On the bright side, the Braves get to face Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg gets a second-inning thumb. (AP photo)

Stephen Strasburg gets a second-inning thumb. (AP photo)

Stephen Strasburg gets a second-inning thumb at Turner Field. (AP photo)

If you’ve lost eight in a row to fall 4 1/2 games out of first place in your division and 3 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot and you’re about to begin a 10-game homestand over which you’ll meet three of the six division leaders … well, you take your positive signs where you can find them. Here are the only two I see:

1. The Atlanta Braves won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw next week.

2. They do get to face Stephen Strasburg tonight.

Of all the big-name pitchers the Braves see regularly in the National League East — that’s a list that includes Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Jose Fernandez (now injured) and Matt Harvey (ditto) — they do best against Strasburg. He’s 3-5 against them, with all three victories coming in 2012, his shut-down-in-September season. His ERA against the Braves is 4.04; his WHIP (walks/hits per inning) is 1.406. The Braves, who haven’t hit much for average lately, have hit .270 with six home runs in 14 games against Strasburg.

In six starts at Turner Field, Strasburg’s ERA is 5.79. Dating back to June 30, 2012, his past four starts here have gone thusly: Exited after three innings due to the heat (the temperature was 106 degrees); exited after six innings with forearm tightness; exited after two innings with a strained oblique and, on the most bizarre night of his bizarre career, was ejected in the second inning after hitting Justin Upton with a pitch and twice throwing behind Andrelton Simmons. (Strasburg blamed his lack of command on the cold; it was 66 degrees that night.)

There are some in baseball who believe Strasburg isn’t strong-willed enough to be a true No. 1 starter. His experiences in Atlanta and his lack of success against the Braves have gone a ways toward furthering that belief. Something always seems to happen to Strasburg when he pitches here — it’s too hot or it’s too cold or he gets hurt — and any pitcher who works in the NL East will have to figure out a way to win at Turner Field.

His only victory in Atlanta came May 26, 2012, on a day when he couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead and when the Nationals scored the go-ahead runs after he’d thrown his final pitch. The Braves, who tend to swing and miss, actually make Strasburg work: He threw 95 pitches in five innings that day and 67 in three innings when next they saw him (in the 106-degree heat). In his two starts against them this season, he needed 96 pitches to last 4 1/3 innings and 107 to make it through six.

Let’s face it: At the moment, the Braves have nothing going for them. They’ll need much help if they’re to right a season going wrong. We’ll see tonight if the famous Strasburg is again willing to lend a hand.

Reader Comments 0

38 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

 Baseball is a very funny game. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

Hilarious. Of all the things the Nationals can't seem to do --- beat the Braves.


Of course, now, if the Nationals pick up a couple in the top of the 9th and win, that could be the bitter end of the Atlanta Braves for 2014.

DAWGnGA
DAWGnGA

Could Fredi have given Freeman a day off here?  He could have used it Two in a row would have done him good.  


FRUSTRATING!!!!!!

DAWGnGA
DAWGnGA

The poll concerning who is to blame for the team showing.  Look at the line-up again.  It makes no sense.


I submit the blame lies 45% with Fredi, for making line-ups like todaysand the handleing of players he has.  40% with Wren signing players like BJ and others.  He also has constructed an all or nothing team with little to no speed.  15% to the players because there isnt a leader on the team to step up and they aren't performing 

PeteScott
PeteScott

At this point the Braves could face ME.................and lose.

They have turned into the laughing stock of MLB.

Today.........Dan Uggla would look like a SuperStar on their pathetic lineup.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

The odds say they can beat Strasburg, but Fredi is trying to even the odds, having the right handed .211 hitting BJ bat leadoff,  instead of a left handed .280 hitting Bonofacio.


DAWGnGA
DAWGnGA

Prime example as to what is wrong with this team.  Look at the line-up, what idiot would have BJ playing CF and leading off?   AGAIN!!!!

Joemac48
Joemac48

I said right here on this forum way back in April that the Braves were not a playoff caliber team and I got blasted for it. Well, what do you people have to say now? Frank Wren, the architect of this train wreck has got to go, along with several of the so called starters, led by the Upton brothers. Both are very overrated. Then Jason needs to be moved to center. His bat not withstanding, Gattis is a poor catcher (check his stats),  and needs to go to the American League so he can be a DH and part time catcher. Bethencourt is a superior catcher, and a good hitter, and I really do not think Gattis is a left fielder. Maybe he could make a Joe Torre transition and learn to play 3rd base, because they need one of those too. Freeman, LaStella, Simmons, Heyward need to stay. Everyone else needs to go in a housecleaning that includes the GM and manager

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

@Joemac48  Why do you claim Bethencourt is a "good hitter"?  He is clearly NOT.  He might fit right in w/ some of the other low contact, no hit wonders in the lineup. Dumping the bat of Gattis from this team to add the weak hitting of CBet would further weaken one of the NL's worst offenses. Bethencourt is destined to be, at best, a typical no-hit backup in his career.  If no power with weak contact is what you want from the catching position, then CBet  might be your guy, but he's not my choice.  I do find your comment about the "Joe Torre transition" to third base an interesting suggestion.  I think the Braves will attempt to coach him up to play LF.  He'll need a lot of work out there because he is a butcher  in left.  Try to find him a spot in the lineup because they desperately need his bat(if his back issues cooperate).

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

The way Strasburg has pitched in Atlanta during his career, tonight could be the night the losing streak ends.  However, this team is about as cohesive as worn out Velcro and as poorly as they have looked and played since the All Star break, this could also very well be the night that Strasburg pitches a 3 hit shutout. 

Jack5150
Jack5150

We HAVE to win this weekend

ComaToes
ComaToes

@Jack5150 Why?  Won't make much difference really even if the Braves sweep. They will still be 1.5 out even with winning all 3 games.  Then they have that brutal stretch that's worse than playing the Gnats. Don't see where it really matters what the Braves do against them this weekend. They have manhandled them already this year and look who's in first.

candlin14
candlin14

I can see ATL fans calling for FG, BJ, and Wrens Job but I don't how you can hate on J Upton and Freeman like all of you do. Those two are solid hitters and they can't do everything.


This team is awful but most of all our Management is pitiful. Wren and FG have to go. If you truly want them to go, QUIT GOING TO THE GAMES!!!! ALSO, our sports writers ie, JEFF SCHULTZ needs to start asking some tougher questions to these two IDIOTS... CMON MAN, if this was New York, LA, Boston, or Chicago Wren and FG would have been playing tummy sticks with each other by now with no jobs...

BobLeeSwagger
BobLeeSwagger

 The BRAVES are just BAD right now.............

ComaToes
ComaToes

@JohnnyMKnight Not just "right now".  Look at their monthly records for the season. Bad all year except April.

Mr Peabody
Mr Peabody

The way baseball is constructed right now you never know. It's all about momentum at seasons end and that carrying into the playoffs. We've seen it time and time again with the Giants. Cards, and even the Marlins. I'm not betting on that after an 0-8 stretch. Need a successful batting line up instead of every other hitter.

mgunter
mgunter

Braves have not been a very good ball club this year. Way to prone to strike out. We need more line drive hitters like LaStella. Th Uptons , Johnson and even Freeman are all whiffing way to much. Gona have to start over next year and build a new team. If Wren signs J Upton to a long term deal he has lost his mind.

Falcons2013
Falcons2013

The Braves are the wobbly boxer taking a standing 8 count (in their case and 0-8 count). This weekend is the knock out punch!!!

Techmate
Techmate

Yes, if they lose 2 out of 3 to the Nats this weekend, I say it's time for a fire sale to see if they can get some good young talent for the next few years. I like Fredi but I don't think he inspires his players. Even with Beachy, Medlin, Venters and Gavin Floyd, the problem for this club for a long time has been hitting, good base running and excellent offensive tactics. For a pitcher not to be able to lay down a bunt - shameful at this level.

This team has little fire in their belly and BJ Upton is a prime example. Got the fat contract and then got the fat ego to go with it. What a real disappointment.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Fan pessimism is understandable given the level of Braves play since April, but at 4-1/2 games back the Braves are IN the pennant race. How they fare this season is still largely up to them.


What the Braves need is a huge dose of self-assessment time. I'd make each of the hitters watch themselves over-and-over for an hour a day until they get disgusted enough to make some adjustments in their approach at the plate. This would especially apply to BJ and Andrelton, but also the regular double-play and strikeout machines up and down the lineup. And BJ wouldn't be training on his own over the winter, he'd be reporting to work every day.

cspecial
cspecial

its hard to believe that freddi gonzalez is still the manager of this team.shows you how much commitments to winning the organization and city has.i remember when mike woodson of the hawks were winning 50 games, everyone was calling for his head but despite obvious incompetence on gonzalez part plus weak managing and losing, everyone trying to cover up for him.he is the main problem with the braves not the players nor frank wren.gonzalez plays players according to who they are not because they are producing.look how long he tolerated dan uggla who quit on him after he got the big contract.he had players who was producing but instead of going with them, he put players like evan gattis back into the lineup and the losing started as I predicted.i guess gonzalez and the announcers, who is the worst in the league want losing.Don Sutton comes alive when the braves are losing.when they are winning, you can"t tell hes on the telescast. overall, get rid of incompetent people and bring in people who wants to win championships and you will see a change in attitude and winning for the braves

redleg24
redleg24

Braves just not good enough to contend this year or the next 2-3 years.  The will make a showing and then fade after the all star break.  Just not enough true hitters and pitching (starters) is weak.  Need some real power arms on the starting staff.  Scouts for the braves suck as does the GM.  Hard to trade when you have nothing any other team wants.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Chip Carey, as the Braves were down 3-5 to the Mariners, with Freddie Freeman getting a single to be on base with 1 out. "If Even hits a homer we're back in this thing."  


Evan hits into a 5-4-3 double play, inning over.


This reflects why the Braves are losers: 1. The homerun is expected to always save the day. 2. The Braves that can actually hit the ball no longer hit with power. 3. Most Braves cannot actually hit the ball on a regular basis. 4. When a Brave does actually hit a homer there is no one on base.


It does not matter who pitches against the Braves.  As long as the ball does not bounce in the grass on its way to the catcher, they will close their eyes and swing.  If I were running a team in a pennant race and my pitching staff was in need of rest before facing the Braves, I would call up minor league starters (A ball)  to pitch complete game shutouts against the Braves.


I never go to a real game, but I have a hard time believing they still have batting practice.  They have to be missing those balls too.  What's the point?

Birdhair
Birdhair

Braves will 2 of 3 and Mark Bradley will say that we're world series contenders.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I don't think there is ANY pitcher that makes the Braves hitters look good any more! But the good news is - Frank Wren has locked them all up for years to stay on the Braves roster. Way to go Frank!

mdet
mdet

We need to bring Uggla back, he kills Strasburg!


Ha, just kidding. But Strasburg is the only pitcher he can hit.

DAWGnGA
DAWGnGA

@MarkBradley

Do you honestly feel this team has a chance this year or next  the way they are constructed?  Not only the players and coaches but the team chemistry?  Things just don't seem right.  

DAWGnGA
DAWGnGA

I  predicted a 11-17 stretch 8 games ago, looking good on that prediction.  Actually now it may be closer to 7-21 and done for the season!

DAWGnGA
DAWGnGA

I wouldn't be surprised if the Braves win 2 of 3 from the Nats.  Everyone will jump back on the bandwagon and be all rah rah.  I also wouldn't be surprised if they lose 5 of the next 7 between Dodgers and A's.  


Maybe then they will run some guys through the waiver wire.  Angels and a few others need pitching. Harang /  Santana will not be back next year, so get  something now!  Could get lucky with Laird and a couple others being claimed. Stock the minors with position players.  Back-up catchers are a need and at this point we have no real need for one.  Betancourt sits at AAA.  Maybe when they start falling out of contention, they will dump Doumit who doesn't hit any better than BJ and only slightly better than Schafer did.  Dump the dead weight and salary.

Williethepimp
Williethepimp

@southgabrave The Braves are primed to be had with their upcoming schedule. What little fight they have left in them right now will be gone in 3 weeks. They simply just do not have the talent. Everybody knows that. 

Williethepimp
Williethepimp

I hope Strasburg is reading that headline. Brilliant psychological ploy. Strengthens my prediction of 25 straight losses.

Pat_Pending
Pat_Pending

I agree on Strasburg, MB. He personifies the Nats. Look at them ... Werth, Harper, Zimmerman, even LaRoche, they strut around as if they all have rings.

The GM is all swag.

This weekend - the pressure is all on the Nats.

CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith
CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith

Tongue firmly in cheek.  Tonite may be blind squirrel nite for the Braves...don't bet on it.

One thing is sue  the Braves won't get my beer/hotdog/Cracker Jack $$$ tonight. Hope that stranger in whose pocket I put the tix appreciates them.  Or he could sell them to an unsuspecting yahoo.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

"figure out a way to win at Turner Field"....HAAAAHAA These days all you need to do is get off the team bus. Wren will be telling Fredo (as Mikey did) who to put on his lineup card. Fredo will be giving out hugs and flowery comments to his guys as they whiff their way thru another weekend.

DrPhill
DrPhill

This is not the same team that manhandled the Nationals before the spread of the "Upton Virus" that turns decent players into zombies and bat-smashing whackos.

JackClemens
JackClemens

The Braves are toast this season. It happens.