Braves 7, D-Backs 4

Just when it seemed like all hope was lost, Matt Kemp came through in the 8th with a bases-clearing double to help the Braves earn one of those “W” things that have become rather rare in recent weeks. Kemp’s late heroics helped to mask the fact that the Braves stranded an alarming number of runners over the first seven innings and appeared to be running headlong toward yet another defeat.

After the Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Rob Whalen couldn’t make it out of the 3rd. He was pulled after giving up four runs, and the Braves found themselves in a two-run deficit. They were able to get one of those runs back the following inning, but the stranding runners tactics the offense fell into kept the game at 4-3 for awhile.

Kemp’s double in the 8th finally broke the offensive frustrations on the night and put the Braves on top, and a Dansby Swanson sac fly in the 9th provided a little icing on the cake and allowed the Braves to emerge victorious by a 7-4 score.

A huge shoutout goes to the Braves bullpen, who allowed only three hits in 6.1 innings and held the D-Backs scoreless to keep the Braves in the game. Jose Ramirez and Mauricio Cabrera both struck out the side in their inning of work, and Ramirez was rewarded for his efforts with the win.

The Braves have mastered the whole “keep ourselves in the game” attitude, but with rallies that fall just short of being able to be called comebacks. This was one of those pleasant Blind Squirrel/Nut games, where they were able to complete the comeback and actually emerge victorious. It’s nice they’re able to mix things up a bit, every now and then.

95 thoughts on “Braves 7, D-Backs 4”

  1. Whalen has blown past his career high innings pitched and he looks like a tired pitcher losing control like he has been

  2. @104 from last thread – it’s wayyyyyyy too early to call the Braves’ starting pitcher prospects (Wisler, Folty, Perez, Whalen, Blair, etc) “back end starters at best”. Folty has top of rotation stuff and at various times this season looked like he was starting to put it all together. Blair, Wisler and Whalen have middle to back of rotation stuff but were really successful in the minors; we haven’t seen enough of them to say that they can’t make it work at the MLB level. Of those three, I feel like Wisler is the most likely to stick at the MLB level.

    Folty’s got plenty of room for growth and I think he’ll put up some good, mid-rotationy numbers for the 2017 Braves. Sean Newcomb will likely be ready for some MLB exposure by some time next year, though he may have a rough adjustment period like Folty did. Lucas Sims may also get a shot – he has a 10+ K/9 in AA/AAA this year (another good stuff/ poor control guy). Beyond that, you’ve got Patrick Weigel, Michael Mader and Max Povse in AA who may also be contributors to the 2017 Braves.

    It’s hard to project any one of the Braves’ pitching prospects to be a likely/certain top of the rotation pitcher, but TINSTAAP is a thing for a reason. I suspect the Braves will bring in 1-2 reclamation projects at SP and a few at RP next year, but the future of the Braves’ pitching staff is, in all likelihood, already in the organization now.

  3. @2 – Excellent post and insight. Others, please don’t accuse me of comparing Glavine and Maddux to any of our prospects, but what put them into the Hall of Fame was control. Control is also what often separates a minor league wash-out from a top tier starter. The simple fact is we don’t know who among our prospects (if any), will develop the kind of control needed to thrive at the ML level. While we don’t know who those guys will be, I think it is a good bet that of the many prospects listed above, at least two will stick at the ML level.

    As noted, we’re going to need help from most likely two pitchers outside of the organization next year to get to an average rotation. It is anyone’s call from 2018 and beyond on who will develop into useful ML pitchers. It’s definitely too early to say everyone is a bust.

  4. These guys have, on average, about 15 starts under their belts apiece. Sadly, we just don’t know what we don’t know.

    I did sense a lot of fatigue from Whalen last night. That third inning was brutal to watch. Too bad I went to bed before the fireworks.

  5. Sims and Newcomb have elite stuff. They should be the ones pitching these garbage innings and getting experience. It’s probably going to take a year of growing pains for them. Hopefully one of them figures it out. If we only get one legit starter out of the Folty/Sims/Newcomb trio then there’s no choice but to spend all the money on starting pitching.

    Of all the “suspects” that are close to MLB-ready, those are the ones that I’m counting on the most.

  6. Both Sims and Newcomb are probably approaching innings limits, there really is no rush here, and Sims flat-out doesn’t deserve the call. There’s something to be said for making the high-potential guys earn it.

  7. Oh- I forgot about Gant! I’d put him in the same general group with Wisler, Blair, Whalen group that look like their reasonable ceiling is mid- or back- end starter.

    It’s frustrating as hell to see all of our prospects struggle at the MLB level this year, but keep in mind that nearly every pitching prospect has a hard time at first, with notable exceptions like Jose Fernandez, Noah Syndergaard, Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey. It’s hard to stay patient and maintain perspective, and I get venting about things, but man, the wild swings from PROSPECT OPTIMISM! to DOOOOM! (and back) on here are a bit hard to take.

  8. It feels like maybe Braves fans are conflating all the rookie starters in to one guy. As if they aren’t 10 different guys individually trying to figure it out, but rather it’s the same guy starting every night and he’s like 150 starts into his career and he should really be better by now.

    Whalen can’t be good right away just because you sat through Wisler’s struggles already.

  9. I’d say calling up Sims would be lower risk. Obviously, he hasn’t earned it, but he’s gotten his share of experience in the high-minors. As a guy who is slowly falling out of prospect status, could be fun.

    I’d like to see De La Rosa get a win though, he might not be in the majors again. Not a ton feel good about, so that would be nice at least.

  10. It’s easy to lose sight of this, but keep in mind that Sims is younger than Newcomb and has advanced faster.

  11. IMO, the problem with our pitching prospects that have debuted these last few years is that they were NEVER by any expert prospect analyzer to have a ceiling of a top of the rotation starter.

    Wisler and Blair’s ceiling was mid-rotation.
    Gant, Whalen, and Tyrell’s ceiling was back-end.
    Folty is the one guy that nobody could pinpoint and most said he could range from a front-line starter to back-end bullpen guy, control pending.

    Many forget this due to the nature of their rankings, and maybe we should look at thinking about ranking by ceiling, not by proven stats at a higher level (no matter the mediocrity). For this reason, I never understood Wisler or Blair’s rankings.

    These guys all have a higher ceiling than the above: Anderson, Muller, Wentz, Allard, Newcomb, Weigel, Sims. From there, it’s a tier down no matter their current numbers. Example: Soroka is getting some recognition but should be looked at similarly to Wisler/Blair as he doesn’t have a projectible plus-plus pitch.

    However, even mentioning all of the above, none of our guys have been tabbed “front-line starter” (or at least that I’ve seen), rather a number 2-3.

  12. -ryan c: I had thought that Soroka was in the higher ceiling group also but trust your view is more informed. one prospect of note you left out: what about Fried?

  13. @11, This.

    More absolute rankings of prospects’ tools, less relative rankings of prospects against each other — and less relative rankings of our farm system against others.

    Also more inclusion of K/BB totals in a given prospect’s stat line if that’s what we’re going to do, and less of this earned runs stuff. We’re past that, especially in the minors.

  14. @12
    I was hasty when typing at number 11 and left off Fried, but his ceiling was stated at #2 starter.

    And aside from Ben Chase over at TT, I haven’t seen anything that has Soroka as a front-line guy.

  15. @13
    I really tried to do this in my rankings this year and disregard players with lower ceilings (but closer to bigs) until the 20-30 range. Looking back, I feel like I succeeded with 1 player being an exception: Mauricio Cabrera.

    My ranking for Touki might be low (16) as well, but his k/bb rate just doesn’t warrant anything higher for now, IMO.

  16. Its pretty foolish to speak of things like “ceilings” and “floors” as any kind of absolute. Ceilings and floors are reevaluated as players rise through the system. So what evaluation would we call “official?” When do we cast the “ceiling” and “floor” of a player in stone? On draft day? After their pro-debut? After their full-season-ball debut? Once they reach High-A?

    Guys close to the majors a) have had their “ceilings” reevaluated according to their performance against stiffer competition, and b) have seen their floors rise as they’ve become more likely to reach the majors. Any C-grade AAA prospect will have the floor of replacement-level, at least. That can’t be said of just any 17 year old in low-A.

    If you ignore proximity to the majors in ranking prospects, and rank only on ceilings, your list will be almost exclusively A-ball players. You will necessarily be selecting for low-minors players because everyone’s best-case-scenario is higher before they’ve faced a major-league average breaking ball. At some point you have to follow with ‘how could can they be,’ with ‘how likely is that to happen.’

  17. I’m very bullish on Soroka. In my book, he’s behind only Newcomb, Allard, and Anderson in the Braves’ system.

  18. @16 I think that’s a massive issue with most prospect lists. People have a hard time weighing the probability against the upside. The sky is the limit for Touki, but he will probably provide less value than Jenkins over his career.

  19. I just want someone who can pitch 6 innings. Is that too much to ask after 3 losing seasons?

  20. @16, 18, most prospect lists do try to take ceiling vs floor into account. For example, our highest ceiling belongs to Kevin Maitan, but he’s not our top prospect. But ceiling will always skew ratings because a guy who has a chance to be an ace (Toussaint) is probably worth more than a guy who might be a middle reliever (Jenkins), even though the latter is far more likely to reach that modest “ceiling”.

    @19, yes, all this talk of “back end starter” has me yearning for any of these guys to actually start to look like a fifth starter. I’m totally OK with Teheran, Folty, and 3 fifth starters next year.

  21. Its one thing to just survive in the majors long enough to have a career, but wholly another to actually contribute toward winning a pennant, etc.

    Early returns are that I may have been wrong about Dansby, although I just don’t like players with little power, but I doubt I’m wrong about these pitchers. Everyone one of them that have pitched in Atlanta have little to no upside. Folty has some quality stuff but I just don’t see it. The rest are nothings, that we have seen in Atlanta this season.

  22. @16, I don’t disagree with your point, but if you’re going to give people your estimation of where a prospect stands in writing, either you bear down and do it or you equivocate and caveat to the point where your writing resembles Peanut’s.

  23. Ceilings are floors are nonsensical terms that really mean “tools”. Absolute scales for “tools” are also debatable, but in general the better the tools, the higher the ceiling.

    Newcomb has measurable high-end tools (or stuff, or whatever term you like best). Plus fastball with effortless delivery, good breaking stuff. High ceiling, limited only by command.

    On the other end of the spectrum a somewhat recent example would be Kris Medlen. Nothing in his “toolset” jumps out at you, but his command and movement are/were excellent. He would be given a lower ceiling early on, even though his apex in MLB is probably better than all of our existing prospects will be.

    I totally get why we have ceiling and floor and whatnot, but with pitching especially you have things that are hard to measure absolutely – command, movement, deception, etc.

    The hope is that the guys with the electric stuff will figure out the other aspects. That’s why they dominate the draft lists.

  24. Wisler has been removed as tonight’s starter at Gwinnett. He probably starts tomorrow.

  25. @22
    I agree with this. And I think (at least from studying these past 3-4 years) that ceilings/floors are constantly in-flux dependent upon success as a prospect’s promoted. Sure, they get an initial stamp on draft day, but that alters pretty quickly after the first exposure to pro ball. Where it stops is at MLB promotion.

    And in the Braves case, yes. The top-10 should be chock full of guys at Low-A and below, but that’s not the case for all farms. In fact, the LAD’s top prospects have maintained their value and are still atop their lists.

    If the ceiling of a prospect is altered, no matter where it happens, it should be reflected in the rankings. Albies has stayed atop my list from Day 1 and stays there because he’s kept his A-status at AA.

  26. I don’t ever remember a time in Braves history where there was so much attention and visibility on new draftees and guys in the low minors. We’re so starved for something positive that we forget that these guys are less than 20 years old and haven’t ever faced the competition levels they are up against. Don’t freak out when a pitcher dominates the GCL and then gets lit up in Danville. Don’t freak out of a hitter hits .150 for a month after a promotion. Do freak out of the poor performance lasts a whole season – but even then not all is lost.

    I do agree that Albies is our best prospect because he’s proven it on the field, even if he doesn’t win the toolsy/ceilings beauty contests. My only doubt there is the same with every other low-power speed guy – that high BABIP will not transfer to the highest level because MLB defense is so damn good. The good thing for Albies is that he knocks the snot of the ball, he’s not just a bunch of seeing-eye grounders.

  27. Also, there has been an influx of elite talent in the last few years in the MLB. Seager, Correa, Trout, Harper, Arenado, Machado, Betts, Bryant. All 8 of these guys are 25 or under and are arguably in the top 10 players in baseball (and Altuve is 26).

    We don’t have anybody like those guys, and it’s hard not to be envious! If there’s a guy like this in our system, he ain’t above low-A. Swanson and Albies project to be merely above average.

  28. @20 I don’t think they adjust nearly enough. There’s a real possibility that Jenkins is solid starter, and some value is virtually guaranteed. I feel like scouts feel more comfortable when they can poke holes in the guy’s stuff.

    Of course, the people making prospect lists probably catch a hell of a lot more flack for missing on stars so they might be doing exactly what they should.

  29. Krussell @27, i think it is also the availability of such information which has made it exciting. In the 80’s the only source of minor league info was the magazine Talking Chop or whatever it was. And yeah, I subscribed as a Braves fan in NJ because it was the only way to learn about the whole organization.

    The reading was not that exciting.

  30. @30, without a doubt the information age has made being a prospect-hawk more exciting. I think we all secretly want to be that guy that can say “I told y’all about PlayerA before he even hit rookie ball, I called it!”

  31. Don’t want to give Dansby too many AB’s and have him lose rookie status before 2017 starts. If he breaks out next year with a monster season the FO will never hear the end of it if he’s not eligible for ROY due to garbage AB’s in 2016.

    Likely scenario? Not really. But why take that chance.

  32. Let’s go to SunTrust Park, Georgia
    with Whalen and Wisler and the boys.
    This constant rosterbation’s got us
    feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys.

  33. If he’s tired there’s plenty of other jobs out there, pro baseball may not be for him.

    Seriously they are just managing his ABs, don’t read too much into it.

  34. Also of note for Swanson’s days off — they’ve been against Scherzer and now Greinke. Probably not a coincidence.

  35. Pro ball plays a lot more games than college. It’s his first year in pro ball, so they are easing him into the schedule. This shouldn’t be hard to understand.

  36. I saw footage of a Tebow BP session. Beer league bat speed. I’m unaware of anybody taking 10 years off from baseball and succeeding as a hitter, ever.

  37. Frenchy actually to the Marlins. Three team deal. We got something call Dylan Moore from Texas

  38. Interesting

    Source: #Rangers and #Braves have made a trade. Minor-league SS Dylan Moore heading to ATL.

    .263/.377/.440 14 HR 40 SB

  39. Moore doesn’t show up in any prospect lists and is a little old for A ball. But those are good numbers still

  40. LOL. Great trade! Anyone who hits 14 HR instantly becomes one of the best power bats in our system…

  41. It really just doesn’t do anything for me anymore to see some player traded for nothing. Anfernee Seymour is nothing. Dylan Moore is nothing. These guys will never play in the major leagues. Will I miss Jeff Francoeur? No. Will Jeff Francoeur help us win anything? No. Are we going to miss the playoffs because of Jeff Francoeur? No.

    But I’m going to turn on the television again and see some dude that has no business in the major leagues, and I’m really just tired of it. I’ve enjoyed the rebuild process, if you can believe it, and it has been enlightening to learn more about a major league baseball franchise as a result of the rebuild. But if the farm system was this bad, that we have to trade for Anfernee Seymour and Dylan Moore to replenish everything that was lost by the big, bad Frank Wren, then this falls on JS. I mean, seriously? Our farm was so bad that we have literally spent every player not nailed down trying to rebuild it? Like, we can’t even hold onto Frenchy? Poor ole Frenchy! And we’re not done yet? We haven’t accumulated enough assets to be better? I guess my expectations for August 2016 at this stage of the rebuild are too high. Ya know, like, maybe one pitching prospect would be decent? Uno?

    At any rate, it is interesting that this trade signals that they may be able to use their slot money to acquire even more assets. Could they bunch up all of their pool money that they can’t spend to get one decent prospect? Or maybe even a, gasp, actual major league baseball player that is worth turning on the TV for?

  42. Oh wait, we’re good. We also got a catcher named Matt Foley. Great. Now we’re getting guys who live in a van down by the river. GREAT!

  43. Shae Simmons has pitched at AAA on 8/19, 8/21, 8/23, 8/24. Uhh, can we have him now? According to the broadcast, no Braves starter has pitched more than 6 IP in all of August. We could use some help back there.

  44. Rob we’ve worked damn hard for this next draft’s pool money. This is not the time to put too many decent players on the field at once. Maybe when our magic number is in single digits…

  45. I meant the slot money for finishing dead last. Sorry, was busy trying to wrap my head around the three-team trade for Chris Farley.

  46. LOL @ anyone complaining about trading Jeff Francouer. I got it when it was Juan Uribe–he was actually a very good player. We just traded a replacement level backup left fielder for guys that have an outside chance to play in the bigs. Giddy up

  47. @58, I’m totally with you on being tired of giving away players. Trading vets for legit prospects = ok. Trading them for no-hopers = done with that. With that said, I kind of like Moore. He is old for A but has only been in MiLB for 1.5 seasons, has hit everywhere he’s been, and can play anywhere on the field. Who knows if it’ll translate but he looks like someone who at least has a shot. Different from some of the 26 YO low-A MR types we’ve seen in the past, maybe.

  48. I’m not sure how Coppy pulled this one off. Moore looks like a legit hitter and could be a good pickup. Dave Cameron had a pretty good line: “It’s 2016 and people are still purposely trading for Jeff Francoeur.”

  49. Sorry, I just can’t get all riled up over trading a replacement level outfielder for anything – even if the anything is never likely to play in the Show. Frenchy had a 0% chance to help us in our next winning season, and the two suspects we got have what? – MAYBE a 1% chance? – I’d say it’s a net positive, even if it’s a 99% ‘Meh.’ deal.

  50. BTW if Whalen is to be shut down for the year, is there any reason not to put him on the 60-day DL rather than 15? Would free up a spot on the 40-man roster.

  51. I think all the 60 day DL guys have to be put BACK on the 40 Man at the end of the season – which wouldn’t help us with the Prospect Crunch. Or am I wrong about that?

  52. Yes, there is no DL in the off-season. So everyone on the 60-day will need to be re-added to the 40-man or waived to be removed.

    I suppose there must be a deadline for such a thing, but I don’t know it. Anyway, I wonder if many teams will be moving players around all at once, dealing with their own problems, thus making it easier to sneak players off the 40-man. I imagine most teams won’t have the kind of crunch the Braves will have, though.

  53. Regarding the 40-man roster crunch:

    There’s 40 active players when Snyder’s contract is purchased, plus 6 on the 60-day.

    I count 18 controllable players you’d have to convince me there’s a good reason to keep, plus 4 guys that I believe will be FA’s, and even if I’m wrong I don’t care if they go. That leaves 24 guys I think are worth keeping. So, in my opinion, the Rule-5 guys should be easy to protect.

  54. Smitty, I have been marveling over Freddie’s career year but not wanting to jinx. Last I checked, which was yesterday, Freddie had the 2nd highest WAR of any 1B in MLB, behind only Anthony Rizzo and not by much. He is also among the top 15 position players in WAR and among the top 10 players in OPS in all of baseball. And this is mostly happening despite being “protected” by Francouer and Markakis.

    Did anyone think on June 1 that Freddie would turn in a career year?

  55. Freddie Freeman

    before June 12th: .242/.336/.414 (.750), 262 PA, 9 HR, 10 2B, 1 3B

    after June 12th: .332/.432/.676 (1.108), 285 PA, 17 HR, 22 2B, 5 3B

    44 extra-base hits in 285 plate appearances. Hoaly smoaks.

  56. Anybody that thinks the last five weeks of this loser of a season require Jeff Franceour so much that the Braves are stupid to flip him for not one but two upgrades on our minor league talent base is someone I can’t take seriously. The only tragedy is this didn’t happen sooner, but Jeffy’s play honestly didn’t really warrant any team other than the worst in the majors employing him. Thank God for Marlins injuries and desperation…

  57. @84, agreed. The only thing that sucks about the 40-man is that we won’t be able to add half of the M-Braves roster this September. I expect we’ll be disappointed with the call ups. May not see Newcomb and Peterson. Instead we’ll see Bonifacio.

  58. @58

    While I share your general frustration, I don’t find the Francoeur trade the slightest bit noteworthy. We could very easily sign him back for the start of next season, a la Kelly Johnson, and there was zero chance that a waiver trade involving Jeff Francoeur was going to bring back anything of major league caliber. Might as well get some lotto tickets out of that and sign him in the offseason, if that’s really what we want to do. Plus, he now gets to be on a playoff contender for a little while. Also, I no longer care about this year (and for the record, never expected anything out of this year), it’s next year I’m antsy about. So whatever…

  59. It blew my mind the other night when I watched Freddie hit his 24th homer and Chip chimed in that it was his career high. Neither my brain nor my gut was prepared for that fact.

  60. @91

    Rob mentioned above that he was wondering why Shae Simmons hasn’t been called up, but I was listening to the game on the radio last night and Jim and Don were aggressively downplaying the possibility of Simmons being called up in September. So I wouldn’t really expect to see him, either. Though they acted like he wasn’t on the 40-man, and he is. It’s not like they’d have to make space for him.

    I’m no longer really convinced that they’ll even find a spot for Albies, though I don’t know why they wouldn’t.

    On the plus side for you, Bonifacio is not on the 40-man, so maybe that’ll be your saving grace on that one.

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