The Atlanta Braves are quickly resembling the American League Boston franchise as a team that has had major injuries in their pitching staff and now sees a once assumed postseason berth in peril as the 2011 season enters its final days. With a demoralizing walk off 5-4 loss to the Marlins Monday September 19th, the wildcard lead is now at 2.5 games while the Braves have lost 3 of 4 games. Here is an amazing comparison between the Red Sox and Braves past 14 days.
Records on 9/5: Boston(84-56) Atlanta(82-58)
Lead on 9/5: 7 games 8.5 games
Record on 9/19: 88-66 87-67
Lead on 9/19: 2 games 2.5 games
The Braves team strength all year has been the pitching staff, led by a deep and talented bullpen powered by closer RHP Craig Kimbrel(45 saves) and set up men LHPs Jonny Venters(33 holds,1.69 ERA) and Eric O’Flaherty(30,1.02). However, injuries to key right handed rotation members Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, has forced manager Fredi Gonzalez to go to the pen more than he wanted. Atlanta has also had to fill the rotation with several rookies from the farm and while they are immensely talented, most of them are on pitch counts and frankly not ready to pitch in the major leagues in September. Throwing them into a pennant chase is a recipe for disaster. The next 10 days or so should be very interesting in Atlanta.
UPDATES ON JURRJENS, HANSON: First the good news. Hanson threw two pain-free innings at the Braves spring training complex in Florida September 19th. His right shoulder was fine and he plans to throw a bullpen Wednesday September 21. If that goes well, Hanson will complete 3 or 4 innings in an instructional league game Friday September 23rd. If he comes out of these two outings with no further setbacks he could start the regular season finale September 28th and be in the line to pitch game 3 of the NL Division series. Hanson has not pitched in a ML game since August 6th. Jurrjens has been ruled out of the Division series and is questionable for the NLCS with a troublesome right knee that has bothered him for 2 months. He did throw of the mound for the first time since his last start(August 30th) with a brace on September 19th and felt good. “It just let me know that I need to keep working and gaining strength,” Jurrjens said. ” I fell fine. I think that was the hardest I’ve throw since Spring Training.”
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