A strong first half that currently has the Atlanta Braves sitting in second place in the NL East, 3.5 games behind the first place Philadelphia Phillies, is due in large part to the stellar pitching staff that had led the Braves to a 54-38 record.
Atlanta's pitching staff, second in the National League with a team ERA of 3.11 and team batting average against of .233, recently had three members named to the 2011 NL All-Star team.
Jair Jurrjens was named to the team after putting together a first half worthy of a starting spot in the All-Star game. Jurrjens leads the NL in wins (12) and ERA (1.87) after pitching 110 2/3 innings, allowing only 23 runs on 93 hits while striking out 65 batters.
Atlanta's bullpen has two members on the All-Star team as set up man Johnny Venters and closer Craig Kimbrel were named to the team. Venters is the Braves top reliever having seen action in 51 games and compiling a 4-1 record in 55 1/3 innings of work. He has allowed only nine runs while striking out 59 and compiling a 1.46 ERA. Kimbrel, a candidate for NL Rookie-of-the-Year, set the MLB record for saves before the All-Star break by a rookie after getting his 28th save of the season on July 9. He has pitched 46 innings in 47 games, posting a 2.35 ERA while striking out 70 and converting 28 of 35 save attempts.
The other two Braves named to the All-Star team are Chipper Jones and Brian McCann.
Jones, who withdrew from the game after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Saturday, was named to his seventh All-Star team despite a sub-par first half in which he hit an uncharacteristic .259 with eight home runs and 46 RBI.
McCann is making his sixth All-Star appearance in as many major league seasons and his first start in the Mid-Summer Classic. He leads Atlanta in almost every statistical category after an MVP-like first half in which he hit .310 with 91 hits, including 15 home runs 50 RBI.
The MLB All-Star game is schedule to take place on Tuesday, July 12 with festivities beginning at 5 p.m. at Chase Field in Arizona.Tags: Atlanta Braves, Brian McCann, Johnny Venters, MLB