on the corners. And we’ve also made him throw 45 pitches through 2 innings.

  25. Since Gattis doesn’t move his front foot and he has an open stance you would think he sees nothing but stuff outside or breaking balls middle out.

  26. Simmons is due a few more of those, given his .239 BABIP.

  27. Looks like we caught a break there with that bad call at 2nd. BJ is bound to do something good at some point, right?

  28. @66, 67 – agreed. I usually find ESPN’s announcing to be unreasonably biased against the Braves, but in this case, they’re right that Simmons was out at 2nd.

  29. Jeez, I know Arroyo throws some funky stuff, but BJ looks really, really bad at the plate today.

  30. Yeah, BJ is a disaster right now. Have you ever seen anyone miss fastballs down the middle that badly so often?

    In my mind, I was actually entertaining a Sac there.

  31. BJ looks bad against everyone. He’s freaking awful. Just keep telling myself Justin will average it out so that we’ve got 2 decent players. The fact that we gave this guy 75 million is just mind boggling.

  32. Aaaargh. And right after ESPN ran that stupid promo for Brandon Phillips’ RBI production.

    EDIT – And there it is. An awful shame the Braves have stranded so many base runners so far.

  33. You just knew a tweener play would find gattis today. Got to keep that ball in front of you.

  34. That ball just bounced off Justin’s bat to right. And even though Freeman flew out, man it’s awesome watching him muscle balls to the off field.


  35. And that is why Gattis needs to play most every day, and I think he will.

  36. BJ and Dan are a combined 1 for 6 tonight, with 5 Ks. I think they are single-handedly (double-handedly?) skewing the league’s strikeout numbers.

  37. Dang, walking that guy is just asking for it. You gotta let him see how far he can hit it.

  38. That whole thing about the hitter having to actually try to avoid the pitch seems far gone.

  39. Announcers failing to mention that what choo does should NOT let him take first base. Not quite Dark Lord bad, but they seem to think he ain’t really trying to get out of the way.

  40. Sutcliffe informing me that Dusty Baker often shows caution with his pitchers…

  41. Was that a Corky Miller sighting?

    For a career .188 hitter, he finds a way to stay in the big leagues.

  42. Kinda hoping this goes extras b/c the mlb record for most strikeouts by one person in a single game would probably be within reach.

  43. For no particular reason whatsoever, what is the record for strikeouts by one batter in a single game? Six or seven’s a real possibility for Melvin tonight.

  44. Wow we are definately going to lead league in K’s …. 15 K’s already this game … we have had 2 busts on players in last 3 years .. Struggla and BJ Upton .. they both have no clue .. and too stubborn to change seems like … and we are stuck with them for 2 and 3 more years … I would have to start Shaffer and Pena if it was me .

  45. I remember Andruw racking up 5 in a 9 inning inter league game against Boston back in the day.

  46. Wonder id Arizona would take back Justins brother (BJ) fro Prado … we could throw in 5 mil or so towards BJ’s contact.

  47. I thought (and think) the floor is .230 with decent power, speed, and CF defense. Can’t believe this will keep up all year, and playing through it is the only option I’m afraid.

  48. I would rather Gattis had fielded the ball cleanly but then only made a ‘meh’ throw to 2nd, personally…

  49. I think we “only” have 10 K’s (15LOB is what you may have conflated) but still

  50. @133, that’s the year for sure, after all, he’s a notorious slow starter.

  51. LF defense rarely matters…just keep mashing and catch whatever is hit right at you and we’ll be fine.

  52. Gearrs of WAR. (didn’t exactly earn the exclamation point that I was going to go with)

  53. That restaurant in Cincinnati that gives away pizzas for every 11 K game will be bankrupt by the end of this series.

  54. Chris Johnson leads off the inning, strikes out. Crowd erupts in cheers. Huh?

    Turns out fans in Cincy get a free pizza if the Reds strike out 11 on the night. There’s gonna be some pizza companies going out of business whenever the Braves come into town.

  55. That pizza place has to be some kind of money laundering operation. No way anyone in it to succeed gives away pizzas for strikeouts when the Braves are in town.

  56. So there is a promotion that everyone with a ticket for the Reds game gets a free pizza if Reds pitchers strike out eleven or more opposing batters?

    Imagine if the Braves were a division rival.

  57. 11 Ks? That’s nothing. Pizza company picked the wrong opponent for that special.

  58. Pizza in the morning , pizza in the evening , pizza at supper time when the Braves are in town you can eat pizza every time!!.

  59. Okay, everybody, tomorrow night after our 11th strikeout, I want everybody to type “FREE PIZZA!!!” (Don’t forget, all caps!)

    I will find it amusing, and at the very least, it’ll confuse some folks that didn’t read tonight’s game thread. :-)

  60. So Gearrin is going to face three straight left-handed hitters. Interesting strategy.

    Edit: I guess not. But why let him face Robinson at all then?

  61. We need to bat around in one of the last 2 innings so Melvin can get two more AB’s.

  62. @149 They left in Gearrin to see if the Reds would put in a lefty PH. Choo bats next so at that point its a no-brainer to bring in a lefty to face the PH and Choo.

  63. So here’s an interesting thing to muse on:

    BJ Upton just started his five-year deal.
    Dan Uggla is just about halfway through his five-year deal.

    You get to jettison one of those players and their contracts free and clear. Which do you choose?

  64. @157: probably Uggla, just because Upton has only played one month for the Braves and isn’t this bad, and is still relatively young.

  65. Need to see another replay but I think we got another break on a call at 2nd.

  66. @157 Arod…oh wait well at least Uggla and BJ are actually working for their money.Seriously though I felt the same way about BJ’s contract as I felt about Lowe’s prove me wrong BJ please.

  67. Yeah… I don’t think Simmons ever tagged Choo. Thanks again, Tim Timmons!

  68. He was clearly safe on the replay. But we’re due for about 1000 more calls going our way before the shitty umpiring karma evens out…so yeah.

  69. Simba!

    Last replay showed Choo’s foot hitting Simmons’s wrist/glove area. There was definitely contact before Choo touched the base, but hard to tell for sure if it was glove or arm.

  70. And now that the game is safe… BJ can focus on his 5th K.

    EDIT: And he fails even in that.

  71. Schafer has really come around. I love that he talks about emulating Chipper’s approach. Seems to be working.

  72. I’m telling y’all, Success is deep into “hot hand” territory right now, but unlike “Pressure On The Defense” Constanza, it’s not based on luck. The guy’s got the best batting eye on the team right now, and can actually put the ball in play over the infielder’s heads (again, unlike Georgie).

    With BJ looking so terrible, Success deserves a few spot starts. Stick him in leadoff tomorrow and give BJ the night off. After a 4K night like tonight, it’s a good move.

  73. Numbers I thought would never be associated with Schafer ever again: .800 OPS

  74. I’m stunned. BJ didn’t get the platinum sombrero.

    edit I concur put the best team on the field.

  75. Can’t be good for a pitcher’s confidence to give up back-to-back to Simmons/Schafer. The over on the homers-for-the-series is looking good right now.

  76. Even if Schafer continues to hit better than Upton, he’ll give it back in the field. The Braves just need BJ to figure it out, and he’s gonna have to keep playing for that to happen.

  77. I miss the days when our bullpen got through its work without conceding a run.

  78. @205 I know, but BJ looks so lost now. He is clearly hurting us now. He has a 100 game leash, i’m betting.

  79. There’s 75 million reasons why BJ will continue to get 4 or 5 ABs per game, no matter how much of a vortex of suck he becomes.

  80. Reed is going to be the odd man out whenever Heyward returns. No reason for him to stick around if you are keeping Gattis as the RH’d bench bat.

    I heard that pizza joint has already given away like $30,000 in free pizzas this season. Stupid marketing idea that will bankrupt them.

  81. @214: I completely understand that reality. I also see the reality that it’s May 6th, he’s sporting a sub-.150 BA, and he just struck out four times when the rest of his pals in the lineup are spanking the ball.

  82. And now the Braves face J.J. Hoover, the player we traded to get Juan Francisco.

  83. @220, it’s just one month. Everyone is going to have a bad month. I’m frustrated watching him too, but you have to let him play out of it. His declining OBP and terrible approach at the plate should’ve scared us away from him, but instead we made him the highest paid free agent in Braves history. At this point all you can do is hope that he figures it out. He will not be benched, period.

  84. Side note: Bad news for Otis Nixon.
    Liked to watch him play.
    Hope things get better for him.

    Go Braves!

  85. Heresy, I know, but I like Kimbrel with a 3 run lead a lot better than anything less these days.

  86. @226: I don’t think giving Success a couple spot starts a week is benching. I also have great optimism that BJ will bat his way out of things given time.

  87. Just showed the replay from a different angle. He caught it. Was not a short hop.

  88. Who said Jordan doesn’t have good defense?

    Every defensive metric, and anyone who watched the route he took on that ball.

    Meanwhile, Kimbrel continues to get hit hard.

  89. @239 It was really close, but really looked like Success! trapped the ball in LF. Also, Kimbrel is definitely regular ol’ regression to the mean with some bad BABIP luck.

  90. @241 Tonight his two- and four-seam fastballs have been between 95-97 (just one at 97 so far).

  91. 239 — Yeah, I think he got it right in the top of the webbing and it looked like it bounced from both the glove and the ball in it hitting the grass.

  92. Nothing cheap about striking out Votto. Phew.

    By the way, Kimbrel has a 1.75 FIP and 1.83 xFIP. He looks fine, except for the higher LD% than usual. He should be okay.

  93. @242

    Very true on the BABIP. It’s up to .320 this year now. Was .250 for all of 2012.

    Bullet dodged.

  94. I don’t know about BABIP regression, more like just more BIP period. He’s gone from unhittable (98-100) to really hard to hit (94-97).

  95. Fangraphs has Kimbrel’s avg FB speed this season at 96.2 mph, off of 96.8 mph last season. That site also has his 2011 avg rate at 96.2 mph, same as this season.

  96. Good effort by Maholm against a quality side. The team has gotten more out of him than I ever thought.

  97. Ryan Klesko in Atlanta, 1992-1998:

    792 G, 2779 PA, 139 HR, 450 RBI, 301 BB/523 K, .281/.361/.525, -18 UZR, approx. 11 WAR

    Gattis could totally do that. And if he plays more of that at catcher, he’ll be worth a heck of a lot more than 11 WAR.

  98. With the upton brothers and Heyward, Gattis will have very little chance to play in the outfield…

  99. Yeah but since he’ll never start in the OF for a couple of years at least, the bet is Gattis + $> McCann. Probably still how I’d play it, but there is a non-trivial chance that McCann continues to be great. And think of what you’d get back for Gattis right now.

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