Monday, July 30, 2007

The Book On...Atlanta (NL) Pitchers, 2007

Scouting the Braves Pitchers

By

Clinton Riddle

Feb 28th, 2007-Once a paragon of pitching power, the Braves have as many questions as answers in 2007. Much will depend upon Mike Hampton's comeback from elbow surgery in 2005, as well as Tim Hudson's return to form and John Smoltz's comtinued excellence at age 39. Lefty Chuck James will need to build on last year's solid performance, and Tanyon Sturtze should be ready before May is out. If the rotation can fall together, and that is a rather big "if", then the Braves could be a force to reckon with.

Team ERA-4.71
K/BB Ratio-2.06/1
IP/Start-5.74
Opp. BA-.279

Starters
John Smoltz, RHP
Future HOF
2006: 16-9, 3.49, 232 IP, 211 SO, 55 BB, .251 BAA
Just keeps on going, with no real signs of slowing down...Has been able to become a dominant closer relatively late in his career, then switch back to the rotation and pick right up where he left off...How many can say that?...FB reaches the high-90's still, but works around 93-94, along with a cutter, hard slider and splitter...cutter has late action, looks a lot like his slider but runs instead of breaks...Throws a curve to LHH, works in and out with ease...Splitter is only used occasionally...Has stayed in great shape and seems to have an even better feel for his stuff now than in years previous.

2007 Projection: 17-6, 3.65, 210 IP, 180 K, 65 BB

Tim Hudson, RHP
2006: 13-12, 4.86, 218 1/3 IP, 141 SO, 79 BB, .273 BAA
Big surprise, and not in a good way...Finally seemed to show his mortality last year, as his control became an issue...Classic sinker/slider pitcher...Heavy sinker at 92-94, curve, slider, CU and splitter...Aggressive with the curve to lefties, sinker bores in on RHH, splitter drops like a rock...Got a little fine around the plate in '06, and while his BB total wasn't terrible he was wild in the zone and paid for it...Should rebound without question this year, though he may be streaky at times with location at first.

2007 Projection: 15-8, 3.60, 200 IP, 155 SO, 55 BB
Mike Hampton, LHP
Comeback?
2006: DNP
Last healthy in 2005, his return from elbow surgery is vital to Atlanta's resurgence...Has athleticism going for him, along with a strong track record...In 2005 had FB around 88-90, good curve and plus CU...FB has natural tailing action which he throws away from RHH...Mostly away with everything, will go inside to LHH with curve...Hard to say what he's going to do this year, but assuming he's able to stay healthy he should be a solid #3...At 34, he doesn't have a lot of time to work with.

2007 Projection: 13-8, 4.25, 140 IP, 85 SO, 55 BB

Chuck James, LHP
One to Watch
2006: 11-4, 3.78, 119 IP, 91 SO, 47 BB, .232 BAA
Young lefty with a good idea of what he's doing on the mound...Good mechanics and arm action...FB tops out at 90, slider and CU...Throws CU with same arm speed as FB, adding to deception...Slider has better lateral movement than downward break...Should be able to continue development regardless of league batters' adjustments.

2007 projection: 14-7, 3.68, 175 IP, 125 SO, 70 BB

Kyle Davies, RHP
One to Watch
2006: 3-7, 8.38, 63 1/3 IP, 51 SO, 33 BB, .332 BAA
Is much better than numbers would indicate, as is often the case with young pitchers...FB in low-90's, curve and CU...Plus FB but gets up with it and gets hit hard because of it...If he can keep the fastball down and be more aggressive, as well as maintaining his plus change, he should develop into a solid #3 or a very good #4...Also needs to work on mechanics.

2007 projection: 10-11, 4.45, 135 IP, 110 SO, 55 BB

Relievers
Tyler Yates, RHP
FB up to high-90's, tough to handle when he's on...(to be continued)

Rafael Soriano, RHP
2006: 1-2, 2.25, 53 G, 60 IP, 44 H, 65 SO, 21 BB, .204 BAA
Power pitcher, 3/4 arm slot...FB up to mid 90's with movement low in the zone, slurvy slider and CU with 2-seam action...Could stand to separate speeds a bit more...Hit in head with line drive last August, could affect his game.

2007 projection: 2.50, 60 G, 65 IP, 55 H, 62 SO, 30 BB, .233 BAA

Oscar Villarreal, RHP
2006: 9-1, 3.61, 58 G, 92 1/3 IP, 93 H, 55 SO, 27 BB, .261 BAA
2.63 ERA after the AS break...Can be short man or middle reliever...Mid-90's FB, splitter-like CU that is in early stages, heavy sink on FB, late slider...Changes arm slot as well to keep hitters on their toes...Has problems with maintaining velocity in consecutive appearances.

2007 projection: 3.35, 54 G, 74 IP, 65 H, 50 SO, 33 BB, .245 BAA

As before, will add on as I am able.
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