I don't know how much more of this I can take. Some times your starting pitcher is going to get knocked out early. When that happens you expect your bullpen to at least hold the other team at bay. Our middle relievers have not been able to come into a game and stop the bleeding. Yesterday just proved this point over again. Lowe left the game with runners on 1st and 3rd down 6-1. The final score of the game? 11-7. The point is, that had the bullpen been able to hold down the fort for a few innings, we would have had a chance to win this one. Even with these two dissapointing losses to the Yankees, we are still only 4 games back. Just to make sure the bullpen was the problem, I did a little research. A simple check on mlb.com shows that the Braves are right near the middle of the pack with a 4.09 bullpen ERA. My first thought was "That's not that bad, maybe the bullpen isn't losing us that many games". A little more research, however, shows that the ERA of everyone not named Gonzalez or Soriano, is a staggering 5.10. The only team that has a worse bullpen ERA in the NL is the Nationals. Soriano and Gonzalez have combined to pitch 67 2/3 innings and have given up 13 eared runs. Everyone else? 157 innings and 89 earned runs. That's 11 pitchers combining for 69 percent of the work load and 87 percent of the earned runs allowed. Another stat that appears to be terrible for our bullpen is inherited runners vs. inherited runners scored. Soriano and Gonzalez have yet to allow an inherited runner to score, the rest of the bullpen is allowing 40 percent of inherited runners to score. These stats are only available per player and there are no team stats that I could find so I don't know how this 40 percent compares to the rest of the league, but it does not seam very good at all. Our other problem is pretty obvious and it's that we aren't getting any sort of consistent production from our 5-8 hitters. So what do we need? A good middle reliever and a power bat in the middle of the lineup. So I was just thinking, what are the options? Jeff Francoeur has been talked about as a trade option, but I am not quite ready to give up on him because I'm too big of a homer. Anyway we don't have a lot of option because of the financial restrictions we have. But there is help on the way. Omar Infante should be back after the allstar break and that will bolster our lineup quite a bit. With Infante back our lineup could look something like this:
That lineup looks very good. Even a struggling Francoeur is a great number 8 hitter. With our deep pitching staff and improving relievers we should be able to make a solid run at the NL East division.