Kawakami Showcases Braves Depth

The Braves have already been forced to dip into their starting pitching reserves once this season, thanks to the season ending elbow injury suffered by Kris Medlen. Mike Minor has performed extremely well in his stead, striking out 26 in 23 innings and posting a 3.91 ERA supported by a fantastic 2.45 FIP. The Braves will dip into those reserves again for at least one start this Friday, as Derek Lowe will be shelved with elbow pain. Atlanta will start Kenshin Kawakami in his place, showing off their impressive starting pitching depth.

Kawakami has an 8-21 record with Atlanta, but that belies how well he has really pitched. In nearly 240 innings over the past two seasons, Kawakami has struck out six batters per nine innings while only walking three. Combined with a below average HR/9 rate, that has led to a 4.20 FIP and a 4.17 ERA, both numbers right around the league average. That’s partially due to a low HR/FB rate, but his xFIP of 4.57 still suggests that Kawakami would provide a good deal over a replacement starter were that HR/FB rate to regress. ZiPS projects that said regression will be met by a decline in walk rate, leading to a 4.32 ERA and 4.11 FIP, both numbers which are excellent to receive out of a seventh starter.

The Braves really shouldn’t expect any drop off with Kawakami in the rotation over Lowe. Although Lowe is probably a better true talent pitcher – Lowe has a 3.87 projected FIP – Kawakami’s career and projected numbers are both right in line if not better than Lowe’s 2010 so far. Lowe has from a highly inflated HR/FB rate and has a 4.53 ERA and 4.29 FIP against a 3.94 xFIP.

One could probably make an argument that Kawakami could’ve been in the Braves starting rotation the whole year, but their embarrassment of riches hasn’t made it necessary. To be able to replace Derek Lowe with a league average pitcher can only be described as luxury. The fact that this is possible after already replacing one injured starter with a mid-rotation quality pitcher is a testament to the fantastic job the Braves have done of acquiring pitching talent.

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16 Responses to “Kawakami Showcases Braves Depth”

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  1. internet says:


    I’m excited to see what Wren and Co. will do this offseason.

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  2. Kevin S. says:

    And they dumped one of their best starters for a fourth outfielder and a raw pitching prospect this offseason.

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  3. Kev says:

    What if they still had Wainwright?!

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      They miss out on a division title and Wainwright probably isn’t as good right now. Everyone seems to forget he went down with a major arm injury within a season of that trade and is a completely different pitcher now than he was when he was dealt.

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  4. What if we still had Charlie Morton, JoJo Reyes, and Kyle Davies!!!! We’d be perennial World Series CHAMPS!

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  5. Kev says:

    Dont forget Albie Lopez, Tyler Yates, the Kolb train (actually still at every braves game– he’s the large statue next to the Coke bottle at Skyfield, look it up..)

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  6. Kev says:

    Oh wait.. the statue could be Bob Wickman.. they look alike.

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  7. Travis says:

    After Kawakami’s latest bad start, it’s looking more and more likely the Braves will once again be showing their pitching depth by calling up Brandon Beachy if Lowe can’t make his next start.

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