To be quite frank, Jose Fernandez owns the Atlanta Braves. Over his last 28 innings against the number one team in the NL East he has only surrendered one earned run and has stymied hitters with his devastating slider. He was filthy once again in the Miami Marlins 9-0 victory at home on Tuesday night, as he threw eight innings of two-hit shutout ball. He even fooled Tyler Pastornicky who got the start at second base with a nice pump fake and toss to home plate off of a Ramiro Pena ground ball. Coming into the game the Braves had only allowed 58 runs in 24 games. They are now 17-8 in the new campaign and 2.5 games ahead of the second place New York Mets.
Before the game on Monday night in Miami the Braves alerted David Hale that he would be in the bullpen for the game that signified Mike Minor is ready to make his return to the big league ball club. The 26-year old southpaw will take to the hill against the Giants, whom he has a career 2-0 record in four career starts to go along with a 2.92 ERA and 28 strikeouts in just 24.2 innings.
For the Braves to be nine games over .500 at this point is truly remarkable when considering the players they lost in the Spring Training. While Alex Wood drove the starting pitching staff's ERA up a good bit in allowing seven earned runs to the Marlins, it also marked just the second time all season long the starting rotation had given up four or more earned runs in a single game. Pitching is the key ingredient to a winning formula in Atlanta, as it always has been.
To combat one of the best pitchers in baseball Fredi Gonzalez deployed a lefty strong lineup and while it cut down on total amount of strikeouts from their last time facing one another the Cuban born flamethrower had his way with the Braves lineup. Neither the bats nor pitches from the Braves were very sharp in this one. Also the bunt strategy has seemed to be one that has completely blown up on the team this year as well.
The Braves have only lost one series so far this season, but the Marlins could clinch the series tonight with a win. However, to do so they will have to get to one of the best pitchers in baseball so far this season: Aaron Harang. A guy who went from not having a team to play for in the offseason at one point to a NL Cy Young early season candidate is incredible. He will enter the contest with the MLB lead in ERA with a 0.85.
Despite an 8.10 ERA through his first 11 outings Luis Avilan is still considered to be the Braves go-to left handed arm in the bullpen for right now. Last season he finished seventh in all of baseball for best ERA by a reliever, but has been hit hard and been wild at times in 2014. At some point this season the Braves could have a choice from using Avilan, rookie Ian Thomas, and they hope Johnny Venters who is currently on the 60-Day DL and working his way back from TJ surgery.
The first month of the season for the Braves has been a rather nice and friendly one to the team, as they have compiled the second most wins in baseball and have put forth pitching numbers you would want to scratch your eyes at. The biggest winner of the month in my opinion would be Julio Teheran who has indeed emerged as a solidified ace for the starting pitching staff.
He is now 4-1 on the season with a 1.59 ERA and is perhaps the frontrunner to win the NL Cy Young award after a month of play. The kid, just 21-years old is something special.
Not a surprise that the two top teams in all of baseball are the two teams with the best ERAs as well: Braves (2.32) and Brewers (2.59). Both of the two teams have relied on their strong cores and it helps that Francisco Rodriguez , "K-Rod", is so far the best closer in the league.
Manny Machado will return today to the Baltimore Orioles that just saw Chris Davis go to the DL The flashy gold glove third baseman was first in all of the Majors with 51 doubles and looks to continue his good numbers at the plate this season.
In is return back to Yankee Stadium the fans booed Robinson Cano profusely. Up to this point the All-Star second baseman only has one home run and is projected for under 20 this season.
Michael Pineda, the same guy who tried to hide pine tar on his neck and was caught, is out for three to four weeks of action with teres muscle strain. It is a grade one sprain, meaning it is the least serious. j