Saturday, April 11, 2009

Scouting Report: Nationals at Braves (4/11)

Four games in, it's a two-team race. The Nationals and the Indians are tied at 0-4 for the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. With Scott Olsen pitching tomorrow, tonight is clearly their last chance to avoid opening to Nationals Park winless.

Check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on the Atlanta' hitters and bullpen. Here's my look at the Braves' game 2 starter and prediction.

On the Mound
Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami makes his major league debut after throwing 23.1 innings with a 3.09 ERA this spring.

Kawakami throws a throws a slow curve, cutter, and a mediocre, hittable fastball. If that sounds like an unimpressive package of junk, that's what I was thinking too. Clay Davenport at Baseball Prospectus translates his Japanese league numbers to Major League equivalents like this:
Kawakami   IP    ERA   H/9   HR/9   BB/9  SO/9
2006 198 4.90 8.5 1.4 2.4 5.5
2007 162 5.68 9.8 1.3 1.7 5.1
2008 110 4.01 8.7 1.3 2.7 6.1
I see unimpressive strikeout rates, very good command, and a lot of homers. If he can command his breaking balls this well he should be able to eat innings and provide value. PECOTA expects him to go 145 innings with a 4.22 ERA, which is almost half a run better than the 2008 NL average (4.63) a run and a quarter better than replacement.

If they were hoping for an ace, they'd be disappointed. But they aren't. As the 4th guy behind Lowe, Vazquez, and Jurrgens, he should fit the bill.

Fearless Prediction
Season record: 4-0
Tonight's the night. Dunn and Zimmerman play long-ball, and Lannan bounces back with the kind of steady but unspectacular start we've come to expect. Manny uses the whole bench to hold down the lead. Scats get their first of the year, 6-4.

1 comment:

Rob B said...

May your prediction streak continue.
I don't care if it's ugly; we just need a W.