Pitching MVP & LVP of the Month:
MVP: Tyler Yates - apologies to Peter Moylan, Chad Paronto, and John Smoltz
LVP: Kyle Davies - apologies to Lance Cormier and Bob Wickman
Sometimes large win totals or large save totals don't paint a full picture of how important a player is to a team. But when Mike Gonzalez went down last month, it was going to be up to someone in the bullpen to step up and claim the seventh inning role. Tyler Yates has done that. Yates posted an impressive 0.84 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP through the month of June. He allowed only one earned run and was better than any other Braves reliever in keeping runners off base. He held opponents to a .135 batting average this month - and he's held batters to a .183 average this year.
Yates wasn't the only member of the bullpen who managed to pick up the slack. Chad Paronto has returned to the dominance he displayed late last year and this spring. When he initially came off the disabled list on the first of May he was horrible; that month he posted a 10.24 ERA. But June was a different story as Chad put up a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings of work. He finished up the month on a very positive note, not allowing a run in his last 8 appearances spanning 9 innings.
Another reliever, who has likely been our most consistently good reliever this year, is Peter Moylan. He has not posted an ERA over 3.00 in any month this year, and the 2.30 ERA he posted this month was his best. The value of Moylan is added by his ability to go multiple innings if needed. Peter leads all NL rookies with a 2.41 ERA and a .210 opponents batting average. Moylan also posted the highest K/9 rate in June of any Braves reliever except for Macay McBride, which probably begs the question once again, "why did we trade McBride for someone who seems to not be that much better in Wilfredo Ledezma?" I think we'll have to wait a while to see who will eventually get the better end of that trade. My fear is that it will be a huge win for one team and a huge blunder by the other, but which team that will be is yet to be seen.
I considered John Smoltz as the pitching MVP of June. He had an amazing 25-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio this month, a solid 3.52 ERA and an impressive 1.09 WHIP. But Smoltzy only started four games this month due to injury and when we needed a win in the middle of the losing streak against the AL, he couldn't deliver. He was good though, and if he continues this pace he will once again deserve consideration for the Cy Young, just as he deserved his nomination to the All-Star team.
The rest of the rotation was a collection of the mediocre. Tim Hudson was decent, but not as dominant as he was in the first month, but the rest of the rotation featured on-again-off-again performances and inconsistent pitching. Kyle Davies had two quality starts, but the starts in between were disasters with more unfulfilled promise. Davies had one win and four losses, and this pattern of several mediocre starts interrupted by one "ray of hope start" is wearing thin. It's wearing thin because it keep us fans hanging on and thinking that maybe he'll emerge from the doldrums, and perhaps this is also what keeps the Braves hanging on and hoping. In the mean time he had bad start after bad start that didn't put our team in a position to win - that rates him LVP status.
Lance Cormier, a member of the almost LVP club, made two disastrous starts in his return from the DL, and proved that he was ready to go right back on the DL. He has really been a disappointment this year, as I'm sure this year has been a disappointment for him. All the promise he showed this spring has completely evaporated. Another member of the club is Bob Wickman. Many think he may still be injured, but whatever the problem he is not pitching as well as he did last year. Perhaps he is a second half pitcher - we'll soon find out.