Ever since the beginning of last week, there is only one word for the Braves. Pathetic. The ever-proud pitching staffs were far from dominating, the hitting was as bad as it gets.
There was no timely hitting even though the power has been improving since the Braves procured Adam LaRoche, but they were hardly hitting for hits while in the beginning of the second half they were hitting gaps and getting hits all over the place.
Chipper was not clutching and McCann was terrible. Most guys in the lineup were unable to either hit mistakes or earn difficult hits. There are just simply too few hits in a game for the Braves to make any kind of production.
Even the Monday games, they scored more runs than their hits. That means Arizona lost the game, the Braves did not win it. The Braves need to perform better this week or they don't even have a chance to compete for the wildcard.
The Braves’ up and coming schedule is really important as well. The Marlins series is the decisive series for the wildcard push. The Phillies series next weekend is the last hope for the Braves’ division winning opportunity.
The Braves will use Vazquez, Hanson, and Lowe in Marlins’ series and they are their best three starters since all start and possibly the best trio in MLB since the break. I think they had only four losses in total since the break, and the Braves will miss Josh Johnson, which is fortunate enough.
However, if they hit like last weekend against the Phillies, no matter how good match up is the rotation, they are unlikely to win. The Marlins seems to hit everyone recently and they are extremely dangerous.
Then there is a break against the Padres, using JJ, KK, and Vazquez should be good enough to sweep the struggling club, but Lowe got hit so bad in Citi field, unlucky or not, there is no reason to say the Padres will not do the same.
And then it is the final hope for the division title, providing the Phillies can lose some games this week. KK won’t start, but the Braves cannot use Vazquez. Still, based on the track record, JJ is pretty good against the Phillies as well. The Braves should miss Happ but get to see Lee for the first time and it should be Hanson vs Lee.
No matter what, the Braves have to hit better, otherwise it is another loss for Hanson and it will not only hurt the playoff chances, but also seriously hurt Tommy’s chance to win ROY.
They had a good idea to work the count but somehow they cannot do anything to opposing pitcher’s strikes. One game is fine but several games later, it is too much. The Braves are getting single digit hits and the production is really not high. The only reason I can think of is that their swing is too long against those strikes.
The opposing pitcher is bound to give up a few mistakes but the Braves' lineup is not powerful enough to hit them out of park consistently. If that is the case, they should shorten the swing and trying to get hits. They had couple of homers but they really need to have more hits to follow up and not giving opponents any breathing room.
The Braves really have to get the job done or they can say bye-bye to 2009 playoffs.