Deese guys ain't too bad.
The Braves have crawled back to 16-16 on the strength of a 5-1 stretch against the Marlins, Phillies, and Mets. After the last few years of dismal pitching, it's quite the treat to know that chances are better than 50/50 that Atlanta is going to get a quality start when a starter goes to the hill. When is the last time that we could say that? And if this team can stay in the picture until August and then insert Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson into the rotation?
I'm probably about five years behind the time in using "Three True Outcomes" as a measure for a baseball team and Peacedog will let me know the error of my ways in the comments, but the Braves look good in all three departments relative to their opponents:
Braves - 26
Opponents - 22
Braves - 129
Opponents - 109
Strikeouts by pitchers:
Braves - 247
Opponents - 193
When's the last time that the Braves had a K/BB ratio of better than 2/1? OK, I just looked and it was 2007. Not that impressive. Maybe I'm getting carried away by competent pitching for 32 games. The Braves' pitchers are first in the NL in fewest homers allowed, second in the NL in strikeouts, and fourth in fewest walks allowed. As for the defense, it is 8th in park-adjusted defensive efficiency, so this isn't a Tampa scenario where a better defense is causing spill-over effects on the staff. This is just better pitching.
As for the offense, it's middle-of-the-pack, which isn't the end of the world in light of the facts that Brian McCann has been out for long stretches and Kelly Johnson has performed below his ability. The outfield looks about like the disaster that we anticipated. Jeff Francoeur's OBP is on the wrong side of .300, Jordan Schaefer is striking at a mammoth pace (although he's 22 and we're going to cut him a lot of slack because, unlike Francoeur, he's patient), and the knife is fully sticking out of Garret Anderson's back, save for the big hit he had in the seventh against the Phillies on Sunday. The infield is good, bolstered by an excellent first 20% of the season from Casey Kotchman.
Speaking of the bats, no Brave has more than three homers right now. The lineup is balanced, but are we trying some sort of homage to the deadball era by having a team without a hitter getting to 20 homers for the season? This team certainly isn't honoring 1980s NL baseball because the team leader in the stolen base department has...one steal. That's all? One g-ddamned steal?