Sleepwalking for 7: Milwaukee 5, Braves 4

[Note to readers: my 12 paragraph disquisition (and accompanying Petrarchan sonnet) on optimal ordering policy at The Varsity has been excised out of respect for blazon.]

Earl Weaver’s most famous quote is “The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” The Braves have had a nice selection of three run homer games lately and seem to have combined them with pitching and fundamentals.  How important are 3 run homers?  Teams that hit a three run homer in a game win 77% of them.  By contrast, teams that hit at least one solo homer win only 57% of the time.  Perhaps more interesting, teams that hit three solo homers (thereby equating the total run effect) only win 69 percent of their games, so a three run homer is somehow more efficacious than three solo shots.  To be fair, teams that hit at least one grand slam win 86 percent of the time.  But games with 3 run homers are 4.6 times more likely than grand slam games, so waiting for grand slams is a difficult managing position.

Coming into this season, the Braves have done even better, converting 80 percent of their three run homer games into wins and 90 percent of their grand slam games.  But the Braves have been playing so well lately that I felt the need to start with some humility: the Atlanta Braves in fact have lost one game in their history in which they hit 2 three run homers.  Not only that, the two three run homers were both hit by Rafael Furcal (2 of the 9 three-run homers he hit in his career.)  It was just over 15 years ago, July 9th, 2004.  Furcal’s two dingers were all the runs that the Braves got in a 7-6 loss to the Phillies, as Smoltz blew the save in the 9th on a homer from the Dark Lord and El Pulpo gave up a run in the 10th.  Earl was correct: you need pitching too.  That game dropped the Braves to 43-42, but they went 53-24 the rest of the season, so maybe blowing a game like that is good for you.

Recap time – (blazon, make sure to send me the bill for the time it took you to get to here.)  No three run homers today.  The rubber match found Keuchel against Chase Anderson.  It was a day game, as I discovered when I awoke from my afternoon nap to discover the game was over.  But at least now I’m woke. 

I didn’t know there was a day game and the Braves apparently didn’t either.  Anderson tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-hit ball.  Nap before the game, boys!  Do as I say, not as I do!  We fell behind on an error by Donaldson and a homer from Piña in the 2nd .  In the 6th, Keuchel stumbled with a reverse-cycle inning: homer, triple, double, single.  They pulled him then, which is odd because he was doing better with each succeeding hit.  Sobotka and Tomlin finished the rest of the game uneventfully.

It only then remained to be seen whether the Braves could spot five runs and pull off a miracle rally.    Close, but no cigar… maybe some sort of electric vaping cigar or something.  Yet another homer by Donaldson following a Freeman walk got us on the board in the eighth.  But Milwaukee had the vaunted Hader in the 9th, who has been unhittable ever since he left SNL.  And make it interesting they did.  Bloop pinch hit singles from Folk Heros Culberson and Joyce got the tying run to the plate.  But RAJ fouled out and Dansby pounded one to center that was caught.  And there the game should have ended, but Milwaukee then chose to take a quick snooze.    A 3rd strike to Freddie evaded Piña who then overthrew Aguilar at first for another run.  Donaldson promptly singled to make it 5-4, but Albies struck out swinging on three straight 158 kph fastballs (us woke folk use the metric system.)  One run short.

Back to Atlanta, and the gNats.  Not DOOMED, but Wake!

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.

116 thoughts on “Sleepwalking for 7: Milwaukee 5, Braves 4”

  1. Fine recap, but it would that much better with the Varsity ordering tome. I feel deprived.

  2. On my birthday, I don’t feel like working, so I’m grateful it was a day game. But I wish they had celebrated it a tick better.

  3. Thanks everyone!

    From last thread, RE: Riley

    There’s been enough sample to say that he isn’t necessarily meriting a spot every day in the lineup. As Game, Blauser said, he’s below replacement level in the past month.

    With that said, if you’re winning 11 straight series and you’re sitting at the top of your division by 6 games, then you can afford to let a rookie work through his struggles without sitting him. I do think, though, they should at least be looking to give one of his starts to Camargo. In the last two weeks, Camargo has 10 PAs. Of course, we had an All-Star break in there. But it’s 6 less than Tyler Flowers, 2 more than Matt Joyce, and 4 more than Dallas Keuchel.

    And yes, I also agree with Game, Blauser that Ender will be starting a good bit when he returns.

  4. “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit. Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

  5. “He was doing better with each succeeding hit.” Great line Jonathan. I had to chuckle.

  6. Great recap, JonathanF. Happy Birthday, Rob. Silver linings to a disappointing game.

  7. I have said something like this before but I find it ironic and interesting (not in a good way) that the three outs in the 9th inning rally were made by Acuna, Swanson, and Albies – our three younger stars. Compared to how JD is upping his game, I am concerned that, come playoff time, the young guns may not be able to crank it up. Hopefully, I’m worrying over nothing but it’s not the first time we’ve seen a game where the only hits came from the veterans (in this case McCann and Donaldson).

    We are also entering the time of year where additional rest for the starters will really become critical.

  8. Happy birthday, Rob. Life gets better as you age. Enjoy.

    Thank you, Jonathan.

    Let’s win one for Rob today, Braves.

  9. @8 If the Braves agree with us that Riley might not merit an everyday starting spot right now, what direction do they take?
    (a) give starts against righty pitchers to Ender (or Camargo), with Riley available as a PH threat;
    (b) send him back to AAA, on the theory that a promising young player needs everyday reps; or
    (c) continue starting him anyway in the hopes that he gets his plate discipline issued ironed out soon?

  10. Sounds like Kyle Wright may get the start tonight moving Julio back to Friday and Soroka Saturday. Who knows on Sunday, probably Mike Minor or Trevor Bauer.

  11. @17,

    I have been and continue to be a Riley supporter. I think long term he is a 260 / 340 / 500 3B with average overall fielding.

    For now, Braves have to activate Ender on Sunday. We need to either (a) operate down one pitcher or (b) drop, option or dfa a position player. Braves COULD option Camargo to give him 10 days of regular play to get his hitting stroke timed up again. They could want to avoid that. Otherwise, you have to do (a) or (c) trade or DFA Culberson or Joyce. So, I think for at least a little while, you operate down a pitcher. Do that by bringing Wright up Thursday and optioning him back. Then, activate Gausman Sunday and send a reliever down. Then with Monday and Thursday off, maybe send a pitcher down before Friday’s game.

    More germane, Riley doesn’t have much to learn in AAA but this team is competing for (i) a division and (ii) first round avoidance of LA Dodgers. So, until we SUBSTANTIALLY clinch those, Riley needs to platoon. And Ender and Markakis need to each sit every other lefthander.

    Really optioning Camargo is almost necessary to make everything else work unless we trade Ender.

  12. I think Wright goes down and they carry 3 SPs until Sunday (Julio, Dallas and Soroka). This allows for a 5 man bench and a 9!-man bullpen. One of the pen guys goes down Sunday for whoever gets the Sunday start (let’s assume Gausman for now) and they won’t need a 5th starter until Tuesday July 30th by which point perhaps there is a trade and the problem gets solved that way. Boom solved (temporarily).

    Or we could just day Ender is still not right and re-IL him…

  13. Thanks everybody.
    @20: I’ve been doing some thinking about “first round avoidance of the Dodgers.” It’s hard right now to conjure a situation in which we don’t avoid it, but the interesting thing is that it’s not really clear that that’s what you want to do. In general, the shorter the series, the better the chance for the less talented team. On the other hand, if you don’t have to face them at all because someone else does the heavy lifting of beating them in a short series, that’s even better. I’ve been playing with the math, and it’s surprisingly complicated… and that doesn’t even take into account matchups. The one thing you know, though is, the WC is now a substantially inferior option, so the best route is almost surely to pass the Dodgers and play the WC, even if it’s the gNats with their (presumably Scherzer-including) staff.

  14. If they are going to operate their rotation with only 3 fixtures (Soroka, Keuchel, and Teheran) for a little while, then they can continue to shuttle Wilson, Wright, Gausman, and maybe even Folty by that time around to keep a 5-man bench.

    With the situation with Camargo, Ender, and Riley, my simple answer is that I hope something changes. When the team has almost a .900 OPS, then it’s all well and good to let Riley work through it and justify not getting Camargo into a stout lineup, but any time the offense slumps, the criticism towards’ Snit’s lineup usage will probably creep back in.

  15. 23 – Case in point, yesterday was the perfect opportunity to get all of those guys a start. Culby in Left, Johan at SS or 2B and Joyce in RF (at least we got 1 of 3). It was a getaway day right before a big 4-game series with the Nats.

    I really think Snit is the right guy to lead this team, but boy do I wish he would give guys more days off.

  16. Good recap Jonathan F. I got to hear from just after the throwing error put Freeman on until Albies made the last out.

    On the Varsity content, maybe you could run that for an off day thread?

  17. @23 Something certainly needs to change. There’s merit to any of the moves you mentioned. It’s unfortunate, but I think Camargo is headed down to get some regular at bats.

  18. @22–if JonathanF says the math is complicated, it’s certainly beyond me. But I don’t really care if we face the Dodgers in the division or the championship series. But I really don’t want to play in the WC game. The best way to avoid that is to take care of business against the Natspos. This is a big series.

  19. Andy Harris at Outfield Fly Rule proposes a trade of Luis Castillo for Drew Waters, Kyle Wright, Inciarte and 1 lower level prospect (ranked 11-20 roughly). Would you do it?

    I feel like Waters + Wright may be too much to give up, but the Reds don’t have to deal him, so that is what I’d ask for in the deal. Seeing how close we may be, I’d reluctantly pull the trigger.

  20. @29,

    If I am reading Cot’s correctly, you have one more ML minimum year and 4 arb years on Castillo. His track record is good enough to say “Bad Castillo” is probably a solid 3 and “Good Castillo” is in consideration for best pitcher in baseball at least once in those 5 years. So, I don’t think that would get him. If the Reds give up 5 years of control, when will they compete?

    But, if the Reds would do that, I would do that.

  21. @22 It’s way too early to count playoff chickens, but as a thought exercise I assigned the Braves win percentages in short (NLDS) and long (NLCS) series against the Dodgers (44% / 38%), Cubs (54% / 58%), Nats (50% / 56%) and Brewers (55% / 60%) and calculated out our odds of winning the NL assuming we are the NL East Champs.

    The most likely playoff scenario is that the Braves face off against the NL Central champ in the NLDS, with the winner facing the winner of Dodgers vs. Wildcard. The worst-case scenario I came up with, Braves facing Cubs then Dodgers, yields a 20.5% chance of Braves NL champs. The best case – Cubs then Brewers – yields a 32.4% chance. If somehow the Braves face the Dodgers in the first round, their chances of advancement would be in a narrower band of probability (24.6% – 26.4% range). If you *really* want to get into the “what do we prefer” game, you’d want to make an estimate of what percentage of the time the Dodgers would beat the other NL playoff teams as well so that you could say for instance if the Braves play the Brewers in the NLDS, what are the odds they’ll face the the Cubs, Nats or Dodgers next? I didn’t take it to that level of analysis.

    My guess is that JonathanF, as a real-life economist, did a much more thoughtful job of modelling these scenarios. Nevertheless, I’d be curious if his conclusions were generally the same regarding predicted outcomes.

  22. Man, Castillo has had a crazy career so far:

    December 23, 2011: Signed by the San Francisco Giants as an amateur free agent.

    December 20, 2014: Traded by the San Francisco Giants with Kendry Flores to the Miami Marlins for Casey McGehee.

    July 29, 2016: Traded by the Miami Marlins with Carter Capps, Jarred Cosart and Josh Naylor to the San Diego Padres for Andrew Cashner, Tayron Guerrero, Colin Rea and cash.

    August 1, 2016: Traded by the San Diego Padres to the Miami Marlins for Colin Rea.

    January 19, 2017: Traded by the Miami Marlins with Zeek White (minors) and Austin Brice to the Cincinnati Reds for Dan Straily.

    But anyway, I have a hard time with parting with two FV 55+ prospects, Inciarte, and someone from that 11-20 range. That’s… a lot. I’d rather just trade what it will take to get a rental or someone with less control, and continue to see how many aces come from our organization organically. Or just go take Donaldson’s money and go sign one in the offseason. Wright and Waters is tough.

  23. Here’s the article Dusty is talking about:

    By the way, I do genuinely appreciate the thought exercise to attempt to assign a dollar value to years of control. And I can’t say that Castillo is not worth $104M in excess value as Andy says.

    But there’s a breakdown, for me, when you say then that after including Waters ($46M in excess value) and Inciarte ($9.8M in excess value) that there’s a remaining $50M in excess value you would have to include to balance the trade. And that’s how you then get to including Wright and another prospect.

    And this is where it gets out of control. There’s that trade calculator out there where it’s attempting to balance out trades based on excess value, but it’s all built off that 1 WAR/$9M equation. And that’s where it’s leading to these crazy trade proposals using this calculation. See below the Wander Franco trade proposal someone plugged into the calculator. Would any GM still have their job if they made that trade?

  24. Also, Folty starts today for Gwinnett. Hard to know what to make of stat lines in these situations, but he gave up 9 hits, 4 runs in 5 innings last time out for Gwinnett. Hopefully he’s getting closer.

  25. @35 – Folty pitched much better this afternoon. He pitched six, giving up four hits and one run. He walked three and struck out six.

  26. @32. Yep, those are in the ballpark, and taking it to the next step is what I mean about ‘getting complicated.’ For example, the winning wild card team will almost surely have used its TOR in the wildcard game, which necessarily lowers its odds against the team with best record. Thus, I think the chances of the Dodgers (if they stay #1) losing a short WC series are less than losing a short #2-3 series assuming the records are any where near similar. If it comes to the last week or so and I want to know what to wish for, I was planning to do a more precise analysis.

  27. @ 28/41

    thanks too…the real stuff…now we know…what preceded this was ignorance.

  28. So Claude remains on the Atlanta bench; question remains whether he will be visible.

  29. @29 No, never and absolutely not! Castillo’s having a great season this year. I wouldn’t trade away two high value prospect + for him though for the same reason I wouldn’t do it for Boyd, and that’s a lack of a real track record there. I always go back to thinking of Michael Fulmer when these trade scenarios are thrown out.

  30. So at the risk of sounding like I’m asking “why don’t they build the entire plane out of the same stuff as the black box,” why don’t the Braves either a) send all their minor league pitchers to Driveline or b) create their own internal Driveline program? Assuming that they haven’t already done b) that is.

  31. I’d like to see Thor or Bauer on the Braves. If one of those guys can’t be had, I’d rather they just strengthen the pen and roll with the young starters. Zero in on a lockdown closer, like Giles or Smith; and maybe see if you can get a Sergio Romo, too. Shorten the game to where you’re asking your starters to go 5, and hand it to the pen.

  32. I’m also opposed to benching Riley at this point. Does healthy Ender give you more than a “slumping” Riley really? I can’t see where he does.

  33. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the surge into 1st place happened as we replaced Ender with Riley. Riley will likely have more downs and ups, but even when slumping he’s still more of a threat than Ender. I’m going to be shocked if Ender is on the team at the end of the month.

  34. Inciarte is in the lineup batting 8th playing CF. Acuña moved over to LF.

    Hopefully just a day off for Riley. I’m fine having Inciarte on the bench to be a defensive replacement for Riley, in fact I think that makes this team better. But Inciarte should not be an everyday player on this team. Austin Riley does not need to sit on the bench. Even in a slump he is more of a threat than Inciarte.

  35. I expect Ender will see some playing time leading up to July 31st. The worst that can happen is he sucks and goes to the bench. The best that can happen is we showcase him and either trade him or realize we need him. We can’t run Markakis and Riley out there every day for the rest of the season, so…

  36. It would be nice if Kyle Wright could show something promising. He’s been kind of a milquetoast prospect so far for a first rounder.

  37. Wright looked a little shaky but got out of it and then the Braves played a little small ball for the lead. Wright needs to keep getting after them; I really think he can do it tonight. Offense needs to keep bleeding Strasburg.

    You guys are lucky you don’t have to listen to F.P. Santangelo. OY. I think I’d take Simpson over FP.

  38. Nick catches everything he gets to. He’s not the best rightfielder in the league, but he’s surehanded.

  39. Oh, Ronald. Would have rather played that on a hop. Terrible route.

    @61 So much drivel and stupid stuff.

  40. Wow, Ender makes that play 9 times out of 10. He has got to be rusty in CF. It even hit his glove.

  41. wow, braves outfield defense , what the hell?

    Braves defense was somehow better with Riley in left and Acuna in center?

  42. Wright is pulling a Folty. He’s breaking down after some bad luck. His stuff does not really look great. His FB is perfectly straight. The CU doesn’t move much. Not sure I’ve seen a third pitch or not.

    OK, there’s a curve that got Zimmerman.

  43. Wright doing his best Nuke Laloosh impersonation. Needs to start breathing through his eyelids.

  44. The white shoes with the white pants with low cuffs looks ridiculous, but it’s only the second-worst thing about Wright tonight.

  45. Even starting Tomlin might have been a better option if he hadn’t pitched yesterday.
    Wright…..Wright sucks right now and has all year.

    Well, that does it for me, maybe I need a break from watching games, I feel like I have no patience lately.

    way to tank what little trade value he has

  46. Kyle Wright…Bryce Wilson….I am not sure this is the time to see what AAA has to offer. The moment seems too big for them in a pennant race. At least Folty and Gaus have a track record. This is just awful

  47. Monday morning quarterbacking here … but starting Wright yesterday and pushing Kuechel back to today seems like it would have been logical.

  48. If our goal is to completely lose the momentum of a division lead with this series, this is getting off to a great start.

  49. I remember seeing Kyle Wright deal against the Yankees’ healthy lineup.

    I do also remember this. Brutal.

  50. Folty’s turn was today. He has to be a bit upset he didn’t get the call (not that he really deserves it either).

    We need to get back to scoring 9 runs per game.

  51. How many more times do I have to say that Touki has to go the fudge back to AAA and start again.
    What a disaster of an inning, even with the crap defense.

  52. Honestly, I had wondered what Wright had done to get the start, but I had to recognize that I’ve been busy and maybe missed something obvious.

    I hadn’t.

  53. It’s just one loss, except when it followed 2 other losses. Now it starts to get concerning with the way this has gone the last couple of days.

  54. @98 they must really be pissed at Folty to give Wright the spot start instead of him. I couldn’t figure out the reason for starting Wright either

  55. FP says “That has to be a record with a pitcher going 2-2 with a HR in one inning.”

  56. These last three games have sucked.

    Braves are only going to be up four in the loss column after tonight (seven in the win column).

  57. Contradicting myself, actually the Braves don’t need a 5th starter for a bit as mentioned earlier in the thread. Hopefully Fried will be ready by then.

  58. Wright had actually been lights out in his last 5 starts at AAA. He earned a look I’d say.

    In hindsight, Newcomb should’ve gotten the start (or at least been the one called on in the 3rd instead of Touki who cannot seem to throw this new baseball.)

  59. I agree regarding Newcomb instead of Touki. I’d rather see what Newcomb can do in a situation like that. I feel like that guy can stem the tide.

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