Rookie righty Ethan Martin got his second crack at the Braves Tuesday night and improved upon his first showing against his favorite team from his childhood. Martin threw five innings, giving up three runs, all earned, while striking out six and walking just two. Yet, the three runs Martin gave up early, one from a second inning Kris Medlen double and two more via a NL batting leader Chris Johnson homer were all the Braves needed to put away the Phils 3-1.
Medlen went seven strong for the Braves, giving up just one run, earned, while scattering five hits and one walk. David Carpenter pitched a perfect eighth as a bridge to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. Kimbrel earned his 37th save of the year.
Utley Earning Keep
Chase Utley had another three-hit game, his 24th multi-hit game of the season, to raise his average to .286, just one point off his career average. As Pat pointed out when Utley signed his extension, Utley is still a very good player. Utley now only trails Cardinals late-bloomer Matt Carpenter among NL second baseman in FanGraph’s calculation of the advanced stat WAR and currently ranks as the 37th best hitter in all of baseball by the same measure.
Small-Sample Silver Linings
Darin Ruf reached base twice with a single and a hit by pitch. In 125 PA, Ruf is hitting a respectable .274 with a slugging percentage of .515, which is second on the team, behind Domonic Brown. Bill Baer of ESPN’s Sweet Spot blog recently cautioned that Ruf likely isn’t a .300 hitter and that some of his success has been do to random chance and small sample. While I tend to agree with those sentiments, Ruf continues to be one of the lone bright spots on the Phillies offense and, despite never playing there, looks comfortable in right field. At least to the standards that Delmon Young set.
Phillies relievers Luis Garcia and Jake Diekman pitched the sixth and seventh and appear to be two of the salvageable pieces from the 2013 bullpen in small samples as well. Garcia continues to flirt with 95 and 96 MPH pitches, enough gas to let him challenge hitters. Garcia pitched a perfect sixth before getting into trouble in the seventh. Diekman bailed out Garcia with a double play. Both have struggled with keeping runners off base, particularly Garcia who, in 14.1 innings pitched, has a 1.40 WHIP, which would put him around 79th out of 103 if he had enough innings to qualify. Meanwhile, Diekman’s WHIP sits at 1.76, which would put him about 103rd. If either can control their walks, but have effective enough stuff to be contributing arms in the 2014 bullpen.