All Things Must Pass: Winning Streak Comes to an End

I became a baseball fan in the 1960’s.  Ever since, my favorite kind of game is a low scoring pitcher’s duel.  Friday’s Braves-Cub game at Wrigley Field made me feel like it was 1968 and I was back in elementary school  (Except that I would have been in school for this afternoon game and been forced to sneak a listen on my pocket transistor radio—today I was able to watch this one on my computer.)  Anyway, the Cubs broke a scoreless tie with a run in the 8th.  A.J. Minter showed he is human when he walked the leadoff man.  A sac bunt, steal of third, and sac fly brought home the only run of the game.   The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but couldn’t score, giving the Cubs a 1-0 victory.  1960’s baseball!

Isn’t it a Pity that the Braves lost their opportunity to tie the all-time franchise record for consecutive wins?  Maybe so, but My Sweet Lord, it’s been a fun June.  And you know, the streak was going to end one day soon.  Here’s the good news from today: the question that’s been on everyone’s mind lately is “What’s wrong with Charlie Morton?”  Charlie’s answer: “Not a doggone thing.”  Morton was brilliant, tossing seven scoreless, with 9 K’s, no walks and only 3 hits.  Honestly, I’d rather have Morton show that he’s still got it and lose, than win the game with Morton walking a bunch of guys and struggling to get through five innings.  As I said, the streak was going to end soon.  But having a solid Morton going forward means this team is in even better shape than I thought they were.  I’ll admit to being a big Morton fan.  If Not For You, Charlie, the Braves would not have won the World Series last year.

And this team is in good shape indeed.  Since Aragorn took over the fifth starter role, Morton had been the weakest link in the starting rotation.  If he pitches like Charlie Morton the rest of the way, this is the strongest Braves’ rotation in years.  The bullpen, notwithstanding A.J.’s hiccup today, has been the best in the league.  This is a deep lineup that can hurt the other team from any spot in the order.  They are, as Snitker said in the post-game, a team that relies on the long ball (they lead the league in homers by a substantial margin).  On a day like today when the wind is blowing in at Wrigley, they struggled.  At least four fly balls might have gone out under other conditions.  But it is what it is.  The offense will score a lot of runs. Don’t let today’s result get you down. Beware of Darkness, and don’t give me your Wah-Wah. There is every reason to expect great things from the 2022 Braves. 

Do they have enough to catch the Mets?  Of course they do; a five game lead in mid-June isn’t much.  Will they? I think that depends on whether deGrom and/or Scherzer come back and pitch at something approaching their career norms.  If that happens, it will be a helluva race.  There are still 15 games left between the two, including a two week stretch in early August when they play each other nine (!) times.  They also face each other over the last weekend of the regular season.

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While we are looking ahead, let’s look at the next several seasons.  Rob posted today this list of some Braves and their FA years:

 Matzek (2025) Minter (2025) Soroka (2025) Fried (2025) Riley (2026) Anderson (2027) Wright (2027) Strider (2028) Contreras (2028) Ozzie (2028) Acuña (2029) Olson (2031) Harris (2028+)

That is an incredible amount of talent that is under team control for a long time to come.  Some of them will become pretty expensive, but at least you know you have this core if you want to keep it.  This team ought to be excellent for the next several years.

That is the good news.  Here’s the not so good news.  Also earlier today, Ryan posted the link to the Braves Top Prospect list in Fangraphs: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/atlanta-braves-top-31-prospects-2022/

The top two on the list are Harris and Strider.  Both are in the bigs to stay, and they are already showing they are at least as good as advertised.  Beyond that, though, it is the weakest group by far the team has had since the rebuild.  There is not much help coming from the farm.  Suppose, as is likely, that Swanson leaves via free agency this offseason.  The #3 prospect is shortstop Vaughn Grissom.  I like what I hear about him, but they are a long way from being able to assume he is the shortstop of the future.  The guy you would have hoped may replace Dansby, Braden Shewmake, has fallen to #19 (welp); Fangraphs really doesn’t think much of his future.  Otherwise, there are some promising arms, but it’s far too early to get excited about anyone. I’m afraid this means that not only are there not players you can count on to replace anyone on the big league roster, it will be hard to put together a prospect package to trade for a star.  But back to the good news:  there won’t be a big need to fill in any gaps on the big league roster for at least three years.

*   *   *

What is Life? I’m not sure about that, but I do know the Braves can get back to their winning ways behind Kyle Wright on Saturday afternoon.  Let’s start a new streak.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

30 thoughts on “All Things Must Pass: Winning Streak Comes to an End”

  1. I will say this about that prospect list: Harris and Strider are a good evidence of the corollary to TINSTAPP: sometimes a guy comes up and is a whale of a ballplayer. Sometimes that isn’t the guy you expected. Martin Prado, Aragorn is following in your footsteps.

    And Kyle Wright is a good illustration of another principle: sometimes a guy is the guy he’s supposed to be. Sometimes it takes longer than you could wish. But he’s the guy we thought he was.

    If we keep winning championships, we’ll have a great reason not to get any super high draft picks. Hopefully we can finally get back to being effective with international free agents to make up for it.

  2. Great point, Alex. Individual players often surprise, which is another reason I’m not really concerned about this group for now. Some of them may turn out a lot better than they seem now, and since we have a stable big league roster for several years to come, we have the luxury to wait and see.

  3. What a great summation of where this team is this year and where it will be for the next several.

  4. Yes, thanks tfloyd. You have me beat – I didn’t become a fan until 1970.

    The Fangraphs link says Strider’s fastball is 80/80. I’m not sure I’ve seen that before for any pitch or tool, though I assume there are a few each year.

  5. With regards to the farm, I’m not so sure it’s a bad deal. Seems to me that with Harris and Strider graduating, the upper levels are pretty weak but it looks like the lower levels have improved. We’re already seeing some surprise improvements – Mezquita, Salinas, Niekro – are all doing well without a prospect pedigree. Others may emerge and some of our higher-level pitchers may yet make it or become attractive trade pieces.

    Our biggest liability is Ozuna; our biggest risk is Dansby. There has to be an answer for Ozuna; Matt Kemp was making 50% more and he was involved in two Braves trades (and couldn’t play OF either). Hopefully, Dansby learned something from the Freddie saga – there will be other FAs on the market.

  6. tfloyd this is awesome, spot on and worthy of recapping the end of Streak. Let’s start a new one today.

  7. After this write up and the Fangraphs list can we start referring to Touki, Muller, Davidson and Ynoa as the Apple Scruffs?

  8. @10-great suggestion–they’re certainly not the Fab 4. I feel like we’ve Been Awaiting on You All for too long.
    But in line with Alex’s comment above, at least one or two of them could pull a Kyle Wright and figure it out eventually. Muller and Ynoa have good enough stuff; they need to harness command. It does happen sometimes. Davidson (and Elder) could be serviceable back end starters some day. I love Touki, but it may be time to Let It Down. I’ve pretty much abandoned hope with him.

  9. As some of you old folks no doubt realized, with the streak ended, the phrase All Things Must Pass entered my brain, and thus the song titles from that class Georgie Harrison album. I just now learned that today (6/18) is Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday. Y’all dodged a bullet on that one. Had I realized that, the possibility of lame and forced use of McCartney songs could have been insufferable.

  10. I learned yesterday that there’s a conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney died many moons ago, and the current McCartney is an imposter. It’s weird the people that this conspiracy theory gets applied to. Avril Lavigne is another one that has been rumored to have suffered the same fate, with those believing it even sighting visual evidence of birth marks or moles or something no longer visible on her.

    Anyway, go Braves.

  11. I’d like to echo others that if the streak was going to end, it’s certainly softened by the overwhelming positive thing that Charlie seems to be figuring things out. If Ian sees some improvement, this is the best rotation in baseball, even ahead of the Yanks.

    Roger, I’m not sure what to hope for with Ozuna at this point. Let’s say he gets hot and he gets his OPS back to around .800. That’s about all you can hope for with Ozuna. So it’s really a question of why we signed a DH to this deal when all we could really expect for a streaky .800 OPS.

  12. @14: I’d hate to think it was true, but our assessment of Ozuna might indeed come from 60 games in 2020. Let’s look at Ozuna’s best 60 game stretch this year and I suspect it will be within shouting distance of 2020.

  13. Not gonna happen, but if Ozuna ripped a stretch of games like 2020 starting tomorrow, he’d have about a .875 OPS, 2.3 fWAR for the year 2/3 into the season, and we’d be tickled pink. And really, anywhere close to that kind of sustained hot streak would make him worth his contract. So if there is a hot streak in him anywhere, then his deal can be stomached.

  14. Um…so what was Duvall doing there? That guy has some spectacular baserunning brain farts, that’s for sure.

  15. The team with the best pitcher often wins, but not when that pitcher in order to avoid walks throws many fat pitches.
    He will learn.

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