Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Going to see Smoltz v. Pedro, Part Deux tonight

Five thoughts before the game:

1. I'm very interested to see how Smoltz is pitching now. He's tailed off a little over his past several starts, with shorter endurance and more propensity to allow hits and runs. Right now, the Braves are a slightly less than 50% proposition against any non-NL West playoff opponent because of the lack of depth in the bullpen. (Come to think of it, I'd feel pretty confident in an NLCS against any of the opponents in the East other than the Marlins.) If Smoltz isn't pitching well when October rolls around, then their odds slide even further. I'll pay attention to his velocity and command as the game goes on.

2. Chipper Jones is to Mets fans as _______ is/are to Braves fans? Who is our bete noire? Ben Sheets? Mike Redmond? Opposing pitchers making their first career starts?

3. The Braves have been totally ineffectual against Pedro so far this season, despite having two games to take cracks at him. Is there any reason to think that tonight will be different? Will experience against him help the team tonight, as it did last year against Kris Benson? Is Pedro tiring at the end of the year, just like Smoltz appears to be?

4. One encouraging thought about the team is that John Thomson has made two solid starts in a row. If he's healthy and pitching well, then all of a sudden, I like this team a lot more because they can move Sosa from the starting rotation to the bullpen to act as the third reliable option behind Farnsworth and Boyer. And speaking of which, Kyle Davies has been pretty solid in a couple long relief outings in recent weeks, so he could play a constructive role in the Braves' pen in October. If we keep Dan Doodie or Jim Brower on the post-season roster in place of Davies, then I might...write a very stern letter to Bobby Cox expressing my displeasure at that decision.

5. The Braves' six-game lead in the N.L. East is nice. Ideally, the team will be pushed by someone in the division so they don't coast to the finish, a problem for the team (and conversely, the major advantage for wild card teams) over the past several years, but at this stage, I don't really see this Braves team as a major threat to win the World Series, so preserving the streak of winning divisional titles seems very important to me. That said, I don't know how I would feel about being eliminated for the fourth straight year in the first round, although there would be no dishonor in losing to a team fronting Clemens-Oswalt-Pettite as its playoff rotation.


Malone said...

If not the Braves winning the World Series, then who?

I think they have just as good a shot as anybody. St. Louis has been fattening up on the Central and is officially in "coast" mode.

And remember, the Cardinals are OLD. The Braves have a little fire in their belly this year because of the YOUTH.

Malone said...

Also, I think Tech's win over Auburn is much more impressive than UGA's win over a WAC team that based solely on last year's "reputation."

peacedog said...

1) Smoltz has had 226 innings pitched the last three years. He's got 202 this year alone, and should surpass 226. There's no way that's an ideal situation. He has to be fatigued.

2) Opposing pitchers making their first career starts. Only Chipper may not be quite as good.

3) No, No, No. Alas. Or maybe he is, I haven't really looked into his past 5 starts.

4) I don't like Sosa in the pen. Also, we need 4 starters to have long term success in the playoffs I think. Our best teams always employed 4 (with the 4th being optional, but we usually got in a position to use him).

5) No shot in october. As the Diamond Cutter (aka Dave Grant) notes, we're probably doomed agains any pitcher with a good breaking ball/curve ball. Not that the bullpen (and possibly rotation, pending Smoltz' finish) is in a position to make our offense (or potential lack thereof) an issue.

We are looking primed for some more divisional titles though. Chipper to first next offseason? Maybe. Jarred Saltamacchia will catch again enxt season, but the Braves made it known that they like diversity and might try him at other positions as he climbs higher into the ranks (read: if McCann pans out, he's our new first baseman). I remind you that JS is a switch hitter, and putting up fantastic numbers this year in a pitchers park.

But Lerew, James, Davies, and Marte are all probably ont he verge of contributing for a season+ (or are ready, in some cases). Thorman actually turned around a slow start - so he may be in the mix at some point. James Jurries had another decent season but I reckon he's insurance/trade bait.

Combine that with all the youngsters now, and it feels kind of nice. In a pinch Giles over Furcal. That is all.

peacedog said...

Yough doesn't mean shit against a superior pitching staff/superior offense. The Cardinals' age won't negatively impact their playoff chances.

Oh, and by your logic Tech's win was over an Auburn team thatis(well, was) ranked based soley on last year's reputation. Winning on the road, especially at a place like Auburn, is generally pretty impressive. But you can no more judge Auburn at this point than you can Boise. Really.