Atlanta Braves Blog

The Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

So long and good luck, Jordan Schafer


SAN DIEGO – Part of me hated to see Jordan Schafer DFA’d, because I like him and still believe he’s a good player who can help a winning team. But for his sake and the sake of the Braves, today’s move was the best one, and now we’ll find out whether another team has seen enough of him to claim him off waivers and give him a shot at the playing time he wasn’t going to get here because of contracts and commitments to others.

He’s still young enough (27) and still has game-changing speed and strong defensive skills. Works hard, wants to be a really good player, and just needs to get back to the sound hitting approach he had when he was playing regularly in the first half last season when B.J. was hurt and others got nicked up, before Schafer also got injured (broken bone near his ankle on foul ball) and spent six weeks on the DL. After that, he was never the same and didn’t get the playing time to have much chance to get right.

Anyway, good luck, Schafe.

And we move on. It’s a cold game like that.

The Braves, after getting swept at Los Angeles, open a three-game series tonight in San Diego against a Padres team that they will have no excuse not to beat at least two out of three times. Because even if the Braves are facing a couple of decent to good pitchers in this series, especially Tyson Ross (2.60 ERA) in the finale, the fact is the Padres have the worst offense in baseball, and it got worse last week with the suspension of Cameron Maybin and trade of Chase Headley.

The Padres are 9-13 despite a 3.02 ERA in their past 22 games. They’ve hit .239 in that stretch and scored three or fewer runs in 14 of 22 games, including one or no runs in six of the past 19 games.

Then again, the Braves are also just 9-13 in their past 22 games, with only five more runs (89) than the Padres over that length.  And they’re the team trying to win a division and make the playoffs.

The Braves have scored three runs or fewer in 12 of those 22 games, and here’s the alarming stat: They are 0-7 in games decided by one run in that period. 0-7!

But if you’re the Braves, you’ve got to win a series against these guys, and a sweep isn’t too much to expect and would even up the trip before heading to Seattle for two games including one against King Felix.

First things first.

•  Tonight’s matchup features an actor (not really): It’s a lefty vs. lefty matchup of Mike Minor (4-6, 5.23 ERA) vs. Eric Stults (3-13, 5.22), who I always think of as that red-headed actor who starred in the movie Mask with Sam Elliott and Cher. But that was Eric Stoltz. So where were we?

Oh, yes: Stults is 1-10 with a 5.32 ERA and .268 opponents’ average in his past 13 starts. In that period he’s allowed 74 hits, 12 homers and 21 walks in 71 innings while the Padres have averaged fewer than 2.3 runs per nine innings he’s pitched.

However, Stults has a 1.86 ERA and .194 opponents’ average in his past three home starts, allowing just 13 hits, four runs and one homer in 19 1/3 innings. He’s 1-2 in those games because the Padres scored just one run while he was in each of the two losses (the splurged for two runs while he was in the win).

Stults is 2-3 with a 3.60 ERA in eight games (four starts) against the Braves, only one of those games in the past two seasons, that one last Sunday: He gave up six runs and six hits in six innings of a loss against Minor in Atlanta.

Among Braves with more than two at-bats against Stults, the aforementioned newcomer Emilio Bonifacio is a team-best 4-for-9. Justin Upton is 3-for-12 with a homer and three walks against the lefty, Jason Heyward is 2-for-7 with a homer, and Freddie Freeman is 1-for-9. Heyward is recovering from a sore back and expected to miss his fourth consecutive start.

   Minor will be facing the Padres (and Stults) for the second time in six days, after allowing eight hits (two homers) and three runs in 6 2/3 innings of his Sunday win in Atlanta. That was just the third quality start in his past nine for Minor, who is 2-2 with a 7.16 ERA and .352 opponents’ average in those nine games, with 76 hits including 10 homers allowed in 49 innings.

The lefty is 1-1 with a 6.90 ERA in his past five road starts.

Against the Padres, Minor is 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA and .333 opponents’ average in three career starts, last week being the first time he faced them since 2012.

Against Minor, Yangervis Solarte is 2-for-4 with a homer, Rene Rivera is 1-for-3 with a homer, Yonder Alonso is 2-for-3, Jeff Francoeur is 2-for-9 and Chris Nelson is 1-for-10 with four strikeouts. So, yes, he needs to be careful with a trio of fellas named Yangervis, Rene and Yonder.

   •  The Braves hope to have Heyward back for at least the last two games in the series, but he indicated late Thursday that he wouldn’t be in the lineup today as he continues to recover from a low-back strain.

After missing the entire series against the Dodgers, a team he’s struggled against throughout his career, the Padres probably hope he’ll miss a few more games, since Heyward has a .344 career average (32-for-93) with 11 doubles, four homers and 14 RBIs in 25 games against the Fathers, with a .408 OBP and .591 slugging percentage. In 15 games at Petco Park, he’s hit .274 with six doubles and three homers.

Justin Upton, a former Diamondback, has a .322 average with 18 homers and a .558 slugging percentage in 90 career games against the Padres, including .298 with 10 homers and in 43 games at Petco Park.

   • Emilio Bonifacio has a .311 average (14-for-45) with runners in scoring position, which will rank him third among Braves, behind Tommy La Stella’s .340 (17-for-50) and Freddie Freeman’s .318 (28-for-88), and ahead of Heyward’s .302 (26-for-86). Next is Chris Johnson’s .284.

The Braves have added another hitter with a plus-.400 average vs. lefties: Bonifacio has hit .408 (29-for-71) with a .592 slugging percentage against lefties, with seven doubles and two homers. Johnson leads  the Braves with a .433 average (29-for-73) against lefties, the major league leader among players with at least 70 plate apparances against lefties.

La Stella has hit .409 (18-for-44) with a .568 slugging percentage against lefties in a little over two months since arriving from Triple-A.

Evan Gattis has hit .383 (18-for-47) with five homers and a .766 slugging percentage against lefties, and Justin Upton has hit .320 (24-for-75) with a team-high six homers and a .613 slugging percentage against lefties.

Heyward’s .152 (15-for-99) vs. lefties is the NL’s lowest among lineup regulars and B.J. Upton is at .180 (16-for-89) after getting two hits Thursday against the premier lefty and best overall pitcher in the majors, Clayton Kershaw.

 La Stella is 18-for-55 (.327) with five doubles, 10 RBIs, five walks and a .383 OBP in his past 15 games, including 5-for-12 in the Dodgers series

• Did you know Eddie Vedder grew up in San Diego? Well, he did. We like Eddie a lot. Here's one of his best solo tunes.

"SOCIETY" by Eddie Vedder

It's a mystery to me

We have a greed with which we have agreed

And you think you have to want more than you need

Until you have it all, you won't be free

Society, you're a crazy breed

I hope you're not lonely without me

When you want more than you have, you think you need

And when you think more than you want, your thoughts begin to bleed

I think I need to find a bigger place

Cause when you have more than you think, you need more space

Society, you're a crazy breed

I hope you're not lonely without me

Society, crazy indeed

Hope you're not lonely without me

There's those thinking more or less, less is more

But if less is more, how you keepin score?

Means for every point you make your level drops

Kinda like you're startin' from the top

And you can't do that

Society, you're a crazy breed

I hope you're not lonely without me

Society, crazy indeed

I hope you're not lonely without me

Society, have mercy on me

I hope you're not angry if I disagree

Society, you're crazy indeed

I hope you're not lonely without me

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About the Author

David O'Brien has covered the Atlanta Braves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2002.