Bullpen Walks Help Braves For Once

Happy to be back!

Last year’s recaps, trying to parallel the 2018 season with the 1966 season, was a lot of fun, but exhausting to actually do.  I still want to drop in old-time stuff this year, but I plan to be a little more serendipitous about it.

So I’ve watched the last two games on ESPN.  I’ve learned three things from the experience: 

  • David Ross is really gabby.  Many of his insights are fresh, but a lot of them are personal interest stories that are really uninteresting, like the time he tied Johan Camargo’s tie before Tim Hudson’s Braves HOF induction dinner.  The fact that he played a long time for both of these teams may be part of the problem.  He’s great when he calms down.
  • Tim Kurkjian has an annoying laugh and a long list of obscure records to relate (“Most career homeruns in the division series era without ever making a playoff appearance.” (It’s 462. Look it up.)  Other than that, he’s pretty good.
  • I miss Boog Sciambi  A lot.

This was Julio’s second start.  The Braves blew a chance in the first when Jason Heyward misplayed Ozzie Albies’ single into a leadoff triple, but nothing more.  Teheran’s second inning was a dink-and-dunk four singles allowed, but only one run scored owing to a caught stealing from speedster Kyle Schwarber.

In the third, both Dansby and Ozzie went oppo to take a 2-1 lead.  That’s two homers for Swanson in 5 games, so pencil him in for 60, assuming a few days off.  It was also the first opposite field home run of Dansby’s career.  Joe Simpson would have had an orgasm if it had just managed to stay in the park.

Then Teheran started being good Julio.  He got through the 5th with 91 pitches thrown, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts and 6 singles allowed, four of them in the second inning.  In came Venters who sandwiched a gigantic shot from William Contreras’ brother between two walks (including Jon Lester’s second walk of the game) to cede the lead.  A single from Heyward ended Jonny’s night. Wes Parsons came in and got Zobrist to hit a weak ball to left which almost led to Dansby breaking his wrist and struck out Bryant to end the inning.

The 7th was Biddle’s.  He was lucky to give up only one, which scored on a head-up dash home by Rizzo on a ball in the dirt.

Now we come to the 8th.  There were two miracles.  Miracle 1: a clean inning from Luke Jackson.  To be fair, it had a Heyward double play in it.  Miracle 2: some other team’s relievers start walking people.  Three straight from Cishek, followed by a bases-clearing double off Rosario for Camargo’s first hit of the year.  Johan then scores on a sac fly from Dansby.  Brad Brach walks two more guys to load the bases, but Freddie bounces out to end the inning.  There’s a lesson here, boys and girls.  If your relievers walk people it’s hard to hold leads.

Vizzy in for his first save opportunity against the heart of the order. Bryant: 5-3; BB to Rizzo on an extended at bat, Baez; K; Schwarber: K.  Easy peasey. Sweep tomorrow.

Fingers crossed for Bobby Cox.  

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

90 thoughts on “Bullpen Walks Help Braves For Once”

  1. Thanks for the recap. Just came back from SunTrust Park. Probably the most fun game I’ve ever been to. And the crowd was really into it. Lots of Cubs fans but our guys were louder – surprisingly. What a game for Albies and another HR for Swanson. Hope his hand is fine. Really gritty outing by Julio. Great comeback, great game, great evening. Go Braves!

  2. left right
    match them up every night
    did you forget
    right left, there’s no one else, sweat.

  3. Smitty, one of the Talking Chop writers said to another “show me your tiger face”, which apparently had nothing to do with Tiger Woods, so I think it was Eric Cole who changed it first. Then everyone followed suit. Pretty hilarious. Seemed like there may have been 1000+ that changed it.

  4. Looks like Bryse Wilson will be optioned and Minter activated. So they’ll have a big pen on Thursday and Friday, then someone either gets optioned or DFA’ed for Gausman to take Wilson’s spot on Saturday? Seems that way.

  5. @3 I’ve always interpreted that meme to express an “I’m in big trouble” sentiment. Tiger looks like he just found out his fiance is a flat-earther or something.

  6. Luke Jackson
    we must avoid the temptation to sound off the klaxon
    there are days it seems he can actually pitch
    clever you, in advance, you’ve figured out which.


    Kiley M and her team at FG have just posted a highly detailed and mind blowing assessment analyzing the value of International Signing bonus money, 1987 to present. The ROIs involved would make Croesus weep. Fun for you metricians, what thoughts follow?

  7. Acuna has been unlucky.

  8. I think WAR is miscalculating the exponentiating value of high innings totals. Julio was 37th in IP last year, and that many respectable innings means he’s considerably more valuable than his 0.7 fWAR suggests. WAR needs to acknowledge that simply being a reliable SP that can make 30+ respectable starts is extremely valuable in today’s game.

  9. To follow up on that, it’s almost like the discrepancy between team pitching WAR and team ERA. Atlanta was 14th in pitching fWAR last year; 7th in team ERA. Since fWAR weighs more heavily peripheral stats (BB/9, HR/9, H/9), then our poor pitching peripherals weigh us down (we were 29th in BB/9, as an example). But we look at peripheral stats as an indicator of future performance. After all, if a pitcher pitches a shut out, do we really care if he had 0 walks or 4? He did what he did. So when you have a large body of work (1450 IP, just like everyone else), then why isn’t ERA the key stat? Ultimately, how did you do? At that point, with such a large body of data, it really doesn’t matter how many hitters we walked; we were 7th-best in keeping runs off the board, and that’s the bottom line. You can take that a step forward and just look at runs allowed average as the ultimate litmus test of run prevention, which is the purpose of having good pitchers on the hill and good defenders in the field.

  10. @17

    You’re absolutely right, Rob, but good luck convincing some folks of it.

    I seem to remember a season after which a bunch of people on here claimed Tommy Hanson (RIP) had a better year than Tim Hudson, despite the fact that Hudson had a better ERA and run totals for the completed year, because Hanson’s FIP and other peripherals were better. So essentially, Hanson had a better year because he’d be projected to be better going forward into the rest of the year that had already ended. It was nuts IMO.

    The Team Peripherals folks just do not want to use ERA ever. If your peripherals are better than that guy’s over there, then you “should’ve been” better, therefore you were.

  11. To me, this question boils down to: how much do you want the goodness of your pitching staff to rely on your non-pitching defense? In the abstract, hell no, be your own man and strike out all the bums. In reality, right now, I see Dansby and Ender, and I don’t particularly care.

  12. At least we can all agree that whether you use ERA, FWAR, or ZWAR, Luke Jackson is not a good pitcher.

  13. Should have said AWAR to ZWAR with everything in between. Iow, he’s bad by any measure.

  14. I’m not so sure that walks are always bad. “Effectively wild” is still a thing, especially when guys are throwing so hard. If I walk 4, and there’s no balls in play that are even hit hard, then I did pretty good (see Sean Newcomb every now and then).

    Obviously walks are worse than outs, but there’s a totality-of-the-whole performance argument to be made here…maybe. I’m still not sure how to properly express this.

  15. 17-I’ve had a thought lately that it’s really hard to say what effect a good pitch framer has on a pitching staff. On the one hand, it’s not like umps don’t know who has a reputation as a good framer and they may adjust accordingly, but the numbers would bear that out.

    The more you think about it, wouldn’t you expect to have better than the 29th ranked BB/9 rate if you have one of the elite framers like Flowers catching many of your games? Well, what if having a good framer conditions your pitchers to stay off the plate, thinking, hey this has been called a strike before, it should be again. So they keep nibbling just a bit outside the zone, searching for those stolen strike calls that Flowers have gotten them.

    Just a thought.

  16. Why the native WordPress comments system doesn’t have an animated GIFs keyboard is beyond me..

  17. If the staff base walk rate is “far and away the worst in the game by large margins” and a good framing catcher moves them to 29th, he’s doing a great job even though they’re still near the bottom of the league lists.

  18. @23 I do think that bWAR gets closer to weighing these pitcher contributions to position player contributions, without a doubt. I just feel like I may be compromising the integrity of the data if I use bWAR for pitchers and fWAR for position players.

    Plus, Fangraphs is easier to sort WAR data than B-Ref. In fact, I don’t even know how to sort stats on B-Ref.

  19. “Effectively wild” is a thing, but ultimately, no command is no command, and it’s really hard to succeed over the long term when you keep handing out free baserunners, and sometimes when you miss, you miss in the middle of the zone.

  20. Effectively wild is kind of a 1 game, game to game thing. All of your pitchers can’t be effectively wild, nor can they all be all season. They will break and they will break badly.

  21. Plenty of closers are effectively wild – for 1 inning. I think Newk might kinda be that way as well. “Effectiveness” may vary though, lol.

  22. @35 Then I would recommend not using WAR across positions and that will eliminate your contamination worry. I could be wrong about this, but WAR is really only good within the context of the position it’s derived from, ie. Don’t compare Johan Camargo’s 3 WAR to Dallas Kuechel’s 3 WAR. I like to just compare player WAR’s at any given position, or else you end up in scenarios where Freddie Freeman might not be considered as good as Jason Heyward because of defensive opportunities, etc.

    1 WAR means different things from one position to another, and I firmly believe that.

  23. And yes, I understand positional adjustments are made in most/all WAR formulas, but I just think it can’t be helped that some positions are just not as defensively critical as others, and that’s why the big bats tend to move to 1B. Then when you take into consideration the pitch framing adjustment made to fWAR for catchers, is anyone really going to bank on that 4+ WAR for Tyler Flowers as opposed to say 5 WAR out of a guy like Freddie Freeman? It just seems so skewed when you compare those across positions.

  24. Trevor Bauer no-hitter through 7. With 6 walks. Effectively wild indeed. 117 pitches.

  25. Yeah, uh, Contreras completely blocked the plate and you’re really not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to sweep tag.

    The whole reason you’re not supposed to fully block the plate is that’s how catchers get wiped out — like when Posey got injured a few years ago, leading to the rule.

  26. Agreed. He was obviously blocking the plate. Our announcers made it sound like the Braves didn’t challenge that aspect of the call. But they can’t know that, can they?

  27. We probably won’t know until after the game if they were challenging the lane to the plate or the tag.

  28. I wish Folty would put on some weight, but man, I’m excited for his year.

  29. Regardless of how you feel about Tomlin and Jackson, the Braves clearly want to continue to evaluate them. And a 5-run lead is a good time, but pouring rain is a bad time. So do you stick them in the game and hold a poor performance against them?

  30. Nick is having a helluva game today. He hasn’t skipped a beat since last season hitting with runners on base.

  31. I know it’s irrational, but I hate how the broadcast put “PERFECT THROUGH 5” and then “PERFECT THROUGH 5 1/3” etc down in the corner of the screen during that last inning. That just felt like tempting fate way too closely.

  32. Max is my favorite. I have always insisted he belongs in the rotation and he’s sure proving it tonight. Has any Braves starter pitched that well since Newk’s near no-hitter??? How many walks did he give up….. NONE. Better to be effectively effective instead of effectively wild.

    Someday, Fried will be our ace and we’re going to wonder why we ever had any doubts.

  33. Good thing about Fried is that because of his blisters, there is just not a ton of mileage on his arm. He’s not pitched more than 100 IP in any year: 103 in 2016, 92 in 2017, and 78 last year. With that said, that also might place a low innings limit on him this year.

    Five hits for Kakes! I’m telling ya, he was raking in Spring Training. You guys have really pissed him off. Good work.

  34. Maximum’s delivery is so smooth and repeatable. And that curve and change are so sneaky, he just blew his fastball past these guys. That’s pitching.

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