Braves 9

Bullpen? Bullpen? Shelby Miller don’t need no stinking bullpen!

It was a masterful performance. He threw just 99 pitches: 75 strikes, 24 balls. He walked a man and gave up two singles and an opposite-field double to Ryan Howard (it might have been a homer in a bandbox stadium) — and that was really it. No Phillie reached third base. Including the man he walked, Shelby only went to a three-ball count three times all night. He struck out eight, including the last batter, Howard, who just couldn’t catch up to 96-mile-an-hour gas. The kid’s a ballplayer.

The offense looked good, obviously. It was a sign of the Phillies’ ineptitude that the Braves managed to score nine runs despite grounding into three double plays, and despite leaving men in scoring position in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, including leaving men on 2nd and third in the 6th and leaving the bases loaded in the 7th.

Probably the biggest play of the game was one of the ugliest errors you’ll see. In the fourth inning, with the Braves already up 2-0 after a Freddie Freeman homer in the first, the Braves got consecutive singles to open the inning. Then Jonny Gomes hit a sharp ground ball right at third baseman Cody Asche. It should have been a tailor-made double play. But Asche ole’d it, the ball went under his glove, a man scored, and there was still nobody out. That probably took some wind out of the sails of pitcher Chad Billingsley — who was making his first big league appearance in more than two years — because he gave up a three-run homer to the next batter, Kelly Johnson.

It really wasn’t much of a game after that, though the Braves managed to tack on three more runs in the 7th when Dustin McGowan decided to walk the ballpark and Ryne Sandberg decided to let him keep doing it.

That was fun! Let’s do it again.

102 thoughts on “Braves 9”

  1. You think Hart and Fredi might be regretting the Cahill over Wandy decision after Wandy’s performance last night?

  2. @1 – I watched the Cards v Cubs last night. He made a terrific defensive play that would have been at least a double had it been hit to a mere mortal. The telecast on mlb network had the Cards broadcast team. Al Hrabosky is the color guy. Al said that Heyward is feeling more comfortable batting lower in the order and was coming around. For the most part of April the Cards had him batting second. Also mentioned that he should thrive with the Cards since he won’t feel the pressure to be ‘the guy’ for the offense. Right after that commentary he promptly rolled a weak grounder to second.

    Check this SI article out: http://www.si.com/mlb/2015/04/28/kris-bryant-david-ortiz-chicago-cubs

    It really puts our current offensive environment into context.

  3. In J-Hey’s last 14 games, he has a .346 OBP so in 1 aspect of his game, he is coming around. However, in those `14 games his OPS is still under .700 due to a lack of XBH (1 HR 1 2b).

  4. ‘you’re giving us that same old line
    i’m wondering why
    you leave us then
    you’re back again?
    no, no, no
    not a second time.’

  5. I think my favorite part of last night’s game was between innings they had the “hug cam” going and at the end of the segment they showed Freddy in the dugout… he kind of wandered around a bit, looked like he had no idea the camera was on him, then he tried to hug Fredi and Fredi freaked out! It was hilarious… Fredi was all “get off me!” while Freddy was all “awww man, you need a hug”. Comic gold by Freddy.

  6. Well, to be fair, if only one triple slash component’s going to be good, you want it to be OBP.

    Which makes it all the worse that Heyward’s OBP for all of 2015 is .275…still plenty early.

  7. @1, struggling is the polite way to say it. But he’s really not hitting at all.

  8. So, in a season where we don’t expect much, last night was the kind of nice surprise that makes watching the team worthwhile.

  9. I still think this team will be a .500 ballclub, but the key is keeping the platoons strict, that means:
    1. Jonny Gomes cannot continue to get spot starts against RHP.
    2. Callaspo needs to start getting starts at 3b against LHP.
    3. Braves need to rid themselves of repetitive ballplayers: Ciriaco and Gosselin have no spot on this team.
    4. Braves have to find a LH CFer to compliment Maybin.

  10. Y’know, I’m actually starting to decide that this is in fact what a .500 team looks like. Good one night, terrible another night, with no obvious correlations you can point out, not even pitchers. that doesn’t mean they can’t fall apart of course, like they did last year, but the last two weeks have me oddly optimistic, not about the playoffs (PLAYOFFS? You’re asking about PLAYOFFS?) but about not embarrassing themselves out there, at least not every night.

    I hadn’t seen ryan c post when i first posted this, but great minds….. From the grammar front, though:
    “4. Braves have to find a LH CFer to compliment Maybin.” Almost anybody could say: Nice hairdo you have there Mr. Maybin. Doesn’t have to be a left-hander, or even a fielder at all. Doesn’t even have to be on the team.

  11. I think that it isn’t impossible that their 13-14 record (and 13-14 Pythagorean record) more or less accurately captures this team’s talent. They’re 7-8 at home and 6-6 away; 10-12 in April and 3-2 in May; 13-13 in regulation and 0-1 in overtime; 4-6 in one-run games and 3-3 in blowouts.

    They are one of the weirder teams I’ve seen, in their ability to occasionally look dominant — like in the first week, or last night — and their ability to occasionally look like the redheaded stepchild of the 1989 Braves. But it is kinda fun to root for a team with absolutely no expectations that has the ability to pull a game like that out of nowhere.

  12. Well, prior to last night, Gomes was something like 6-11 against Billingsley, so if he is going to get an occasional start against RHers, then someone he has hit well in the past is the one you want.

  13. We are exactly 1/6 the way through the season, and we are 13-14.

    We’re one blown 8-run lead away from being over .500.

    We are on pace to win exactly 78 games, which is more than anyone predicted.

    Other things nobody predicted:

    We are 3rd in the NL in runs scored.

    We are 11th in the NL in runs allowed, well behind teams like Chicago and Arizona.

    Shelby Miller has unequivocally been our best pitcher.

    Cody Martin has unequivocally been our best reliever.

    AJP has been our best hitter.

    Kelly Johnson leads the team in home runs.

    Cameron Maybin is second on the team in OWAR despite playing only half the time.

  14. Not to burst people’s bubbles, but look at the schedule in June. Enjoy .500 while you can.

  15. Any news on Dian Toscano? I’m not sure how much he is needed right now, but we spent a lot of money on him.

  16. Moving Heyward for Miller looks like a steal so far.

    @3

    Where does he want to bat? Not first, second or third. Seventh? He is about to ask for $20 million dollars. I am not sure I would give over $8 for a defensive first right fielder who can only hit in the bottom half of the order. He basically Michael Tucker with a little more range.

  17. @16

    Last I read he was in the DR and once he established residence he could go to extended spring training.

  18. So Strasburg was yanked with shoulder discomfort, Rendon’s reinjured himself during rehab, and Werth has a “cranky” shoulder.

    They started the season looking like the 2011 Phillies. They’re starting to look like the 2012 Phillies.

  19. Don’t worry about Heyward. July 24-26 and October 2-4 he will go about 18 for 24 with 5 HR and 15 RBI’s.

  20. A real uplifting paragraph from Will Carroll’s latest UTK:

    In fact, sources tell me the Braves have all but written off Minor for at least this season. Shoulder injuries, especially multi-structure injuries, are very difficult to return from. Minor didn’t have a lot of margin, pitching on good velocity and command. Losing much of either would make him fringe at best. Minor joins a long line of injured Braves pitchers, but while the organization made big changes last year, they didn’t do anything with their pitching braintrust or how their medical staff is organized. At some point, results count and Minor is just the latest on a long list.

  21. The biggest disappointment with this team so far has to be the pitching staff. The bullpen is a mess. If Teheran has righted himself, we have two dependable starters. I think Wood will get it together, but so far he has not. Stults, Folty and Cahill are all big question marks. It is extremely difficult to see this team reach .500 without addressing the pitching weakness.

  22. I get that there is mistrust in the Braves medical staff. There is ample evidence that they are less than proficient. It seems like an epidemic and other teams seem to be suffering too, so do we lead MLB by a huge margin for injured pitchers?

    I think to stay at .500 or thereabouts Alex Wood is going to have to find himself.

  23. @17, 23 – Yeah, come on Smitty. Michael Tucker isn’t even on Jason Heyward’s top 10 similar players. He’s much more like Seth Smith, Matt Joyce and Wil Venable.

  24. A challenge to “the community.”

    How about considering taking 1 day a week to do recaps. Huh? Yes.

    Alex does a lot of good for this site and you need to do your part to help him.

  25. Last night I was off the internet, but getting the comment feeds (such is what happens when it is your posting to which comments are directed).

    But somebody asked about KJ’s nickname.

    Come on, give me this one, please.

    Right now, KJ is “insensed.”

  26. So Bryce Harper has 3 HRs in 3 ABs today was Washington. Glad I played him in my Fanduel.

  27. @27, Yeah, I should have been more specific, because I could give a damn about the Michael Tucker nonsense. Michael Tucker is funny as a concept, and no one can argue that Heyward is hitting well this year.

    It’s the batting order crap Smitty keeps bringing up, taking things said by journalists/commentators as if Heyward’s the one saying them and trying to turn him into some sort of whiny heel.

    Here’s what probably happened: The Cards traded for a high on-base guy with some speed and slotted him second–pretty logically. After a few weeks they started batting him in the lower half of the order, not because he made some sort of request that he’d be more comfortable there, but because you’ve got to be Fredi to bat a guy with a sub-.300 on-base percentage in the top half, and they have some guys who are hitting like they belong up there. So some color commentator is looking for something to talk about, wanders around the clubhouse, asks Jason Heyward if he’s feeling comfortable in the fifth spot. Jason says “yes” because if you’re not a prima donna you say you’re comfortable wherever the manager happens to be playing you on a given night, and because he needs to keep a positive outlook to try to turn things around. Color commentator then fills up some otherwise dead air telling everyone about it.

    Stop smearing him, Smitty. Or stick to smearing his hitting, where you have plenty of ground to stand on.

  28. Michael Tucker .256 BA .339 OBP .423 SLG .763 OPS 14 HR/Yr
    Jason Heyward .261BA .349 OBP .426 SLG .774 OPS 20HR/YR (he has actually only gone over 18 once)

    The difference is not as big as you might think.

  29. @19 — It sure was wise to shut him down for the playoffs so he’d be healthy when they were really trying.

    Poor old Anthony Varvaro keeps getting DFAed.

  30. @32 – On multiple occasions Heyward himself has said that he prefers hitting lower in the order. And during the spring alluded to hitting lead off for the Braves as one of the reasons he believes his power fell so much last season.

    I don’t think anyone should be surprised that he has sucked thus far. Heyward sports a shiny .225/.315/.407/.722 career April slash line.

  31. Toscano still isn’t close to being here and it sounds like it’ll be the ASB before it happens. The Braves won’t have to pay him anything until he gets here, and then it’ll be prorated.

  32. @37, 39 – here on Heyward Apologists Journal we don’t need to see that kind of stuff.
    So tired of talking about non-Braves…

  33. @41, you’ll have to talk to Sam and Smitty about setting the conversation

    @39, Thanks for the links. I stand somewhat corrected, although there’s a lot less of a tone of his airing grievances than there is of his good-naturedly responding to a reporter who’s looking for a good way to introduce the New Guy at the start of camp, and who had already figured out what tack to take from a prior talk with Matheny.

  34. April: .225/.315/.407 (.722)
    Overall: .261/.349/.426 (.774)

    That’s just a bunch of singles.

    He’s got a career OPS+ of 86 in April. That’s a REALLY far cry from the career 94 of May and 92 of September. (Not to mention the 100 of July and 104 of June.)

    Looking at that, it’s actually pretty misleading to imply that April brings Jason down, when we see monthly OPS+ numbers of 86, 92, 94, 100 and 104. How does he rate at a career 112 overall when for 5 out of the 6 months of the season he is below average or exactly average?

    Because it’s actually only the month of August that makes him look like a corner outfielder. He’s got a career 124 OPS+ in that month.

    So if it’s fair to say April is dragging him down, it’s fair to say August is propping him up. If he’s a slow starter, he’s also slow through the first turn, and the back straight-away, and slow through the finish. But corner 3, man he owns corner 3.

    And what have we learned by parsing his monthly performance? Nothing at all. Who cares what month it is? The games all count, and you gotta hit if you play RF.

  35. @LangoschMLB: Jordan Walden diagnosed with muscle strain; will require 6-10 weeks of rest (but no surgery) before resuming throwing program.

    This isn’t surprising. That trade is looking better

  36. Jordan Walden had a reputation of injury-proneness before we traded for him, which is part of why we were able to obtain him for Tommy Hanson — otherwise they never would have traded a former closer who threw in the upper 90s for a guy with a hamburger shoulder. Fredi, McDowell, and the training staff probably deserve some credit for keeping him healthy enough to throw 97 good innings in 2013-2014. But this is why trading relievers almost never comes back to bite you.

  37. The trade was always going to look like a “win” for us because the Cardinals were trying to win now and, tragically, had a gaping hole in RF. Their position on the win curve pushed them to “overpay” intentionally.

    Tyrell Jenkins has been quite bad. But it’s just that much sweeter how good Shelby Miller has been in addition to all the years of control we get…and, well, I love that we did this to the stupid Cardinals.

  38. @43, A 112 is a 112 is a 112. Who cares what month it is, indeed. A 112 says he can hit a little relative to his position.

    Would everything make more sense if Heyward was a centerfielder? Probably.

  39. I’ve seen people suggest that the jump from High-A to Double-A may be the hardest single level jump that a prospect has to make. I’m not nearly as worried about the results as I am about the health of his arm. It also looks like his minor league history suggests that he typically has repeated each level before advancing. He’s only 22, so if he can stay on the field, he’s got enough time to repeat both Double-A and Triple-A and he’ll still only be 25 or so when he’s called up.

  40. By all accounts AA’s where you first start to see guys you can regularly throw a curveball for strikes.

  41. Does anyone else think Glavine finds Caray tedious and/or annoying? His replies to Caray’s questions always feel like a verbal eye roll.

  42. I think it’s nice we can get Foltynewicz a tune-up start here before he has to face a major league line-up.

    @52, that might just be how he sounds talking to anybody–but I wouldn’t blame him if you’re right.

  43. The Phillies are tailor-made for Basil to excel against. It’s still good to see it happen.

  44. Major going out on a limb prediction: Foltynewicz throws the first Braves no-hitter since Mercker.

  45. I just looked it up, and Mercker threw 131 pitches in that no-hitter. He had 4 walks to go along with his 10 strikeouts. There probably isn’t a manager in baseball who’d let him finish it nowadays.

    Nice, Neck!

  46. This seems like a feast-or-famine type of offense, but it’s hard to say for sure because they’ve only played half a dozen different teams.

  47. Whatever minuscule value Ryan Howard seems to have come solely at the expense of the Atlanta Braves.

  48. If the other 29 teams just traded Howard to the Braves’ next opponent before every series, he’d earn his contract and then some.

  49. Jeff Francouer just hit a good breaking ball right back up the middle. Now I’ve seen everything.

  50. Important question regarding our new call up. Is Williams Perez also known as Bills?

  51. It’s amazing what can happen when you don’t swing and miss with 2 strikes

  52. The question is can he blow two in a row. Oh wait the Uggla bomb was a 2 run lead

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