On our recent run, the improved bullpen play has been the talk, but the starting pitching has also been on a strong run of its own. In August, starter ERA was 7th in MLB with their WAR 4th. So with a couple clunker performances over the last few days which have led to the Phillies taking his series, it’s important to remember that the Braves’ starting pitching is a key component to a postseason run.
Before last night, Julio had been on a run. In his previous 13 starts, he had a 2.50 ERA in 72 IP. But he continues to lead the league in walks, so it’s not hard to see that when he’s missing spots a little more than usual, he gets lit up. So he gave up 3 home runs in the first 3 innings of last night’s game, and that gave the Braves a big hole.
But after that gap was beginning to close, Anthony Swarzak created another. Swarzak was a savior when the bullpen was a dumpster fire in mid-May. He gave us 21.1 IP while giving up only one earned run until July 21st. But since then, the shine has worn off: 12.1 IP, 14 ER, 9.95 ERA. Opponents are producing a 1.126 OPS against him. In fact, the shine has worn off so much, it may just be dull. He’s now becoming a likely candidate to be left off the NLDS roster. It won’t be the first time; after getting largely good seasons out of Jesse Biddle, Dan Winkler, Sam Freeman, and Shane Carle last year, they all faded down the stretch and found themselves left off the NLDS roster. That’s showbiz, baby.
Happy Nick Markakis Return Day! You may not be excited about Nick Markakis returning to the Braves, and I don’t blame you, but it will signal the end of the Rafael Ortega era. Since his grand slam against the Dodgers, he has hit .167/.254/.183 in 67 PAs, including 1 for his last 24. It’s time to go. He made some coin. Wish him well.