The three competitors in the fifth starter competition for the Atlanta Braves all pitched Monday. Rodrigo Lopez started a “B” game in Orlando. I wasn’t there, but he was effective, allowing two runs on six hits over five innings. Lopez fanned seven.
I saw Brandon Beachy in the Jupiter “B” game versus a Cardinals lineup that was made up of mostly Triple-A players plus Lance Berkman, who has still not been cleared to play in the field due to elbow soreness. The switch-hitter was the DH and went hitless, including a strikeout and ground into a double play. Berkman is hitting just .240 this spring.
Beachy was sharp, allowing just three runners over five innings, on two hits and a walk. He fanned seven in his 77 pitches. One hit was a long ball to dead center that Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer took a hard fall trying to catch. It could have been scored a triple or a tough error. Though it occurred with no outs, Beachy stranded the runner.
Former Cardinal Joe Mather, bidding to make the Braves bench as an infielder/outfielder, slammed a long home run off St. Louis starter Brandon Dickson. Mather could be a nice power threat as a reserve pick in deep NL leagues. The other two runs in the 3-0 contest scored against ex-Pirates starter Ian Snell, who seems destined for Triple-A.
The third pitcher bidding for Atlanta’s top five is Mike Minor, who started the 1:00 P.M. game. Matt Holliday led off the second with a double that eluded former second baseman Martin Prado, now playing left for the Braves. The Cards loaded the bases but Minor escaped the jam by inducing a Colby Rasmus fly ball.
Minor was never in trouble again, firing a total of 64 strikes among his 91 pitches over five shutout innings. He yielded just two hits, no walks and fanned four. Minor’s spring ERA is just 0.90 so one might guess he is in the lead for that job.
The other starter was even better. Believe it or not, St. Louis’ Kyle Lohse allowed just one hit over six scoreless innings. In the process, he walked none, fanned four and dropped his spring ERA to 1.38. 43 of his 61 pitches were strikes.
Matt Holliday greeted former Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami with a sixth-inning home run to left center. Expect a typical year for the former Rockies outfielder while Kawakami should be ignored in fantasy leagues.