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July 28, 2006
  
Upcoming Series: Atlanta Braves Pitchers

Remember when a late July series against the Braves was a big deal? When the specter of going to Atlanta was potentially terrifying? When Chipper Jones was a The Man and the Bravos always unearthed some stud rookie pitcher to shut the Mets down and send them back on their way, embarrassed and disoriented? Well, let’s let this series be a reminder of those days — because all of that could happen starting tonight. Sure, the Braves are twelve games out and five games under .500. And, yeah, they’re also a measly 22-25 at home. But this has all the makings of the most exciting series the Mets are going to play until September rolls around — what with the return of Pedro, a chance to absolutely bury the Braves in the division, and the Trading Deadline literally days away. These next three games go well, and the Mets are looking good. Real good. They go badly, and there’s a solid chance that Lastings Milledge and/or Aaron Heilman never see the inside of a Mets uniform again. Major League Baseball… I Live For This! In tonight’s game, Pedro Martinez (7-4, 3.45) makes his long-awaited return to the rotation against, dare I say, the Braves ace Horacio Ramirez (5-3, 4.04). In Saturday’s matinee, Orlando Hernandez (6-8, 5.40) will look to continue to make his case to stay in the rotation when he opposes the equally unreliable Tim Hudson (8-8, 4.87). And, in Sunday’s finale, Tom Glavine (11-4, 3.69) looks to get off the schnied when he takes on rookie lefthander Chuck James (4-1, 3.53).

Game 1: Horacio Ramirez

What’s the Story? The oft-injured Ramirez has been on the DL twice already this season, both due to hamstring issues, but has pitched relatively well whenever he’s been on the mound. Since June 22nd, he’s allowed only thirteen runs in thirty-five and two-thirds innings — even more surprising when you notice he allowed seven of those runs in a one inning start against the Cubs. Remove that little guy, and he’s given up six runs in thirty-four innings. At least the Leo Mazzone Approach to Hitters still works well in the National League. Ramirez sports two fastballs — a low 90’s two-seamer and a strong cutter. He also throws a nice slider, a decent change, and an average curveball.

Last Year: The Mets saw a lot of Ramirez last season, and it wasn’t pretty for Horacio. Over four starts he allowed fourteen runs off twenty-eight hits in twenty-four innings. Oh, and seven of those twenty-eight hits were homeruns. He also walked five and struck out twelve. And, in case you forgot, David Wright is seven for ten against Ramirez, with four homeruns and a double. That’s good for a batting line of .700/.727/2.000. Just in case you were wondering.

What to Expect: Ramirez is a control pitcher with sub par stuff, so he tends to give up a lot of hits. As I said before Horacio was/is one of Mazzone’s prized disciples, and he still pitches the Mazzone gameplan in every start — working the corners and pounding the bottom half of the strike zone away. As a lefthander, his pitches break in against righties, so they can expect a healthy dose of cutters and changeups to set up the cutter. Though he’s had far more success against lefties than righties over the course of his career, lefthanders have been tagging Ramirez this season. They can expect a lot of sliders and curves, a surprising amount of which will be thrown out of the strike zone. If they can lay off the sliders in the dirt, they can wait on his fastball on the outside part of the plate.

Game 2: Tim Hudson

What’s the Story? For Tim Hudson’s original scouting report, click here.

This Year: Over two starts, Hudson is 1-1 with a 4.11 ERA. He’s allowed seven runs off of twelve hits in fifteen and a third innings. He’s struck out eight and walked four. But let us take a moment to ask what the hell has happened to him? Hudson was the number one starter for the Oakland A’s, the workhorse of the Big Three, and even placed in the top ten in the AL Cy Young voting three times in his five full seasons there. Since coming to the Braves however he’s been injury-prone and battered around on a regular basis. This year he’s averaging a little over six innings a game, and has pitched into the sixth inning exactly once since June 26th. In May he was 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA. In June he was 1-4 with a 4.96 ERA. In July he’s 2-1, but with a whopping 7.56 ERA. Far be it from me to complain about a Braves pitcher’s decline, but what on Earth has become of Tim Hudson?

Game 3: Chuck James

What’s the Story? After an impressive minor league career (25-13, 2.05 over sixty-two starts) James started out the season in the Braves bullpen, making seven appearances before being put on the DL with a strained hamstring. When he returned he was sent down to AAA until late June, when the Braves cut the struggling Mike Remlinger and moved James into their vaunted starting rotation. Since that point James has been a solid fifth starter, going 4-0 in his first four decisions before dropping his first one last week (despite pitching seven innings of two run ball). James is a lefty in the mold of his opponent, Tom Glavine — he throws a high-80’s/low-90’s fastball, a nice changeup and an average slider.

Last Year: This is James’ first start against the New York Mets.

What to Expect: As previously stated, James has been extremely successful throughout his minor league career. In three hundred and forty-three innings he’s allowed two-hundred and twenty-one hits and a mere one hundred and three walks. That’s 324 base runners in 343 minor league innings, folks. James’ success comes from his ability to change speeds on his fastball, as well as mixing in that nasty changeup. Both pitches comprise about ninety percent of his gameplan — a plan that is pretty similar to Ramirez’s. He’ll pound the bottom half of the strike zone, especially away, though he’ll occasionally climb the ladder against righthanders. His changeup is thrown more to righthanders than lefties, while he relies more on his slider to get lefties swinging. James is an extreme flyball pitcher, which has led to a surprisingly high homerun total (seven in his first five starts). Hitters will need to swing their way on against him — which tends to get easier as the game wears on.

Overall:

This is one of the biggest series the Mets have had in quite some time, so it’s easy to get amped up about it. The Braves were coming on strong a couple weeks ago, but they’ve cooled off some — especially with injuries to both Chipper and Andruw Jones. The Braves will be apparently back to full strength in this series though, coincidentally coinciding with the Mets being back at full strength, so what the hell… they might as well rumble.

Pedro’s start can either go really well, or really badly, but I’m not planning on seeing any middle ground. With Ramirez being an average pitcher against the Mets over the course of his career, I say they’ll take this one. I like Hudson over Duque in the second game, for the simple fact that the Mets are the only team Tim Hudson’s pitched like, well, Tim Hudson, against. For some reason, I think the Braves are the team Glavine will turn it around against — the only problem being that Chuck James is opposing him. James will be a tough pitcher for the Mets, a soft-tossing, control rookie. This series can really go either way — and it all depends on who pitches better in Game 3. I’m going to say the Mets drop it, because we’ve all been burned by too many trips down to Georgia in our lifetimes. I think the Mets are the better team, but Atlanta’s got the better matchups in this series — so I’ll let the Mets prove to me they can exorcise their demons before I start banking on them to do it themselves.

2-1, Braves.


13 Responses to “Upcoming Series: Atlanta Braves Pitchers”

  1. Comment posted by Tim in LA on July 28, 2006 at 12:50 am (#63711)

    Great article, as always. I think we rock Hudson, take two of three.

  2. Comment posted by Jose Reyes, RBI Machine on July 28, 2006 at 1:17 am (#63716)

    If his opinions are wildly inappropriate and out of line, feel free to tell him so

    I’ll let the Mets prove to me they can exorcise their demons before I start banking on them to do it themselves.

    2-1, Braves.

    Sir, inappropriate.

  3. Comment posted by zubin in ga on July 28, 2006 at 2:14 am (#63720)

    These two teams have strinkingly similar offensive statistics:

    Runs Scored:
    Mets - 539 (1st in NL)
    Cowards - 535 (2nd)

    OBP:
    Cowards - .338 (5th)
    Mets - .332 (10th)

    Slugging:
    Cowards - .456 (1st)
    Mets - .452 (2nd)

    OPS:
    Cowards - .795 (2nd, Reds 1st)
    Mets - .784 (3rd)

    OPS vs. RHP:
    Cowards - .806 (1st)
    Mets - .793 (2nd)

    OPS vs. LHP:
    Mets - .755 (11th)
    Cowards - .755 (11th)

    Cowards Home OPS: .803
    Mets Away OPS: .807

    Yeah, you had no idea that the Cowards had a good offense, did ya? Neither did I until I looked it up…

    Additionally, all of the games except for the first have very comparablr pitching matchups, El Duque and Hudson are very similar, and everyone down here is annointing Chuck James as the next…Tom Glavine. Mets win first, second, and maybe even third. I’m not optimistic about the finale, but James is an extreme flyball pitcher (I mean EXTREME, like the skateboarders in Harold and Kumar EXTREME, like 24.2% groundballs extreme) and the Mets can hit lots of homeruns…and his FIP and xFIP are 5.61 and 5.48 respectively…

    And by the way, why no middle ground for Pedro’s start? I could easily see something like 6ip 6h 2bb 3er 5k, which certainly would be middle ground

  4. Comment posted by Mike on July 28, 2006 at 7:10 am (#63730)

    what on Earth has become of Tim Hudson?

    He left the Oakland Mauseleum.

    This series has mind-boggling offense potential. Pedro’s the only pitcher I give a chance in hell to. I think the Mets win a traditional game tonight, like 5-2 or something. But games 2 & 3 could be 11-8 extravaganzas.

    I’m firmly in favor of TommyStrikezone missing a start or two, and I fear that Sunday will do little to assuage me.

    Braves all over the Mets that game, with little chnace of the Met O able to come up with all the runs they’ll need.

    And the middle game. I’m giving the field goal, and playing Mets 12, Braves 8.

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  6. Comment posted by Wdwrkr35 on July 28, 2006 at 8:24 am (#63732)

    This series depends on the Mets bats, If they hit we can sweep. Hope David Wright snaps out of it soon.

  7. Comment posted by Danny on July 28, 2006 at 9:33 am (#63735)

    I always get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach when the Mets go to Atlanta. They just always find ways to lose winnable games there. The Braves always seem to do the little things to win, and the Mets always seem to play bad baseball in key spots. I can’t shake the feeling that the Mets lose 2 out of 3 in this series.

    In Game 1, I expect Pedro to be a little off with his command. All the bullpen sessions in the world can’t get you ready to face live hitting, especially since he will be a little jazzed up. But then again he is Pedro. I will be interested to see what kind of velocity Pedro has. I think the Braves take game 1. I like the Mets to take one of the games between Hudson and Smith. I would easily say the Hudson game, but as mentioned, Hudson never struggles against Mets, even while he is stinking up the joint against everybody else.

    If the Mets do sweep, I hope it permanently wipes that self-satisifed smirk off of Andruw Jones’ face. It’s the longest shot of all, but what do we have without hope?

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  9. Comment posted by Bryan in Albany on July 28, 2006 at 11:00 am (#63745)

    It’s the longest shot of all, but what do we have without hope?

    The Devil Rays?

  10. Comment posted by joemetsfan on July 28, 2006 at 1:21 pm (#63762)

    He left the Oakland Mauseleum

    Yeah, it’s a pitcher’s park, but if that was all there was to it he would have gotten rocked on the road. And he didn’t. Odd that the Conventional Wisdom is that NL pitchers get shelled when they move to the AL, yet here we have the reverse.

    Even if we just get 1 of these 3, we leave Atlanta with an 11 game lead and a magic number under 50. Braves must sweep to make this “race” at all interesting.

  11. Comment posted by dancran on July 28, 2006 at 1:35 pm (#63764)

    exactly. try and win as many as possible but even if they go 1-2, big deal..its still playing a major league team on the road, which is never so easy

    however, they CAN win at least 2…we shall see..i hope pedro is good tonight, they need that

  12. Comment posted by Randy on July 28, 2006 at 2:59 pm (#63777)

    2-1 Mets for the series, but I think they lose tonight’s game. Forgive me for not having much faith in Pedro “I hope the Red Sox beat the Mets in the World Series” Martinez.

  13. Comment posted by lennyISnails on July 28, 2006 at 3:56 pm (#63790)

    Looking at the matchups, I see roughly the same outcomes. I say Pedro brings us back hope tonight, and El Duque/Glavine quickly give it back away. Plus, the rookie soft tosser absolutely kills us.

    Off topic, does anyone know which game the 86 Mets are all going to be back at Shea (minus McDowell)?

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  15. Comment posted by dptydwg420 on July 28, 2006 at 4:46 pm (#63810)

    Forgive me for not having much faith in Pedro “I hope the Red Sox beat the Mets in the World Series” Martinez.

    Now that was some funny s**t Randy :)

  16. Comment posted by Emad on July 30, 2006 at 7:45 pm (#64587)

    I’m going to say the Mets drop it, because we’ve all been burned by too many trips down to Georgia in our lifetimes.

    I can picture Andrew, somewhere, doing the Mepos Dance of Joy.

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