Ryan Howard 5, Braves 4

We should probably stop pitching to Ryan Howard. To wit, here are his numbers from 2012-2015:

Against Atlanta: 161 PA, .217/.304/.497, 12 HR, 32 RBI
Against all other teams: 1145 PA, .233/.307/.402, 39 HR, 170 RBI

Just for comparison, Jeff Francoeur’s career triple slash is .261/.305/.417, meaning that our pitchers turn Ryan Howard from Jeff Francoeur into Dave Kingman.

And that’s just what happened last night, when the newest member of our starting rotation, Trevor Cahill, had a vintage 2006 Tim Hudson Episode in the first inning, then basically settled down for the rest of the game, allowing just three hits and one run the rest of the way. There’s still some reason to hope that this guy could be a decent pitcher again, but getting smacked around by this Phillies offense is no way to inspire confidence.

So Howard’s three-run homer provided the Phillies with a cushion, and after Cahill came out of the game, they managed a little ABE baseball of their own. (Get ’em on, get ’em over, then score when the other team commits an error.) This time it was Freddie Freeman ranging on a ground ball and throwing the ball behind the pitcher, Ian Thomas, who was covering first. Albert Callaspo hit a pinch homer off closer Jonathan Papelbon, but it was too little, too late.

Today it’s the Nationals, who have been scuffling themselves, coming off a sweep by the Fish. They’re last in the majors in fielding and they’re without third baseman Anthony Rendon — who is probably the best player on the team and is recovering from a spring training knee injury. And that means that on many days their infield has featured Yunel Escobar at third and Dan Uggla at second.

If you’re wondering why the Nats have been losing, that just might be one possibility. Let’s see if we can kick ’em while they’re down.

146 thoughts on “Ryan Howard 5, Braves 4”

  1. @1 – LOL.
    To ‘Rissa previous thread. But wouldn’t we have designated base runners to prevent such a calamity as your star defender hurting himself on the basepaths?

  2. @2, there will be one designated runner per team–an olympic sprinter. The others will be ghost men.

    Chip: “Andrelton GLIDES, GLOVES, GUUUNNNNS it to second in time to retire the ghost man. Man, he is worth the price of admission!”

  3. Watching pitchers hit is not enjoyable in the least, especially when the team you like is lucky to score 3 runs in a game to begin with. Bring on the DH. Can’t come soon enough.

    There was a time when pitchers were usually the best players on the team and would play SS or OF when not pitching. That time is long past though. I’ve always wondered why NL teams didn’t drive up the market rates for decent hitting pitchers, thus encouraging guys to work on that side of the game and give their teams an advantage. But the system has done the exact opposite – pitchers don’t hit much at all the minors. I don’t want to watch an automatic out. Might as well just shorten all games to 8 innings.

  4. Look, pitchers can’t hit. Every 10 years there’s a pitcher who can handle the bat. Why are we subjected to pitchers “hitting” every 9 hitters? Move on. Get the DH in here!

  5. Imagine if the designated “clubhouse guy” never had to take the field. We could be seeing Tony Robbins, Richard Simmons, the Dalai Lama on MLB payrolls.

  6. @2 Presumably the star defender wouldn’t have to run because he wouldn’t be hitting in the first place, but you bring up a good point. We’ll have to go with 45-man rosters and have designated defenders, hitters, and runners. The runners can be stationed midway down the first base line, to ensure there are no running injuries to the hitters. Now we just need to figure out how to let the pitchers use someone else’s arm, so as to obliterate Tommy John surgeries, and we’ll really be in business. (In all seriousness, though, Wainwright’s a good guy and his injury really stinks. What a way to lose your season.)

    @4 Natspos semper delenda est, especially when they’re down. Now’s the perfect chance to kick them just a little harder.

  7. I am not a fan of the DH but watching pitchers bat has become dreadful. Maybe it was always this bad but most of them can’t even bunt.

  8. Minor Leagues:

    AAA:
    Todd Cunningham has put together a 7-game hitting streak in which he is 12-25. He’s now slashing .302/.345/.396 and probably playing a better CF than fellow switch-hitter EYJ

    Peraza is slashing .271/.311/.314 and has stolen 5 bases, but hitting .310 with 4 steals in the last 10 games (his first 7 games were horrid).

    Folty has struck out a fierce 30 men in 21.2 innings but has walked 10. This is actually pretty close to his minors career BB/9, so we’re hoping to see that improve this season.

    AA:
    Mallex Smith : .322/.344/.424 with 6 steals

    Daniel Castro: .386/.400/.474 in 57 AB is straight BABIPin’

    Rio Ruiz: .224/.316/.286

    Tyrell Jenkins: 2.33 ERA in 19.1 innings but 9 BB to only 8 K

    A:
    Mudcats got 1-hit yesterday, which is no surprise because only 3 hitters on the team are hitting above .230. One of those is

    Jacob Schrader: .324/.375/.622 in 37 AB

    Rome:
    Albies hit .310 in his last 10 games to boost his once anemic slash to a respectable .270/.333/.302

    Davidson homered yesterday: .222/364/.400 with 10 walks and 18 K’s in 55 plate appearances

  9. I had forgotten Peraza is at AAA. If Peterson continues to struggle offensively, I wonder when Peraza will get his shot.

    We really haven’t been that bad offensively. Fredi seems to be doing a pretty good job of mixing and matches with the talent. It would seem getting Callaspo some more at-bats at second and some better production out of the platoon against right handed pitching in center would help a lot.

    What’s interested is we are 11th in baseball in ERA, but 25th in quality starts. If we can get the 4th and 5th spots going, our win total could be in the 80s this year. Going along the lines of the comments yesterday about where we’d be if we kept last year’s core, I really like where we are in the Rebuilding(TM) process.

  10. We’re going to need to get the 1 and 2 spots going, too; and getting Miller to throw 7 innings would be nice icing.

  11. According to Baseball Reference, Andrelton Simmons has been worth 1.1 WAR so far this season. As a whole, our position players have been worth 1 WAR, so you can do the math on what that means we’ve gotten from everyone besides Andrelton.

  12. @12-So far the Braves are showing what a nearly complete dearth of hitting prospects at all levels looks like. The one totally unexpected bright spot has to be Matt Lipka’s line at AA: .367/.396 /.510/.906. Largely BABIP but it is worth noting that he is only 23, he is still the best athlete in the system, he lost an entire year last year to injury, and he was always on average 2 years younger than his competition at every level. He could turn out to be one of those guys whose development was badly impeded by having been promoted when he clearly wasn’t ready.

  13. The DH will be another position that the wealthier teams can spend $15 million on while the Braves get cheap replacement player. Careful what you wish for guys.

  14. @12

    I think Mallex Smith should get some consideration for the CF job this summer. If he keeps hitting the ball like he has, he would fill a lot of needs.

  15. @17: I am intrigued by the suggestion from a random commenter on the article that ties the DH to the starting pitcher. Starting pitcher exits and the DH exits. Tying it to every pitcher just isn’t feasible, and I’m not sure this idea is either.

  16. @17, You could make the same argument to eliminate the DH in the AL, in order to achieve equality across the leagues. I get that the player’s union wouldn’t go for it, which is where the sense of inevitability comes in.

    I just find it telling that something so flimsy as Wainwright hurting his ankle leaving the batters’ box could spur such a well-timed wave of sentiment from Scherzer, Ausmus, et al. And that the anti-DH sentiment is relatively disorganized, with no one actually in the game having an interest in stumping for it.

  17. Alex,

    I think the rule is that if the DH plays in the field, the pitcher then moves into the slot occupied by the replaced fielder.

  18. Right you are! My memory was cloudy. Here’s the rule:


    (4) Pinch-hitters for a Designated Hitter may be used. Any substitute hitter for a Designated Hitter becomes the Designated Hitter. A replaced Designated Hitter shall not re-enter the game in any capacity.
    (5) The Designated Hitter may be used on defense, continuing to bat in the same position in the batting order, but the pitcher must then bat in the place of the substituted defensive player, unless more than one substitution is made, and the manager then must designate their spots in the batting order.
    (6) A runner may be substituted for the Designated Hitter and the runner assumes the role of Designated Hitter. A Designated Hitter may not pinch-run.
    (7) A Designated Hitter is “locked” into the batting order. No multiple substitutions may be made that will alter the batting rotation of the Designated Hitter.
    (8) Once the game pitcher is switched from the mound to a position on defense, such move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for that club for the remainder of the game.
    (9) Once a pinch-hitter bats for any player in the batting order and then enters the game to pitch, such move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for that club for the remainder of the game.
    (10) Once the game pitcher bats or runs for the Designated Hitter, such move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for that club for the remainder of the game. The game pitcher may pinch-hit or pinch-run only for the Designated
    Hitter.

    (12) Once a Designated Hitter assumes a position on defense, such move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for that club for the remainder of the game.

    (14) If a player on defense goes to the mound (i.e., replaces the pitcher), this move shall terminate the Designated Hitter’s role for that club for the remainder of the game.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2014/official_baseball_rules.pdf

  19. Jarrod Saltalamacchia DFA’d by the Marlins. In keeping with the Kelly Johnson Nostalgia Trip, I kind of want him back in Atlanta.

  20. Some in Boston felt Salty was horrible at handling the pitching staff. He’s an offensive catcher who isn’t that good at offense.

  21. @32 I’ll volunteer to be president of the “Bring Back Blaine” fan club, if only because he is the only player I’ve ever gotten my picture taken with.

  22. Funny, but there’s a baby head in the URL window at the top of this page. Has the baby head been lurking there for ten years?

  23. Just went back to read some Francoeur nicknames in the glossary. I lol’ed at “Delta Flight .280 OBP”

  24. It occurred to me that even among the anti-DH crowd (of whose number I’ve always counted myself) there must be a level of pitcher hitting ineptitude that’s unacceptable as viable entertainment. I looked at 40 years of data to see whether pitcher hitting relative to league has degraded — and, if so, by how much. I took the yearly OPS+ splits (a relative measure, 100 being average) for pitcher hitting, then grouped them into four-year intervals. I don’t read much analysis these days, so if this or something like it has already been done elsewhere…well, I’m sure it has, because what hasn’t?

    1971-74 50 (13+9+9+19)
    1975-78 40
    1979-82 39
    1983-86 13
    1987-90 -1
    1991-94 3
    1995-98 3
    1999-02 -2
    2003-06 -12
    2007-10 -10
    2011-14 -18

    And 2015, by its lonesome, is a whatever-is-the-opposite-of-gaudy -36. I think I’m a convert. They can’t do it anymore, at all, and no amount of shaming or huffing about tradition is going to change that fact. The sport gets harder and harder, as does any richly rewarded area of human expertise. Evolution, baby.

  25. If they want more offense in an era when runs are at a premium, then giving the NL the DH would be a way to do it.

    Also: I have always hated the unbalanced schedule.

  26. The “no DH” argument is the same argument for every reason why baseball is declining in popularity: “it’s the way we’ve always done it”. Baseball insists on not moving with the culture, and accordingly, the culture has moved with other forward-thinking sports. If baseball truly desires to target the young fan, increase in popularity, compete with the NFL, they need to decrease the strike zone, shorten the season, and add the dadgum DH in the NL. There’s no drama in the regular season until September, nothing happens in the average baseball game, and we have to watch a woefully inadequate hitter in the box 3 times a game. The NFL is constantly tweaking its rules and MLB is just sitting on its front porch screaming, “it’s about the tradition! Get off my lawn!”

    I love baseball with all of my heart, it’s by far my favorite sport, I’ve played it since I was a kid even through college, and I play softball now to get my fix, but it’s boring. It’s just a boring sport. I’m a young professional, I have disposable income, and I LOVE BASEBALL, but I don’t want to go 12 minutes down the road to the Trop to watch a 2-1 ballgame for 3 hours of my life while other entertainment competes. It’s boring. I’d rather work than watch baseball sometimes. The only reason I go to baseball games is to talk shop with my colleagues or catch up with my friends. I’m not there for the game, even though I’d love to be.

  27. I am really enjoying watching this on ESPN. I am not completely against our announcers, but it is nice to hear some different opinions on our team.

  28. @47 Well about 80% of their focus is on the Nationals, 10% on Andrelton, and 10% on the rest of the Braves. I will grant that the production quality is top-notch, however.

  29. Yeah, I’m glad we left a situation with runners at the corners so that we could watch Alex Rodriguez pop out.

  30. @24, I might posit that NL owners constitute an organized opposition. Not sure how interested they are interested in adding another premium dollar position to their payroll.

  31. Coincidentally, the radio team is discussing the DH rule now, and the compromise in the news they are talking about is expanding the roster by one or two players and eliminating the DH in both leagues.

  32. Did Chip just say “He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb”

    I am tempted to say things about Chip that are inappropriate.

  33. Kelly needed to make absolutely sure that Stults would lead off the bottom of the fifth, just in case Young didn’t hit a ground ball there.

  34. That slide by Andrelton, which literally ripped the glove (with the ball) off of Escobar’s hand, was kind of sublime.

    And there are the boos for Mr. Uggla.

  35. This is something I don’t like about Fredi. You’re best player is tossed for some reason, you need to get tossed too. Take up for your player

  36. @76 Or be out there arguing, even if you don’t necessarily disagree with the call, before your best player gets himself tossed.

    Ah, how I missed the comic stylings of a Dan Uggla strikeout looking.

  37. You’re right Smitty. Bobby would sometimes get out there and take up the argument and get tossed himself while the player stayed in the game.

  38. Fredi is too busy coloring or playing Words With Friends with DOB. You have to protect the player, or at least watch the games.

  39. Six innings pitched by our starter! And we have the lead!

    I’m pulling for Uggla despite myself.

  40. Pierzynski has done more for the Braves in one month than Gerald Laird did for them in two years.

  41. Zimmerman can’t be charged with an error there I guess, but the Nats look bad in the field again tonight.

    Hey a homer!

  42. Just got home and read through the thread. I want to resign Rico Carty and Julio Franco. I suspect they can still pinch hit. Carty is 75. If it turns out he can hit, I want to resign Ted Williams’ frozen head.

  43. It seemed Stults figured something out last week in the second or third inning of the Mets game. And some of the credit may go to Pierzynski.

  44. 96 — Wood pitched into the 8th in a game in Toronto but was left in too long, then the ‘pen gave it up.

  45. So wait…Gomes is thrown out, but not the pitcher?! Somebody better throw at Harper.

  46. That was crazy. There was no reason to throw at Simmons there just because he was playing hard earlier. I wonder who made the decision to do that.

  47. I hope Matt Williams’ “All is well. We will be fine” routine continues indefinitely.

  48. From the way everybody talks about Gomes, I would not be surprised to see him as a manager after his playing career is over.

  49. These chumps are the NL favorites? I just watched the Braves lose two out of three to the Phillies, and the presumptive champions are playing them like they’ve got somewhere else to be.

  50. Last year, the Braves were 29th in sacrifice flies. By the end of the day, the Braves should be 9th. That’s got to be a good sign.

  51. Barring disaster, only the Brewers will have a worse record after tonight than your National League favorites.

  52. Do the rules allow a base runner sliding into a base to kick the ball out of the fielder’s glove perched above it as Simmons appeared to do – I’ve only seen the play once.
    And wasn’t there a hoohah a few years ago when A-Rod incurred scorn when he elbowed a fielder tagging him on his way to first base hard enough that the ball was dropped, he was safe, then called out?
    So is the ball in a fielder’s glove sacrosant or fair game? The Simmons’ kick being OK because it occurred naturally as part of his slide into the base while A-Rod’s elbow was totally contrived?

  53. I really like what AJP is doing for the club with his bat, but what is up with him not being able to hold the ball in his glove when he is catching? I swear, it seems like he is always dropping.

    Apparently when Jace Peterson hits in a game, he does not throw the ball well in the field. He has 2 errors charged to him and 2 more horrible throws on DP attempts.

  54. I hated the Dodgers in the early 90’s, I hated the Mets in the early 00’s but I dont know if I have ever hated a team like I do the gNats! Maybe its Harper, maybe its Werth, I dont know but I will savor every win over these guys and relish that they are now 6 games under .500.

  55. I was amongst the 12k or so fans at the Ted tonight. Good times for sure. RF seats right behind the wall, heckled Harper all night (most of it high-brow). I still don’t think we’re any good, but I gotta say…holy shit…the Nationals are terrible. Bad defense. No hustle. Just terrible. I hate that f’ing team with the power of a thousand suns. Very fun evening at the Ted.

  56. Beisbol! Are the Hawks seriously contemplating becoming like the 4th #1 seed to lose to a #8? And would it be the first 60 win team to do it?

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