When the Braves enter the All-Star break after Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Padres at PETCO Park, they'll be considered longshots to reach this year's postseason. They're fourth in the National League East and trail the front-running Phillies by 6 1/2 games.
In the Wild Card standings, they rank eighth and trail the front-running Cardinals by 7 1/2 games. That said, the Braves are getting close to the point where general manager Frank Wren will have to concede the season and start looking toward the future.
It's long been assumed that the Braves won't be able to re-sign Mark Teixeira and there's reason to believe Ohman might be in the same boat. The left-handed reliever ranks third in the Majors with 48 appearances, and during his past 31 outings (entering Saturday), he has posted a 2.52 ERA and limited opponents to a .169 batting average.
Ohman continued his solid work in Saturday night's victory by getting two groundouts after entering the sixth inning with one out and runners on first and second base. Just two of the 17 runners he's inherited this year have scored.
"Ohman has had a great first half and he's really gotten better as the year has gone on," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "His breaking ball has improved so much."
Teams that are in contention could certainly see some value in Ohman, who has limited left-handed hitters to a .143 batting average and .200 on-base percentage this season. The Braves realized the value of adding a left-handed reliever when they acquired Ron Mahay at last year's trade deadline.
Even though he was 36 years old, Mahay received a two-year, $8 million contract from the Royals. His $4 million annual salary matched the one the Phillies had given fellow left-handed reliever J.C. Romero one month earlier.
With the market set in this neighborhood, Ohman knows there's a chance the Braves won't be able to afford him next year. They will have to pay Rafael Soriano $6.1 million next season, and if Soriano's elbow doesn't allow him to pitch in the second half, Mike Gonzalez is going to keep notching saves and raising the salary he can receive via arbitration.
"The scenario is what it is," Ohman said. "I'm not worried."
ATL: RHP Jorge Campillo (3-4, 3.06 ERA)
Campillo pitched seven strong innings Monday against the Dodgers, but he hung two breaking balls and it cost him three runs -- and a win. He allowed five hits, walked three and struck out two. Some in the Braves' organization have referred to Campillo as the Mexican Greg Maddux. Campillo allowed one run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings of relief on May 8 against the Padres.
SD: LHP Randy Wolf (6-8, 4.38 ERA)
Wolf is coming off his best start in recent memory, when he allowed one run in seven innings with one strikeout in the Padres' 10-1 victory over the Marlins on Tuesday. Wolf had lost his previous four starts, but after allowing seven runs in three innings against Colorado on July 2, he and pitching coach Darren Balsley looked at video of his starts earlier this season and spotted a mechanical flaw that wasn't allowing him to get as much extension with his left arm. The change worked well and Wolf not only had good command but good stuff against the Marlins.
Tim Hudson says that he'll be available to make a relief appearance if necessary on Sunday. The veteran right-hander faced the Dodgers on Tuesday and won't start again until the Braves face the Nationals in Atlanta on Friday. ... The Braves' bullpen hasn't allowed a homer in 60 consecutive innings. ... Soriano, who has missed most of this season with an ailing right elbow, began a rehab assignment with the Dominican Summer League team on Saturday. He tossed a scoreless inning with a strikeout.
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Monday-Wednesday: All-Star break