Posted: 4:16 pm Friday, April 4th, 2014

Short takes on Braves: Pitching, replay, Uptons 

By Jeff Schultz

Braves rookie David Hale allowed just one run in five innings. (AP photo)

Braves rookie David Hale allowed just one run in five innings. (AP photo)

I’ll be back soon with a column on the Braves’ series-opening 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full column on MyAJC.com.

1. PITCHING PROBLEMS? WHAT PROBLEMS? So much for injuries to the pitching staff devastating this team. In the first four games of this seasons, the Braves started an improbable quartet of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Aaron Harang and David Hale. Result: The team is 3-1 after Friday’s 2-1 win over the Nationals and own the best staff ERA in the majors at 1.29. Hale, making only his third career start, did not allow a run in his five innings, though he pitched out of a few jams and benefited from an inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning being overturned on replay (see below). Obviously, the staff ERA of 1.29 is going to go up at some point. But the fact the Braves are more than surviving during this early period of the season despite missing several starters (two lost for the season; three on the disabled list) is significant.

2. BRAVES ARE LIKING REPLAY: The Braves are now 2-0 in replays and they seemed to be living a charmed existence when the Nationals went from a 1-0 lead to a runner in scoring position to bases empty. Manager Fredi Gonzalez won his second challenge of the season, negating Ian Desmond’s inside-the-park homer in the fifth. Desmond’s drive down the left field line got stuck in the padding in foul territory. Justin Upton raised his arms, attempting to signal the umpires that the ball was unplayable. But third base umpire Marvin Hudson did nothing and initially ruled the ball was “live.” By the time Upton went to dislodge the ball, Desmond had scored. Gonzalez challenged the play, saying it should’ve been ruled a dead ball and a ground-rule double. Replay confirmed that. Nationals fans booed as Desmond returned to second. Then it got worse for Washington: Desmond was caught in a rundown.

3. UPTON AND UPTON: The Braves are winning because of their pitching obviously, not their hitting (now .183 as a team). But the Upton brothers are struggling more than anybody. Both went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Friday. For the season, B.J. Upton is 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts. Justin Upton is 1 for 15 with seven strikeouts. So combined, they are 2-for-31 (.065) with 16 strikeouts. When somebody mentioned how impressive the team’s pitching has been, Gonzalez smiled and said, “Yeah. Now we just need to get the hitting going.”

Some recent ramblings, on demand . . .
– Blog: LIVE BLOG: Braves vs. Nationals (Showdown, Part I)
– MyAJC ($): Nationals assumed too much in 2013 — but not now
– Blog: As Freeman powers Braves, Upton still searching for…anything
– MyAJC ($): B.J. Upton is under fire — and he knows it
– Blog: Tiger Woods out and Masters will take a hit
– MyAJC ($): Teheran does his part but Braves lose anyway
– Blog: Short take on Braves’ loss to Milwaukee
– Blog: LIVE: 5 questions going into Braves’ season
– MyAJC ($): Strong opener by Teheran would ease some Braves’ concerns
– MyAJC ($): Injuries means Braves have little margin for error
– MyAJC ($): NCAA needs to take the hint, start paying players
– Blog: Mike Mills’ song pushes Dale Murphy for Hall of Fame
– MyAJC ($): Did Dimitroff lose benefit of doubt after bad season?
– Blog: Dimitroff on Falcons, failure, his draft board and Umenyiora
– Blog: Mercer (Georgia’s shining light) stuns Duke
– MyAJC ($): SEC needs to go to nine-game schedule, eliminate cupcakes
– Blog: SEC needs to expand conference schedule (column preview)
– MyAJC ($): Richt has been tough, even if some haven’t noticed
– Blog: More arrests at UGA, and Herbstreit jumps Richt
– MyAJC ($):Georgia loses but Fox goes down swinging at NCAA
24 comments
TampGator1
TampGator1

CF Cory Rasmus of Toronto is hitting .053 with a lot of strikeouts.  The Blue Jays should bench him an then release him. 

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

Everyone criticizes BJ for the contract but not one person would sit there and say, they'd turn it down or better yet give money back when they didn't perform.  He capitalized on a good deal when Wren panicked.  Scott Boras got the ball rolling when he was looking to get Michael Bourn a $20 million a year deal and Wren started hyperventilating and threw a contract at BJ that he should have offered Bourn.


People who slam BJ conveniently omit that Schafer is an equally awful, if not worse, alternative.  At best, he's a platoon player due to the fact that he couldn't hit LHP even if his bat was the size of a telephone pole.  Doumit isn't a very good fielder, but he can hit and if the situation arose again where you need to sit BJ more because of struggle, this team would be better off moving Heyward to CF (he's a better option than Schafer by a mile) and letting Doumit play RF just for his stick.

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

Who didn't see this coming.....with BJ Upton?

WTH is he in the lineup for....and batting 2nd?

Is this Fredi trying to cover for Wren on signing BJ Upton? He's awful. Doesn't even belong in the major leagues.

SimpleDawg
SimpleDawg

It's the same ol' story with BJ....he should be on the bench. Period. Screw the money. Bench him!


J Up should be on a very short leash. Another week of futility, and he joins his brother on the bench. Sorry, the only reason for him to be in the lineup is offense - he's a liability on defense.


Schafer should be playing. No scoop here. Put Terdo in LF. Use BJ for late inning defense.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

It seems like just last week that we were told of the Upton's progress.  Oh, my bad, it was last week.

Preston Hannitized
Preston Hannitized

It is way too early ... the Braves are 3-1, Uggla looks like he can contribute again, the makeshift pitching staff is doing more than enough. BUT ...

The Uptons are terrible - I have some faith that Justin will figure it out. But BJ is lost.

We have to get some runs or Kimbrell will have to break Smoltz's save record this month. He needs some laughers or Fredi will work him until his arm drops off.

Simmons is wasted in the 8 hole (BJ goes there tonight?)

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

bat b.j  9th , the pitcher 8th , problem solved , the 8 and 9 hitter gets a hit one in a blue moon , put the short stop 2nd , .but this pitching will implode soon trust me .

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

B.J UPTON WILL NOT CARE TILL YEAR4 THEN HIS CONTRACT THE NEXT YEAR WILL BE UP SO THAT IS WHEN YOU WILL SEE THAT IDIOT HIT THE BALL LIKE HANK AARON , OR BABE RUTH RIGHT NOW THE BAT BOY IS BETTER THAN HIM AND WHEN THE BRAVES START LOSING THEN YOU WILL SEE SHAFER IN THERE TRYING TO GET RALLYS STARTED , THE BRAVES NEED TOPLAY SMALL BALL THATS HOW THEY WON YESTERDAY , BESIDES THE ONE ONE GATTIS KNOCKED TO THE WHITE HOUSE LOL.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Great win.. stop the bitching it's just been 4 games?

Go Braves......

RangeRover
RangeRover

Fredi's stupidity will eventually catch up to them.  Not another manager in baseball--at any level--would pencil in an utterly lost, free swinging hack batting in a critical #2 position.  It almost cost them today but Heyward's hustle, coupled with Freeman's and Johnson's great at bat bailed out Bimbo Gonzalez once again.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Great effort today.  I hope that Gattis gets swing back. Being on base with Bossman coming to bat must be very frustrating.  I remember last season when Joe Simpson said, "at least he isn't hitting into double plays."

Archangel
Archangel

cooter,


Little early in the season for those conclusions don't you think?

bigcooterb
bigcooterb

I guess FG has to play the Uptons but he should just bat them 8th and 9th and get their 2 outs out of the way.  I don't know where he could hide them in the field though.  Upton didn't have any problem picking the ball up when he finally decided to do so.  Of course the batter had already circled the bases by then.  I don't think they could play on my Grandson's or Granddaughters little league teams.

87GaDawg
87GaDawg

My admiration for Jason Heyward.  How he gets back in a batter box is beyond me.  I'd have retired after getting my jaw broken like that.

GSU93
GSU93

My guess is that Justin will get it going. BJ, on the other hand, I'm guessing NOT!

87GaDawg
87GaDawg

My admiration for Jason Heyward.  How he gets back in batter box is beyond me.  I'd have retired after getting my jaw broken like that.

countryboyy
countryboyy

pitching is very good maybe the hitting and score more runs will come around  yes Justin  should have played the ball but he did luck out on it  looked to me like a normal  play he should have went and got it instead of holding up his hands  he was playing umpire when he should have played they ball and let them make the call 

TPC
TPC

Justin Upton should have been benched after that no-hustle play. He lucked out. After totally mis-playing the double the inning before, he just gave up on this stuck-under-the-mat ball. I don't know where his head's at, but it was not in the game today. Until his attitude and the attitude of his little-league brother changes, they both need to be warming the bench. I don't care how much money they are making. They both need an attitude adjustment. If they don't want to hustle and play ball, then McDonald's is calling! 

TomGaff
TomGaff

Hell, at least Kate Upton is looking good!!!

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

This team can flat-out pitch, even with all the injuries. Gotta love the clutch work by Avilan and Carpenter.

I think the Upton brothers are feeding off each other, in a bad way. It can't be healthy for your performance to see a family member struggling so mightily right in front of you. For all the talk about B.J.'s problems, Justin has been pretty brutal himself since last April.

Savdon
Savdon

Your first place Atlanta Braves!

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

Not sure why you keep making these comparisons. Rasmus posted a 4.8 WAR last year. He didn't hit .184.

That's the thing: No one's judging B.J. just based on four games. There are plenty of other guys on the team off to slow offensive starts. But what's worrisome about B.J. is that he looks just as lost as he did for the entirety of last year.