|69-71 (4th place, NL Central)
81-60 (2nd place, NL East)
|Game 1||Wily Peralta (1-0, 5.14)||vs.||Mike Minor (8-10, 4.58)|
|vs. Braves||(0-0, ---)||vs.||(1-0, 0.00)|
|vs. Braves||(0-0, 0.00)||vs. Brewers||(0-0, ---)|
|vs. Braves||(0-0, ---)
||vs. Brewers||(0-2, 11.25)
While the Brewers and Braves prepare for their final meeting of 2012, we traded questions with Alex Remington of Braves Journal regarding our respective teams and this series. My answers to his questions will be over there, and his answers are below.
BCB: The Braves followed up an 18-8 July with a 15-14 August. They were still 20 games over .500 entering play Sunday, but do the events of last season make it even more important than usual for them to finish strong?
AR: Last season is in the back of everyone's mind, but it isn't in the front. While the collapse was horrendous, it says a lot about the organization that the aftermath was a lot less grim than in Boston. While it's possible for fans to criticize the fact that the front office did very little in the offseason to address one of the biggest chokes in sports history, general manager Frank Wren was correct to assert that the Braves as constructed in 2011 would remain a competitive team in 2012. The in-season acquisitions this year — from obtaining emergency defensive shortstop Paul Janish to getting one month of Ben Sheets to trading the injured Arodys Vizcaino for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson — did much more to upgrade the team than the front office managed in the offseason.
BCB: Mike Minor (who will start for the Braves on Monday) is still only 24 years old but is carrying a 4.58 ERA in his third major league season to go with his 4.65 career mark. What do you think the future holds for the former #7 overall pick?
AR: Minor has had an unbelievably up-and-down season. You can basically split it into three sections: his first four starts (3.42 ERA, 21/5 K/BB), his next nine starts (7.43 ERA, 51/33 K/BB), and his most recent 11 starts (2.58 ERA, 52/13 K/BB). At the start of the year, it looked like Minor had a bit of bad luck with longballs, which started to snowball into a loss of confidence into his fastball. By looking at those K/BB stats you can pretty easily see that his command went awfully wobbly as the season went south, his fastball command visibly degrading as he started to nibble, appearing afraid of throwing strikes. By the end of June it was hard to understand how he was still in the rotation. But since the start of July he's been one of the best left-handed starters in the league. Along with Brandon Beachy, who should be back from Tommy John surgery next year, and the brilliant Kris Medlen, Minor is a big part of our future.
BCB: Craig Kimbrel appears likely to lead the National League in saves for the second consecutive season. Is he the best closer in baseball?
AR: Craig Kimbrel is a luxury yacht. He isn't better than Aroldis Chapman, who's pitched a lot more and has even better components, but he sure isn't a whole lot worse. There are a lot of things that a baseball team needs more than they need an unhittable closer, like offense and defense, and watching teams overpay for closers in the offseason — like the woeful Marlins and Phillies — is painful. But, my God, having Craig Kimbrel on the team is sheer bliss.