So that was pretty awful. Its important to not draw too many conclusions off of one bad series, and so I held off from making this - my first post - until that loss had had time to simmer. A couple of thoughts
First: We match up terribly with the Rockies, and Bobby made it worse.
Remember when Colorado signed Mike Hampton to a huge deal because they figured that, as a sinker baller, he could keep the ball down in Coors Field? Remember how that went? Hampton and Denny Neagle were two massively costly mistakes that made it pretty clear that keeping the ball down is a recipe for futility in Coors Field. What succeeds in Coors is high heat, which is what most of their top pitchers in their recent golden age throw in spades.
Unfortunately (at least against Arizona and Colorado), the Braves have a serious team commitment to keeping the ball down. Hudson and Lowe rank 1st and 4th amongst major league starters in ground ball rate. Jonny Venters’ killer pitch is a power sinker. Jurjjens throws a power sinking fastball. O’Flaherty and Moylan keep it down. Basically, our team is about as suboptimal for pitching in Coors field as its possible to be.
Now I can hardly hold it against Frank Wren for designing a team that keeps the ball on the ground, nor can I fault him for not considering Coors field in any of his personnel decisions. Where there is some fault - Go Figure - is with Bobby. It was very easy to predict failure with a lot of his moves.
Going into this weekend, Tim Hudson had given up 13 ER in 15 IP in Coors in his career. It isn’t really the hitters though, since in Atlanta he had given up 3 ER in 21 IP. Reason: Sinker doesn’t sink.
Lowe has pitched 48.1 innings in Coors, giving up 34 ER. He has pitched against them for 54.1 innings elsewhere, giving up 16 ER. Reason: Sinker wont sink.
Jurjjens, going into yesterday at least, were an outlier, as he went 20.2 IP in Colorado, giving up 6 ER, and 21 IP/8 ER in Atlanta. After yesterday his numbers play out more according to form.
So basically, you take 3 players with a roughly 3.4 combined ERA in their careers outside of Coors field, and in 74 innings they had given up 53 runs, good for an ERA of 6.45 (this number doesn’t include this series). Now its hard for Bobby to anticipate seeing these three pitchers matched up in Colorado in April, but he could have perhaps used the off day last week to maneuver the pitching staff a bit for this series.
Additionally, Bobby could have bailed on these players, all of whom were set up to fail, as soon as they got into trouble. We might have won then yesterday.
More egregiously, Bobby keeps on, zombielike, putting his sinker ball relievers in a position to fail. Moylan, O’Flaherty, and Venters were pitching to a combined ERA of roughly 2.1 going into this series. They gave up 6 runs in 4.1 IP.
I’ll refrain from bashing on Bobby because he has given me a lot of good teams and is about to retire, but I hope our next manager keeps these things in mind.
One final thought: The Braves just finished their second toughest (@ PHI late) series remaining. While this was happening the Phillies were playing the Astros @ Phi. If you were told the Braves would have the EXTENDED the lead that they had when it began, you would have taken it. Well, the Braves did just that, and Philly has blown the best chance they will have to surge ahead. Its our just desserts for playing .700 baseball for a month and losing ground.