Tim Hudson struggled from the first batter on in his fourth spring training start — a 10-2 Atlanta Braves‘ loss. Hudson plunked the Miami Marlins‘ leadoff hitter Christian Yelich and then allowed a 3-run homer to Marcell Ozuna in the first inning. The Marlins got two more off Hudson in the second and added a run in the fifth to give Hudson an ugly final line (six runs, nine hits, one walk and one strikeout in five innings).
Hudson never looked comfortable on Sunday. He was forced to work out of jams all day, allowing a baserunner in each inning. His command was not sharp with two hit batsmen and the walk, and the outcome could have been worse if not for outfielder Reed Johnson throwing out a runner at the plate in the fourth inning.
The veteran pitcher will not lose sleep over his spring training performance, but there are some troubling trends developing this spring training. The early inning struggles he endured in 2012 have shown up once again this spring. This is his third consecutive outing he’s allowed at least one run in the first inning.
While his 6.43 ERA is not good, two other stats are more alarming – four strikeouts and .309 opponent batting average. The combination of those two numbers show he’s not getting enough swings and misses. Hudson’s forte is not racking up strikeouts. But he ranks last among the Braves’ projected five starting pitchers, and he’s had one more start than all of them.
Spring training allows for players to work out the kinks, and it’s not time to panic just yet in regards to Hudson. However, these negative trends need to be worked out as the season approaches. He will likely get three more starts to gain some positive momentum heading into the season, with his first chance to come Friday against the New York Mets – barring a change in schedule from manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Strikeout Watch: The Braves struck out just four times on Sunday to bring their spring total to 121 – fourth most among MLB teams in the spring.
Third Base Competition: Chris Johnson got the start, going 1-3 with a strikeout. He also made an error in the field – his third in spring training. Juan Francisco did not play.
Upton Brothers: Justin Upton was 0-2 with a walk and strikeout. B.J. Upton was a perfect 3-3 at the plate but got thrown out twice attempting to steal.
Up Next: The Braves get their third look with the Washington Nationals on Monday with Paul Maholm and Stephen Strasburg the scheduled starting pitchers.