Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Braves entering tough six-week stretch

As a long time Atlanta Braves fan, it is gratifying to see that they have rebounded nicely from last year's losing record. Last year was the first time in 14 years that the Braves did not win their division. It was odd not seeing them in the playoffs, but they appear to have it back in gear this year.

The next month and a half will go a long way toward deciding whether the Braves are a legitimate threat to win the National League Eastern Division or if they will fall back into the race for a wild card berth. Starting with last weekend's series at Boston, the Braves are now in the most challenging stretch of their schedule. Here are the teams/series they will play during this stretch: at Boston, vs. New York Mets, vs. Philadelphia, at Milwaukee, at Chicago Cubs, vs. Florida, vs. Chicago Cubs, at Minnesota, at Cleveland, vs. Boston, and vs. Detroit.

That is quite a stretch. I can't imagine a team playing a tougher interleague schedule. Check out the last four series. They play the Twins, Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. That is as tough as it gets.

The team's biggest weakness right now is the back half of the starting rotation. Chuck James and Kyle Davies have been wildly inconsistent. James (4-4 record, 4.13 ERA) had a strong outing against Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago so hopefully he is turning it around. Davies (2-2, 4.47) also has struggled even though he had a solid outing against the Mets on Tuesday.

Because of the many off days early in the season, the Braves have not really needed a fifth starter. However, as the season gets rolling, they really need somebody to step up. Mark Redmond (0-4, 11.63) failed in that role in April and was released on Tuesday. Anthony Lerew (0-2, 7.71) got the next chance but has since landed on the disabled list. If nobody emerges, the other four starters may get worn out by the time September rolls around.

The rest of the team looks solid and manager Bobby Cox certainly has a good track record of getting the most out of his players.

It should be a fun summer.


Thunder Son said...

So Chris, tell us what really counts...How are the Tuxedos doing?

Chris said...

Right now, the Tuxedos are struggling. They are in sixth place, but the fantasy baseball season is still young. Plenty of time left.

Eddie said...

Andruw Jones is the worry for me right now. You'd think in a free agent contract year, he'd have lost some weight and be putting up a monster year. Alas, I think he's fallen too much in love with double cheeseburgers and trying for home runs.

Chris said...

I didn't see last night's game, but on Tuesday, he was at least trying not to pull everything. He looked terrible against the Nationals and Red Sox last week. I think he's feeling the pressure of playing for a big contract.

Joltin' Django said...

You can find a Vegas book on just about every aspect of every sporting event. Reckon you can place a wager on how many times Bobby Cox will be ejected? I'll say he's got another 8 or 10 coming this season!

Tell them umps what's what, Bobby!