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Braves Vs. Nationals: Tommy Hanson Chalks Up Struggles To Fastball Command

Saturday, April 2
(1-1) Atlanta Braves - 3
(1-1) Washington Nationals - 6

Box Score

Tommy Hanson's Struggles:
Hanson simply didn't have it in Saturday's loss to the Nationals. He allowed four runs on five hits in 3.2 innings, walking two and striking out one. Two of the runs came on a home run by Rick Ankiel. The other two came on hits or dumb mistakes.

I would love to give you a breakdown of Hanson's pitches, but Pitch FX decided to run extremely slow on the gun in this game and all of the numbers are off. I can tell you from memory that Hanson threw a good amount of breaking pitches that were relatively flat and up for the most part. His fastball was extremely flat and had no life, sitting 90-92 in most cases.

One start isn't worth worrying about, but it's worth watching next time out. After the spring he had, it's very surprising he came out like this.

Going After John Lannan:
The gameplan I set for the Braves offense was attacking Lannan's breaking stuff and watching for the changeup. The problem is Lannan hardly threw a breaking pitch. Only two outs were recorded on curves or sliders: strikeouts of Brian McCann and Nate McLouth. Otherwise, Lannan threw very few of them, and the Braves didn't offer. His changeup was used fairly effectively, but his fastball spotted well and was his best pitch.

Several Braves had success against Lannan in the past, and it could be seen at times. Chipper Jones attacked him early in the count and singled twice, driving in a run on one of the hits. Jason Heyward walked once and Alex Gonzalez singled twice. The Braves put two in scoring position in both the second and fourth innings but came away empty. A Freddie Freeman groundout left the inning up to Hanson in the second, and he grounded out. Singles by Gonzalez and Freeman put two on with one out in the fourth, and after Hanson bunted them over, Martin Prado flew out to end the threat.

Even after Lannan left, the Braves continued to leave runners on. A Gonzalez walk and Freeman double put the same two in scoring position again, but Brooks Conrad struck out after getting ahead 3-1, and Prado flew out again. The Braves singled twice in the seventh, but the first was erased by a double play and the second was left on. The only production late in the game was solo home runs by Dan Uggla and Gonzalez.

Nate McLouth Thief-o-Meter (Season total of at bats McLouth steals from Heyward)

WPA (Win Probability Added) Leaders:
(WAS) Tyler Clippard: .255
(WAS) Rick Ankiel: .180
(ATL) Alex Gonzalez: .147

WPA Losers:
(ATL) Tommy Hanson: -.288
(ATL) Martin Prado: -.204
(WAS) Doug Slaten: -.120

Game graph courtesy of FanGraphs:

Quotes courtesy of David O'Brien of the AJC:

Fredi Gonzalez:

On Tommy Hanson getting behind in counts

"Yeah, but you know what? He kept us in the ballgame. I would have been curious to see, if that rain didn’t [delay the game], how well he would have handled the rest of the game. Because you always like to see guys, when they’re not pitching or they don’t have their good stuff, how well they can get through it. And I think he was well on his way to doing that."

Tommy Hanson:

On what they were hitting:

"They hit a lot of fastballs. All the balls they hit hard were primarily fastballs. I had a couple of them where I thought I made a good pitch and they hit it and other ones I didn’t make a good pitch and they hit that too. But I think a couple times getting behind in the count, especially to (Rick) Ankiel…I think the biggest thing for me to take away from this is I wasn’t consistently throwing strikes, and consistently commanding the zone."


"My fastballs were catching way too much of the plate. It was one of those things where I was little bit off with my command. With all that being said, I’m obviously not worried about it, it’s my first start. I know I can pitch better than that. Just going to chalk it up to one of those days, just work hard in my next ‘pen, get my fastball command, staying down in the zone and hope to go out and do better next time."

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.