Friday, April 19, 2013

Game 1 Recap: Pirates 4/18/13

Somewhere the Arizona GM is curled into the fetal position in his bathtub with a bottle of scotch. Not because he traded away the MLB home run leader right now. He got something in return for that deal with Martin Prado, and there's no way Justin would be performing in Arizona the way he's peforming for the Braves. No, the thing that's keeping the Arizona GM up at night is Chris Johnson. Chris Johnson was just supposed to be a nice utility guy to sweeten the deal. Now CJ's leading the majors in batting average, and he's got 3 doubles, and 2 homers to boot. Thanks D-backs!

CJ had himself a nice game last night. Just 3/4 with a walk, a homer, and 2 RBIs. Ho hum. Some other guys also stepped up, like the Upton bros. BJ had a double and a homer, and Justin had a bash to left that left the yard after sailing 428 feet. Oh yeah, and some guy named Gattis came off the bench for his first PH ever and won the game with a 2 run shot inside the left field foul pole. The only guy in the lineup who didn't get on base last night was Jason Heyward.

Teheran pitched poorly. He's now pitched poorly in all his 3 outings. The upside is that we've also won all those games with great offense. However, I get questions from people about Teheran, and most people are asking if he's going to be a long-term solution in this starter role? The answer in my mind is, maybe. The Braves are winning in his starts, which is the biggest deal. That means that he gets some leeway as a starter since we're outhitting his mistakes. Really the main concern with Juilio right now is his command. He's trying to make perfect pitches to get himself out of trouble, and as a result he gets himself into bad counts. The hitters are teeing off on pitches were they know he has to throw strikes. It's the classic rookie pitcher mistake, and it's the same thing Minor went through in the beginning of last season. I think Teheran is going to be on a similar track as Minor. He's got to learn in the first half how to pitch without fear, and how to ignore the situation and focus on the batter he can control.

The other thing Teheran needs to focus on is his pitching to LH batters. The splits between the sides of the plate are astounding. From the right hand side, batters are hitting .222 with only 1 homer in 36 ABs. From the left hand side? Batters are hitting .433 with 4 bombs and 10 RBIs. Pretty much all of the disasters are coming from lefty sticks. Also, the higher walk totals are coming to lefties. Teheran is losing focus on those batters, and he's falling behind into counts that favor hitters. The most dangerous pitch for Teheran has been a 2-1 count, and he has to throw a strike to not fall further behind. Batters are teeing off on those pitches at a .444 rate. Can it be fixed? Yes. Minor had the same problem in 2010 when he was giving up all his homers to one side of the plate. After the All-Star break, Mike settled in and went from a 5.97 ERA to a 2.16 ERA to finish the season. It can be done, and we have the pitching coaches and support to help.

At the end of the day, there are no ugly wins. A 6-4 victory on a night where our starter didn't have it is just fine with me. The CPA predicted a loss, and accurately predicted the Pirates with 4 runs. However, it's having trouble with the Braves home run production, and as such, it was wrong again. At least it's the good kind of wrong. It's now 10-5 on the season with a possible game tonight unless it's rained out. Time for another prediction.

CPA Prediction Game 2: Braves 4 - Pirates 1

If this gets played. I think the Braves hold a large advantage with Huddy on the mound. He just needs to get through the first couple of innings to get rolling, and if he does, it's lights out for a Pirates lineup that doesn't hit him well historically. The good news is I think the radar shows things clearing by gametime, so keep your fingers crossed that we stay dry.

GO BRAVES!

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