Posts Tagged ‘Tim Hudson


Braves hope Hudson holds key to Wild Card berth…

Braves right-hander Tim Hudson

Braves right-hander Tim Hudson

One day after his 2009 season debut was delayed, Tim Hudson is finally ready to re-join the Atlanta Braves rotation.

Originally slated to take the mound in the opening game of the series for Atlanta, Hudson’s start was pushed back to Tuesday, September 1, the day when Major League rosters expand. The Braves’ decision to wait on activating Hudson was due largely to the fact that the team has been struggling with injuries to their outfield, and now won’t have to make a move to clear a spot for their hurler.

Hudson, who has missed over a year of action due to Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, is set to make his first start of the season in ironically the same ballpark (Land Shark Stadium) against the same opponent (the Florida Marlins) where he made his last ill-fated start on July 23, 2008, when elbow discomfort forced him to exit the game.

Less than a week later, Hudson saw his season end, as he went under the knife to repair the extensive damage in his elbow.

But, don’t expect Hudson to get caught up in any feelings of deja vu.

Too much is at stake for Hudson’s Braves, who find themselves just three games behind the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants in the hotly contested National League Wild Card race.

And, making this four-game series with the Marlins even more critical for the Braves is the fact that Florida is right on Atlanta’s heels, only four games back in Wild Card hunt.

Atlanta won the opener 5-2 last night in impressive fashion, rallying for three runs in the 7th inning against Marlins ace Josh Johnson, who had held the Braves hitless for the previous 5 2/3 innings.

Omar Infante’s clutch two-run triple aided Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami’s six strong innings of one run baseball en route to what could be touted as the biggest victory of the season for Atlanta thus far.

Hudson has enjoyed great success against Florida in his career.

The Braves right-hander is 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 career starts against the Marlins, including a 5-1 record and 2.59 ERA in eight career starts at Land Shark Stadium.

And, before being forced to exit his last start against them over a year ago, he had allowed only three hits over six scoreless innings.

Tonight, Hudson will oppose Marlins right-hander Anibal Sanchez, in hopes of making it two in a row for the Braves against the Fish in this make-or-break series.

The 34-year-old Hudson’s future with Atlanta beyond this year remains uncertain. His contract includes a $12 million dollar team option with a $1 million dollar buyout for 2010.

Beyond his desire of helping to contribute to the Braves’ hopes of playing October baseball, Hudson is also pitching to show the club that he can still be a valuable member of their rotation plans going forward.

His long journey back to the Majors is finally here.

The Braves and their fans can only wait with baited breath to see if the old Tim Hudson has returned for good.


The state of the Braves… post trade deadline.

Adam LaRoche returns to Atlanta

Adam LaRoche returns to Atlanta

The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone leaving many in Braves Nation wondering, does this team have the horses to be legitimate contenders for a playoff spot heading down the stretch?

Before Monday night’s game against the San Diego Padres, the Braves find themselves in third place in the National League East, seven games behind first place Philadelphia. While the division remains a lofty goal for Atlanta, it is certainly not out of reach.

The Braves have dominated the defending champions this season winning seven of nine games against them. The Bravos overwhelming success against the Fightin’ Phils coupled with the fact that the two rivals are still scheduled to meet nine more times before the season concludes, offers a definite sense of hope.

Still, Philadelphia has been riding a hot streak since the All-Star Break and with the addition of a bona fide ace to their rotation in Cliff Lee, the division does appear to be a long shot.

That means Atlanta’s best chance of playing October baseball will likely be if the team nabs the National League Wild Card.

The Braves are only five games out of the Wild Card spot but are chasing four teams, including the Florida Marlins, another divisional foe.

So, are the Braves contenders or pretenders?

With a starting rotation that ranked third in the National League heading into Sunday night’s game against the Dodgers, and a revamped line-up which has improved on the dearth of power that has plagued the team all season long, the Braves seem poised to make a run.

In July, the Braves manufactured an NL-best .828 OPS and ranked third in both runs (139) and home runs (32). That production is a stark contrast from an inconsistent and often shoddy offensive showing from the team in the season’s first three months.

The Braves also feel their mid-season acquisitions of Nate McLouth and Adam LaRoche give the club a more potent offensive punch going forward.

McLouth has been a stabilizing force in the lead-off spot, allowing the rest of the line-up to gel and settle into their roles.

LaRoche, who played for Atlanta through the 2006 season, knows the organization well and has statistically performed big in the second half of the season.

While LaRoche’s career .252 batting average leaves something to be desired, his .295 average after the All-Star break combined with his impending free agency, are reasons why the Braves decided to re-acquire their former slick fielding first baseman.

The improved offense stands to benefit what has been a solid, but often under-appreciated Braves pitching staff.

A rotation comprised of Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Kenshin Kawakami, and rookie sensation Tommy Hanson could go up against any rotation in baseball.

And, in the coming weeks, the Braves staff looks to get that much stronger and deeper with the return of Tim Hudson from Tommy John surgery.

The Braves bullpen boasts three relievers in the top six in appearances in Peter Moylan (58), Mike Gonzalez (53) and Eric O’Flaherty (43).

While the back of the bullpen has held up thus far, the team wouldn’t mind adding another arm to the mix for the stretch run.

Any reliever acquired would have to pass through waivers, sometimes making it harder for a team to complete a deal, although the Braves are still exploring any and all options.

If the Braves could indeed bolster their bullpen, that fresh arm could provide added security to what could otherwise become an overexposed relief corps.

So, again, the question looms… contenders or pretenders?

The Braves have given every indication, on the field and off, that they are poised, confident and ready to compete for a playoff spot.

It was the team’s consistently strong starting pitching that has kept them afloat early in the season and it will be the team’s starting pitching that will give them their best shot at October.

One can never have enough pitching. Good pitching beats good hitting. These age old adages have been proven true time and time again and are the main reason why the Braves were able to win fourteen consecutive division titles.

With that being said… do the Braves still have holes?


But, so does every team.

And, this team’s holes have become increasingly less glaring.

So, buckle up Braves fans. It’s going to be a wild ride to the finish.


Hudson targets August return…

Braves right-hander Tim Hudson

Braves right-hander Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson is one step closer to returning to the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves right-hander, who continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, tossed a 90-pitch bullpen session Thursday in preparation for his first minor league rehabilitation start for Class A Myrtle Beach on July 19.

Huddy looked impressive and barring any setbacks, he could re-join the Braves as early as August 25.

However, the Braves may choose to be cautious with Hudson and wait until September when the roster expands before activating him from the disabled list.

With that in mind, an interesting question remains: Where do the Braves put Huddy?

Atlanta’s starting rotation of Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Kenshin Kawakami, and rookie Tommy Hanson has been mighty impressive.

Lowe, the anchor of the staff, is 7-6 on the season. But, his record is deceiving, as a recent season-high three game losing streak marred what had been a solid season.

Jurrjens has proven to be the Braves most reliable starter all season long but has been the victim of poor run support. With an ERA of 2.73 on the year and after flirting with a no-hitter against the division leading Phillies on Wednesday, Jurrjens continues to strengthen his case for a spot on the National League All-Star team.

Vazquez is quietly racking up the “K’s” with 130 on the season and finds himself trailing only San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum’s 132 for the NL lead in strikeouts. Vazquez has also suffered at the hands of an often punchless Braves offense. Over his past seven starts, he finds himself 1-4 with a 2.06 ERA.

Japanese newcomer Kenshin Kawakami is 4-6 on the year with a 4.25 ERA but has shown steady progress while transitioning to baseball in the United States.

Rookie Tommy Hanson has been nothing short of brilliant in his early stint with the Braves. Hanson is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA and is coming off a gutsy performance against the Boston Red Sox, where he helped the Braves avoid a sweep while suffering with a bad case of the flu. Hanson also hasn’t allowed a run in 20 consecutive innings, which helped him nab NL Rookie of the Month honors.

The Braves deep rotation is a stark contrast from last season’s staff which saw four out of the five projected starters go down with injuries. GM Frank Wren’s goal of restructuring the Braves rotation this past off-season has so far paid dividends. So much so that the team is hard pressed to fit a former All-Star and 20-game winner into the fold.

I can’t imagine the Braves sending Hudson to the bullpen, as some have speculated. There is no question, if healthy, the Atlanta Braves rotation will be that much better with Tim Hudson in it. But, the health question is a big “if.” Huddy is coming off of major reconstructive arm surgery and no one can be certain if he will be effective and if his arm will hold up. But, if he proves to be durable and the Hudson of old, the Braves will be that much more dangerous heading down the stretch.

My guess is Kawakami will be the odd man out of the Braves rotation when Hudson returns. I actually feel Kawakami could thrive in the bullpen. He experienced arm fatigue during Spring Training and at times during the season, so pitching fewer innings should be less taxing on his arm. It also may help him be more aggressive when going after hitters because he will be used in a more situational role.

Regardless of what the Braves decide to do, one thing is for sure: you can never have too much pitching. And, when teams with playoff aspirations are scrambling to pick up a veteran arm or two for the stretch run, the Braves are afforded the luxury of gaining an ace caliber pitcher without having to give up anything in return.



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