In a rebuilding year there are good stories and bad ones and one of the bad ones is when a guy who was supposed to be your ____ of the future doesn’t do all that hot. Christian Bethancourt was one of those guys for the Braves this year, so he spent most of the middle of the season in the minors.
But, since it is a rebuilding year, you can do things like use late August and all of September to give those bad stories a chance to head into the winter with optimism. Such is the case with Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt, who was sent down to Triple-A in June after early season struggles. Today they called him back up for a chance to head into the offseason with his head held a bit higher.
In the bigs he hit .298/.221/.287 in 29 games and, worse, played bad defense, which was supposed to be his calling card. A.J. Pierzynski took most of his playing time before he left and all of it after. In the minors he righted the ship quite nicely, hitting .327/.359/.480 in 52 games. If he can post numbers closer to that than what he did in Atlanta the Braves will have one less question mark heading into year two of the rebuild.
Jon Morosi reports that Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman reported feeling “great” after throwing a 40-pitch simulated game today. He’ll throw another one on Friday and, assuming all is could, should be cleared to join Buffalo for a minor league rehab assignment.
Stroman has missed all season after tearing his ACL in spring training. He was thought to be gone for the year, but he’s rehabbing more quickly than expected. Which could be a big deal for the Blue Jays, who could use last year’s rookie sensation as either a starter or as a secret weapon out of the pen down the stretch or in the playoffs.
On-base percentage is super important. It may be the most important single stat for batters. But there are limits to what a good OBP can do for you.
Take Dodgers rookie center fielder Joc Pederson. His OBP is a healthy .357 and in the month of August it’s a fantastic .413. But that’s almost all on walks. He’s walked 20 times in the month of August and has only two hits and 17 strikeouts in 41 at bats. His line for the month: .122/.413/.293. That’s profoundly weird — he’s walking more now and striking out less than he had been –but it’s not terribly useful, especially given the power expectations he set earlier in the season. He has only three home runs since the All-Star break. An All-Star break during which he appeared in the Home Run Derby.
Yesterday Don Mattingly benched Pederson, saying that Kiké Hernandez gives the team a better chance to win. Hernandez, for his part, is raking at the moment, hitting .327/.389/.551 this month, primarily filling in for Howie Kendrick at second base. With Chase Utley coming over to Los Angeles and with Kendrick due back eventually, Mattingly no doubt doesn’t want to lose Hernandez’s bat.
Just a weird year for Pederson. Say what you want about the tenets of becoming the second coming of a post-decline Adam Dunn, but at least it’s an ethos. Just not one helping a team with pretensions of hanging on to its lead in the NL West.