Rotation flourishing, but bullpen struggling

The Braves Show's Bill Shanks has some surprising numbers about the Braves' bullpen since the All-Star Break.

Braves' Manager Bobby Cox was visibly frustrated Sunday night after the loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Braves finished the homestand with five wins and five losses.

The struggles at home in the last ten days can be traced right to the bullpen, the one area of the team that was the strength in the first half of the season. Meanwhile, the rotation, under close scrutiny with the trade deadline now eight days away, has been very solid since the break.

Here are some statistics:

The bullpen's numbers for the homestand: 1-3, 3 blown saves, 6.03 ERA, 43 hits in 37.1 innings, 32 runs, 25 earned runs, 20 walks, 27 strikeouts

The rotation's numbers for the homestand: 4-2, 1.96 ERA, 47 hits in 59.2 innings, 13 runs, 13 earned runs, 19 walks, 35 strikeouts

With the exception of the start by Kyle Davies on Monday when he did not record an out, the shortest outing by a starter on the homestand was Sunday's 5.1 innings by Jo Jo Reyes. In those other eight starts Braves' starters went at least six innings (six innings twice, 6.1 innings once, seven innings four times, and eight innings once).

In the Braves last three games with the Cardinals, the bullpen gave up 11 earned runs in 9.2 innings.

In the Braves' five losses on the homestand, here were the bullpen's numbers: 0-3, 2 blown saves, 6.40 ERA, 32 hits in 25.1 innings, 24 runs, 18 earned runs, 17 walks, 19 strikeouts.

Tyler Yates is really struggling and may be showing signs of being a bit tired. After having a 0.84 ERA in June, Yates now has a 16.71 ERA in July. He's allowed 13 earned runs in his last ten games in seven innings pitched.

Rafael Soriano was dominant in the first two months of the season, but he has slipped with more work. In his last 16 games (since June 15th) Soriano is 1-2 with a 6.92 ERA. He's allowed 21 hits in 14.1 innings, 11 earned runs, 4 walks, and 13 strikeouts.

Meanwhile three members of the rotation are really turning it around. Tim Hudson gave up six runs in three innings in Los Angeles on July 5th, but he's been great in his first two starts since the All-Star Break. Hudson has allowed only one run in 14 innings with two wins.

Chuck James has two no-decisions since the All-Star Break, but he's pitched well enough to win both games. The bullpen has failed James, but he's done his job with only one run allowed in 13 innings. In James' last four starts he's 2-0 with a 1.10 ERA, 16 hits allowed in 24.2 innings, three runs, three earned runs, 10 walks, and 16 strikeouts. James' ERA is now 3.58.

Buddy Carlyle is the biggest surprise of the Braves' season. He was 2-0 on this homestand and allowed four runs in 13 innings (2.77 ERA), 11 hits in 14 innings, one walk, and six strikeouts. In his last five starts, Carlyle is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA, 25 hits in 32 innings pitched, eight runs, three walks, and 21 strikeouts.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at

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