As the inimitable Alex R concluded yesterday:
â€œGames like this make it easy to believe that the Braves are just a winning streak away from being right back where they want to be. Now, they just have to figure out how to win more than four games in a rowâ€¦â€
Games like tonight make it easy to believe that the Braves will not put together the kind of winning streak that will put them where they want to be. Itâ€™s hard to imagine this team ever winning more than four in a row.
The Braves lost to the Mets Wednesday 7-3.
On the one hand, itâ€™s good to split in the Mets home park, and leave town no further back than when they arrived at 3:00Â Monday morning. Last Wednesday, the Braves were 7.5 behind the Mets; a week later, they are just 5 back, and they have three more at home against the Mets next week with a chance to cut further into that lead.
On the other hand, the Braves could have and should have left the Big Apple with better than a 2-2 split. The Mets offense has been pretty dreadful all season. Of the Metsâ€™ starting 8, the highest OPS was .782 (Pete Alonso, who has himself been a big disappointment), and no one else was over .711. They lead the division due to excellent pitching, especially the starting rotation.
But the Braves lucked out on that front. They faced deGrom in the opener (and made a close game of it), but in the next three games the starting pitchers for the Mets were: (1) Jerad (sic) Eickoff, a guy who hadnâ€™t pitched in the majors since 2019 (and he wasnâ€™t very good then); (2) Marcus Stroman, who has been excellent, but left the game with an injury after one inning; and (3) Tylor (sic) Megill, a guy making his major league debut.
Those are three games you ought to win if you want to catch the Mets. Â Our Braves managed to win games 2 and 3, but no dice in game 4.
Because Max Fried is on the injured list with a blister, the Braves turned to Kyle Wright.Â Iâ€™ve been a defender of Wright, more so than most around here.Â The kid has very good stuff, and he still has time to figure out how to be a quality big league pitcher.Â Itâ€™s fair to say he hasnâ€™t figured it out yet. Â Td pointed out in comments that Wright has a 1.62 WHIP at AAA. Thatâ€™s not gonna get it done.
Tonightâ€™s start confirmed that he still has a long way to get there, if he ever does. Wright simply cannot command his pitches. He had a 31 pitch first inning. Walk to Lindor, double to Conforto (on a 3-1 pitch). A wild pitch and groundout plated two runs. The wheels came all the way off in the second inning; a double by Guillarme (whoever that is), a ground ball single by McNeil, a two run homer by Lindor (on a 2-0 pitch), and itâ€™s 5-0 after 2 innings.
Given that RAJ was sitting this one out due to back pain, that 5 run deficit looked more like 10. The Braves starting outfield was Almonte, Inciarte, and Adrianza. Thatâ€™s a AAAA outfield (and I may be generous with the Aâ€™s there). My son pointed out that they would probably be better with their actual AAA outfield: Waters, Demeritte, and Pache.
Thanks to Josh Tomlin, who held the Mets scoreless over the next three innings, and thanks to a two run homer by Inciarte (!!) in the 5th and an rbi single by Adrianza in the 6th, the Braves made a game of it. But the Braves did not score again, and the bullpen gave up single runs in the 7th (by Gwynethâ€™s Ex) and 8th (by Greene, who lowered his ERA to 17.36), for a final score of 7-3.
Freddie went 4 for 4, and got his average over .250. Heâ€™s going to be fine. And Austin Riley had two doubles. Heâ€™s for real. But this team needs another bat or two.
Can the Braves make a run at the division? Of course they can. The Mets are beatable, as are the Nats and Phillies. But will they? The starting pitching has been quite good the last month or so. (We need Fried to miss only one start, and for Kyle Wright to spend the rest of the season at Gwinnett). The offense can score enough, but did I mention they need another bat or two? The bullpen is still a huge problem, but it is fixable.
I said last week this is about the most frustrating Braves team I remember.Â Iâ€™m not quite as frustrated as a week ago, but itâ€™s still a struggle.Â Still, itâ€™s nothing that winning thirteen of the next sixteen before the ASG wouldnâ€™t cure.Â That streak starts with a four game set in Cincy tomorrow.
P.S. My frustration with the Braves is greatly tempered by my excitement about the Hawks! What a fun team! How many games below .500 were they mid-season? See, turnarounds are possible!
Thank you, tfloyd.
I listened until it was 5-0. There are better ways to spend an evening. Or a season.
Been wondering where you had been. Don’t blame you one bit for watching the Hawks over this bunch.
Hawks have talent. So a turnaround is possible.
Need I say more?
The recap was better than the game, as has been the case more often than not.
I’m pretty confident we win the game yesterday if Fried starts instead of Wright.
Today and tomorrow’s starters are TBD. Both Smyly and Wilson pitched 4 days ago. Not sure who they would throw instead of one of them.
I was also watching the Hawks and only occasionally checking the box score on this game, so I don’t know whether the announcers discussed the following. It looked like in the top of the 8th down 3, Panda pinch-hit for Contreras with two on, one out and Inciarte up next. Seems like having Contreras bat, then Panda PH for Inciarte (if Contreras didn’t hit into an inning-ending double play), would’ve given the team a much better chance of scoring two or three runs since Contreras is much more likely to get an XBH than Inciarte. I get that Snit would’ve needed to find an outfielder to replace Inciarte, but it seems like the defensive cost of moving Riley to OF and having Panda play third for a half-inning or two would be less than the gain of having Contreras bat rather than Inciarte in that situation. Am I missing something?
Seems like for the last decade the Braves have either won the division or finished WAAAAY below .500. Is this the year we turn into the LA Angels, who flirt with a winning record all year only to finish 80-82 or 81-81 or 79-83?
Mediocrity, it is a novel experience.
@6 I don’t know if there’s a significant difference in the two potential outcomes, so I would defer to Snit since he might have known something we don’t (match-ups, Riley has a tight hamstring, etc).
It’s probably good I wasn’t watching yesterday’s game, because I likely would’ve gone catatonic upon viewing Ender’s home run. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the most unlikely home run since Rafael Belliard homered at the same site (albeit not in the same stadium) in September of 1997.
I will wait until the season is over to determine if Riley, and other young pitchers are for real. Of course I want all of them to be.
Riley .275 25-30 homer’s 85 plus RBI ‘s
is real. And an improvement in fielding.
The pitchers I want to see progress in becoming a pitcher and not just a thrower. If you watched the amazing Vanderbilt-Stanford game you saw Stanford’s ace go from pitcher to thrower one batter too soon. Result, lost game.
First pitch strikes
Control IN the strike zone
Ability to limit damage.
Avoid home runs with men on base.
Avoid wild pitches. Good defense catchers help here. Braves don’t have one at Major League level.
Yesterday the highest batting average
was .270. Riley. Hitting home runs are nice. But never enough.
Three of four in Cincinnati? Not an easy task. I think a split.
Enjoy the game tonight.
This is odd…Reds beatwriter, not Braves, said that Jesse Chavez will be the starter for today’s game.
That appears correct about Chavez. I forgot he was in the Braves’ organization.
Was at the Braves/Mets game last night and, after it quickly became 5-0 & knowing an Acuna-less comeback was not so probable, my only concern became avoiding any info on the Hawks game until I could get home in front of my DVR.
Talk about a tale of 2 teams…
This Hawks Phenomenon is really something else.
Hasn’t he been used solely from the pen in the minors this season?
The worst thing in sports is to be .500. It’s stasis and hard for your team to get better the way drafts work. Tanking is 100% the right strategy, most of the time, if not for the fanbase, but as a goal to improve your team.
I remember when Jesse Chavez was the Braves Journal Whipping Boy 11 years ago.
@14 – I don’t think Chavez has pitched more than 2 innings all year.
“The Braves lost to the Mets Wednesday 7-3.”
The Braves had a great opportunity on Wednesday. By the end of the second inning that opportunity had evaporated.
Tonight it’s Jesse Chavez. That’s scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Open another can of pitchers. This is the best the Braves can do? Satchel was not available?
Maybe Chavez could be an improvement in the bullpen over some of the clowns out there now.
I wrote in the recap that Tomlinson went 3 innings. He actually pitched 2, so that he may be available for another inning or 2 in today’s bullpen game. Our pen makes the idea of a bullpen game pretty scary. Even if several do ok, can we count on at least 6 or 7 of them not to blow up?
Gwinnett had “TBA” as tonight’s starter too.
A bullpen game with this pen is certainly an astute move….especially in this band box
Bowman says Muller is likely to start Sunday. They will give Morton extra rest.
So Davidson is going to be out awhile.
Roark has pitched well in 8 games. He is more stretched out than Chavez, surprised he isn’t the starter.
Acuña and Heredia out again tonight. Adrianza in RF batting 6th. Ender in CF batting 8th. Kevan Smith giving Contreras a night off batting 7th. Dansby leading off. (I think Almonte would have been a better leadoff choice.)
I don’t think I’m going to bother watching.
It’s not a good sign for him or the team that Davidson is moved to the 60 day.
Frederick on pace for 37 home runs.
This is going to be brutal.
What’s going on with Davidson?
Chip just said that India and Winker are perhaps the best 1-2 hitters in baseball. Messrs. Acuna and Freeman say hello.
Also, Chip keeps raving about what an offensive juggernaut the Reds are. They’re third in the NL in runs; the Braves are 5th. Given the bandbox they play in, they’re no better than the Braves–and the Braves offense has been a disappointment.
Now, I realize they will likely light up our staff tonight, but that’s a different issue.
Back-to-back Ks to get out with only one run allowed is the comeback I wasn’t expecting.
Are we on pace to set a franchise wild pitch record?
You could exhume a corpse and it would put more power into its swing than Ender Inciarte.
Braves Historians: where do you rank this outfield going back 30 years?
Worst? Bottom 5? 10?
I think Jesse Chavez has worn more uniforms than Edwin Jackson.
Chip was just saying how much Votto is like Tony Gwynn as a hitter. Gwynn averaged fewer than 50 walks a year. He was a great hitter, but he’d have been an all time great if he walked more. Votto is notable primarily for his plate discipline; he has averaged over 100 in his full seasons.
Gwynn never hit 20 home runs in a season. Votto has hit at least 24 nine different times, with a high of 37.
Why is this an apt comparison?
38 — The 2008 and 2015 teams were
really bad in the outfield.
2008’s most usual outfield:
LF — Gregor Blanco 0.9 bWAR
CF — Mark Kotsay 1 bWAR
RF — Jeff Francoeur -1.7 WAR
LF Jonny Gomes -1.1 bWAR
CF Cameron Maybin 0.6 bWAR
RF Nick Markakis 2 bWAR
I definitely deleted the 2015 Braves from my brain.
2016-2017 were a little better with prime Ender in center. Markakis was a below average (but not terrible) regular in RF. Matt Kemp was bad in LF, putting up 0.1 bWAR in ‘16 and -1.3 bWAR in ‘17.
That was about as good as I’ve seen Santana look.
Also, hitting Morton here is really dumb.
This roster is just so thin depth wise it’s embarrassing. Essentially a 2 man bench again in a bullpen game kills the inability to pinch hit for the several pitching changes you will have. I don’t know where to throw my annoyance must days…either Snit, AA or both
This year’s outfield has a chance to be bottom 5 in the last 30 years though. Acuña’s MVP level production being the saving grace.
Late 80’s had some miserable outfielders, but they always had one very good one—first Murph and then Lonnie Smith.
And the awful late 70’s teams had Gary Matthew’s and Jeff Burroughs.
In 2021, our regular outfield may show the widest gap between one outstanding regular and two crappy ones.
I will have much to say about bad outfields tonight.
If Heredia can’t play again tomorrow the Braves should IL him.
Kevan Smith wasn’t supposed to be a total zero with the bat.
I’m about over the Kevan Smith experiment.
Watching the Rays, Sox game. Talent and stupidity rein supreme. Similar to most teams. Painful to watch the joke called major league baseball. I must say in the 41 years I played baseball I never played on teams as stupid as most major league teams. I am dead serious. I guess it helped we never had such moronic commissioners.
I will enjoy hockey and basketball.
84, hum, maybe not.
Inciarte actually is slightly above replacement level on both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference this season. Both give him good scores on defense. You can carry a guy like that on the bench for a late inning defensive replacement. He’s getting paid a lot to do that, of course.
Heredia is pinch hitting, so no IL stint.
I believe the Braves went into 2005 with Andrew flanked by a 50-year-old Brian Jordon (2.0) and zombie Raul Mondesi. As far as opening day outfields go that was ugly. This was when reality was setting in on how cheap the ownership had become.
I know it’s not black and white but do the extra strikes that are ostensibly stolen by taking a knee behind the plate actually compensate for what seems like a significant surge in wild pitches/passed balls? It’s getting ridiculous to my eyes, but if they’re still doing it they must think it’s a reasonable tradeoff, right?
ERA regression, thy name is Luke Jackson.
They must think so, but between that and the idiocy of shifting the infield so it’s impossible to turn a double play, I think there’s a decent chance that they’re so high on their own supply that they’re completely ignoring any kind of common sense approach out of hand.
And to reiterate something I’ve said before, the sooner an electronic strike zone can be implemented, the sooner the insipid era of pitch-framing obsession can be tossed completely in the trash.
His bat speed is tortoise-like.
Ender and Smith have left 13 guys on base tonight. 13!!!
Of course Ender and the pumpkin come up with nothing
How is inciarte still a mlb player .. really .. he is terrible .. come on front office help us out .. spend some money .. get us a trade for a OF .. please
@ 60 .. they are both terrible ..
@61- I love “the pumpkin,” he’s turned into one and he’s shaped like one to boot. Perfect.
@58- No arguments from me, but in the interim anecdotal evidence suggests the taking-a-knee approach was just imposed on guys without them having a lot of practice with it, and our catchers at least don’t seem to be adapting to it very well.
This team is SO frustrating. Every doggone game, they do just enough to lose close.
I cannot fathom why they didn’t try a squeeze with Ender. If there’s one thing Ender can do it’s bunt.
Eight freaking walks. ………..so far…..
Ender is not doing well, and there is no evidence that he will ever do well again. However, he has hit a home run as recently as last night.
This bullpen is not capable of a regular game, much less a bullpen game. Maybe AA. and Snit are trying to tank the season. It’s the best explanation of the crap we watch every night. A night when you are missing RAJ and Heredia you start Smith instead of Contreras who stranded 6 runners. Very astute management by the idiots that run this organization from top to bottom. Fire everybody…. trade everybody….Just do something for goodness sakes.
I think Snit is managing like it’s a long season and no individual game matters. That’s OK as far as it goes, but I think the current situation requires a bit more urgency than that. There’ve been a couple signs of that, such as moving the rotation around to get our best starters going against the Mets…but then we also sit Fried during that series with a shrug and give away a chance to make up ground on the Mets even though everyone involved claims he easily could’ve pitched. And we go with a bullpen game with no apparent thought whatsoever.
You can diagnose, you can justify, you can make excuses until you are blue in the face. Crunch all the numbers you want, the Atlanta Braves are a 500 team at best.
Until proven wrong I am sticking to that opinion.