Braves walk-off Nats in 12, move to within 1 1/2 games of division lead

I wouldn’t have thought there was much reason for it, but if you were worried the Braves would overlook Washington in a series sandwiched between a couple against St. Louis and the Mets, you apparently didn’t have much room for worry. The Braves obliterated the visiting Nationals on Friday, then found ways to win Saturday and today, sweeping the Nats after a 4-3 win in 12 innings and moving to within just a game-and-a-half of the Mets after New York lost an extra-inning game to Miami this afternoon.

If you didn’t watch today, you may be asking yourself, “Twelve innings? Did MLB decide to get rid of the Manfred Man midseason?” I’m afraid not, dear reader. These two teams really did manage to combine for five straight scoreless half-innings with a runner starting in scoring position in each one of them. We’re the reigning World Series champions and one of the best teams in baseball, but let’s hope MLB higher-ups don’t confab in LA at the All-Star Game and decide to change the playoffs to a Manfred Man shootout.

In the bottom of the 12th though, Austin Riley finally sent everybody home when he ripped a game-winning single down the left-field line to start the frame (after Washington gave Matt Olson a free pass to first as the leadoff hitter) and scored Dansby Swanson as the Manfred Man. Riley was all over this game, in fact, tying the game 3-3 with a leadoff homer in the eighth off of Kyle Finnegan. He also gave Atlanta the initial lead when he drove Dansby home with an RBI single to center in the third. That, combined with an Eddie Rosario sac fly, gave the Braves the early 2-0 lead.

Though it was a small lead, Ian Anderson was pretty much cruising early. It was his best start in awhile, especially for the first five innings. Through five, he’d allowed no runs on two hits and two walks. He finished, however, with two runs and four walks in 5 1/3 innings after he walked a couple early in the sixth and Brian Snitker brought Dylan Lee in to try and get out of the inning. Pinch-hitter Lane Thomas launched a go-ahead, three-run homer to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.

However, Anderson has a lot of good to take out of this game, as does everybody who came out of the bullpen other than perhaps Lee. Tyler Matzek, Jesse Chavez and Collin McHugh were all exceptional pitching from the seventh through the 12th, allowing just one hit and one walk combined over those 5 2/3 innings.

So now, we come to a three-game set against the Mets. Take all three and we’ll have the division lead by this time Wednesday. Let’s do that!

Which Braves made the All-Star team? (Cover your eyes, Jonathan)

As this game was ending, the remainder of the All-Star teams started to be announced. We already knew that Ronald Acuna was starting the game as the highest overall vote-getter in the NL, but no other Braves had been voted in as All-Star starters, so that left us wondering who else might make it as pitchers or position reserves. Well, the answers are as follows:

Travis d’Arnaud and Swanson both made it as reserves and Max Fried made the list of starting pitchers. William Contreras made the list of reserves as well, but with voted DH starter Bryce Harper unable to play, Contreras will start the game as the NL designated hitter after finishing second in the voting for that position.

So we’ll have Acuna and Contreras starting and Dansby and d’Arnaud on the bench, with Fried in the starting pitcher mix. The starting pitchers of the game will be named when everybody gets to LA next Sunday night or Monday morning.

Riley goes down as a snub for now, but with all the players who wind up not playing in the game year after year, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he wound up getting a spot at some point this week. I would actually be a little surprised if he didn’t.

Oh, it appears we also bought Robinson Cano’s contract after this game

I just noticed this after I finished the rest of the recap. It’s being reported that the Braves purchased Robinson Cano’s minor league contract from San Diego (or “acquired him in exchange for cash considerations,” if you prefer the MLB approved wording). The thought among most seems to be that they’ll put him in Gwinnett to start, but if he shows anything at all, he’ll probably quickly be called up.

I’ll leave it to others to break down his numbers and whatnot, but my initial thoughts are that we might as well. Orlando Arcia hasn’t been great since Ozzie Albies went down, and Phil Gosselin can’t provide us with much more than he is right now. Also, we’re pretty thin from the left side at the plate…very thin, really. Without Albies, it’s basically just Olson. It was pointed out to me in the comments that, like a moron, I forgot about Rosario and Michael Harris, both of whom are now left-handed presences in the lineup. We still could use some left-handed help, but it’s definitely not right to say that we’ve got basically nothing except Olson at this point.

So worst case, we’re basically status quo. Best case, he can maybe be a part of the solution at second base until Ozzie comes back.

70 thoughts on “Braves walk-off Nats in 12, move to within 1 1/2 games of division lead”

  1. from prior thread @82 Rob, I have to think Ford will go out before Gosselin. Not to mention space will have to be made on the 40-man.

    I think this is more the equivalent of bringing in Panda or Billy Hamilton. Just a void filler, space holder. Cano minus the PEDs is not much better than Ford.

  2. Ford is only on the active roster because Duvall went on paternity leave. Cano would still likely take Goose’s spot.

    It’s worth taking a flier on. Goose hasn’t given us anything other than a pinch runner who made a baserunning mistake the other day. He’s not a very good hitter or fielder.

  3. Good write up.

    That makes us 3-6 in extras. I had forgotten about those wins in Colorado. I suspect our ratio of getting the runner in must be among the lowest in the league. High strike-out teams will not do well with the Manfred Man.

    And on Cano, why not roll the dice. I thought Arcia was doing ok, but there’s no harm in seeing what Cano offers. He might be motivated to play well against the Mets!

  4. And yeah, I guess Cano would take Gosselin’s spot. Maybe we’ll see and Arcia / Cano platoon.

  5. I somehow forgot about Harris and Rosario from the left side, as @1 points out. I’ll forgive myself for forgetting Rosario, but I feel like a real imbecile for Harris. In any case, I’ll update the story when I get the chance.

  6. I have never liked Cano. The only good thing about Cano is that he made the Mets waste money. He’s currently hitting .149 for the El Paso Chihuahuas. I don’t want him infecting Gwinnett with his pestilential presence. He may still have some Mets stink on him.

    As to the ASG, oy… as predicted. It is amusing however that Riley is having a better year than last year, substantially so, and the guy Chip wanted to be MVP isn’t even in the top two NL third basemen.

  7. 0.149 is his major league line this year. He is at 854 OPS in El Paso. Of course that is such a good hitting environment that the batboy is putting up an 800 OPS

  8. You are correct snowshine. I read it wrong. But the El Paso team OPS is in fact .867, so he’s slightly below average. And you didn’t even address my Mets stink issue.

  9. So how many predicted that Contreras would make the ASG, reserve or otherwise, as a DH? Baseball is an amazing game. Atlanta’s record at the break won’t be surprising. Contreras, Harris, Wright, Strider, and Jackson Stephens as key pieces are stunning.

  10. @10 in Riley’s defense, the top 2 NL threebaggers are also probably both top 10 players.

  11. From what I saw of him last year, Cano plays 2B like a middle aged man who’s no stranger to beer and ribs, which is pretty much what he is, except that he’s had $25M/yr to spend on his habits. Or, for added perspective, think of it this way: the Mets decided to go with the corpse of J.D. Davis, a poor man’s corpse Dan Uggla, for their DH this year rather than Cano.

  12. @15: No doubt. It is no slur on Riley to say he’s still behind Machado and Arenado. OTOH, has there ever been an MVP who was the third best in the league at his position?

  13. Here’s another perspective on Cano. What if he was bought just to get inside info on the Mets? That would be a little creative.

  14. @17 – By bWAR, Willie Stargell was the 5th best 1st baseman in the NL in 1979. He trailed his co-MVP Keith Hernandez, as well as Pete Rose, Steve Garvey, and Mike Ivey.

  15. @18 Could be. Which would also explain why Ender is on the Mets.

    Or maybe they need someone who knows where to get the juice. Though they could just retrieve Julio Franco from the Mongolian League. At least Julio is in good shape.

  16. @21 -If Franco was on steroids I don’t think he would have played anywhere in the last 10 years. The dude was a huge gym rat. I know Andy Van Slyke made allegations simply because Julio played for so long, but consider the source. At this point in his life steroids would be taking its toll if he took them. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I just don’t see it.

  17. By fWAR, Juan Gonzalez was the 12th-best outfielder in the AL (and 5th-best right fielder) in 1996, and the 6th-best outfielder (and 3rd-best right fielder) in 1998. He’s gotta be the only TWO-time MVP who fits that criteria, hasn’t he?

  18. Both the team’s catchers made the All-Star team, which is unheard of, but apparently not unprecedented. From the official site:

    “The last time two catchers with at least 20 games caught for the same team made the All-Star team was 1957-60 and 1962, with Yogi Berra and Elston Howard of the Yankees. It happened just one other time before that, in 1942 with Bill Dickey and Buddy Rosar, also of the Yankees.”

  19. @22 TD, Julio is one of my favorites. I love the guy. To have a body like he had at the age of 48 and do it naturally seems very dubious, though.

    I haven’t heard anything about Bonds, Clemens, Palmiero, or any of the other worthies having health problems.

  20. @26 – The Mitchell report came out when Julio was experiencing his late career surge and he wasn’t on it. Bonds obviously had to stop steroids at some point and may have escaped major damage. Point is that Franco kept on playing even at 60 at an incredibly high level, no matter what the league, for his age. I refuse to throw the guy under the bus because he was a freak of nature and worked incredibly hard. I liked him too, but I’m open to admitting he used PEDs if there is any evidence beyond being good at an old age.

  21. Not to be a Donnie Downer, or as I like to call them, “Ed”, but Billy Contreras had his 4th error of the season on that throw to second that may have been a little closer to first. d’Arnaud is on his last year, and Contreras is not ready to catch full-time.

    Also, considering how good our catching tandem has been, I understand that no one gives a rip, but what are we going to do with Manny Pina when he gets back?

  22. I agree with JonathanF about (1) the ASG and (2) the silliness of Chip’s Riley for MVP campaign last year. Still, let’s not overlook what an excellent season Riley is having this year and what a terrific player he has become. According to BRef, he is third in the league in oWAR (behind Goldschmidt and Machado), third in SLG, and tied for second in homers. His OPS+ is 146, up from last year’s 133.

  23. @28–TDA has another year on his contract, plus there is a club option for 2024. I was skeptical when they agreed to that–I thought Travis may have been entering a rapid decline phase. His performance so far this year shows it’s a good deal for the Braves. Part of the value, I suspect, is in his influence on Contreras.

    As to whether Contreras is ready to catch more, folks with the team rave about his improvement behind the dish, and what a hard worker and good learner he is. That may be just PR, but I don’t think he’d be catching so many games if he was a big liability defensively.
    When they signed d’Arnaud for two years and then Pina, I figured the team was down on Contreras’s prospects to be the full time catcher. Maybe they were, but events have shown us that he does belong in the big leagues.

  24. Pina is done for the season. Catching depth is necessary, but the problem is that neither of the three right now are minor leaguers. I don’t see the team carrying three catchers unless Contreras were to become primarily a DH, but then that means Ozuna is in the field. It seems more likely that Pina will end up traded.

  25. Having depth at catcher is the definition of a good problem to have, and cromulent backup catchers are among the game’s more liquid assets. I guarantee you that if the Braves genuinely can’t find a place for Piña and would rather not pay his salary, another team would be thrilled to take him off our hands.

    I think the trouble with using Bill as a DH would be that if TdA needed to come out of the game, and Contreras needed to move over to catcher, we would lose the DH and the pitcher would have to hit. Am I getting that wrong?

  26. You’re right, but this seems an awfully small thing to worry about. You can still pinch hit for the pitcher… just like the old days!

  27. Whoa

  28. Not to ask the obvious question, but is a draft pick worth three actual minor leaguers? I mean, it’s a bust and probably a couple of lottery tickets, but even so…

    UPDATE: It just dawned on me that it’s probably about the bonus pool, which makes a little more sense, but I still wonder if that’s worth three actual players.

  29. Kiley says with this trade and the graduations of Strider and Harris that Atlanta now has the 30th rated farm system. Obviously subject to change after the draft.

  30. For us, it’s about bonus pool $. For KC, they might be getting ready to trade an OF, and they’re not really sold on the in-house replacements yet.

    If Waters continues to play at his current level, then he’s Melvin Nieves, and we look like geniuses. If he rebounds and plays like Jermaine Dye, we look like morons.

  31. Atlanta’s hit rate on traded for draft picks is pretty good:

    Austin Riley and AJ Minter

  32. @39 $2.25M in extra slot money should change that. I think AA knows who wants to go over slot, and he likes those guys.

  33. If you’re KC, why the hell are you trading slot money? No one needs that slot money more than them!

    For Atlanta, you have a nearly full outfielder for the greater part of the decade, so turning Waters into even better draft talent way down the system is genius. Love this trade.

  34. @43
    I agree. Even it the pick doesn’t turn into anything, we now have more slot leverage.

  35. @44 Across all these draft picks, if you can get a guy who wanted $600K vs. $400K, and you can do that all up and down the draft, then you’re going to end up in a lot of situations like a Michael Harris II going in the 3rd round. I don’t know what Michael Harris’ pre-draft predictions were, but that looks like a guy that got some nice over-slot action to not go to college.

  36. @45 Now we only need to hear about Kenley.

    If that draft pick turns into either a Riley or a Minter that would make it a great trade. Atlanta doesn’t get many top picks any more with success on the field and this pick is nearly as high as they could trade up. If we end up with a bust, this is gonna look real bad. Hoffman has potential but we are flush with pitching as well. I would like to have gotten either or both of Benintendi or Merrifield but maybe this is the best we could do.

    As I said before, this trade season is going to be very tricky to wade through. With Waters gone, there’s not a lot left to deal. I’m guessing the Braves will dive head first back into the international market.

    Is Cano as good or better than Merrifield? Than Gosselin? Or Goins? Or Vailaka?

  37. Sorry, I just can’t stop gushing over this trade. A fair criticism of AA has been that he has waited too long to trade some guys. He just traded Touki Toussaint for a bag of balls, for example. So to clearly see that Waters was blocked, probably never going to hit enough to warrant a corner outfield spot, and another team inexplicably wanted to deal $2.25M of their slot money, that was really smart.

    Having the 20th spot in the draft, Atlanta had $8.02M in slot money. By adding $2.25M, that puts them 10th. And when you’re this dang good and this dang young and this flush with money, the best think you can do is to get money to put into one of the two areas of acquiring talent where your dollar is worth more than a real world dollar (this is true for the international market as well).

  38. The more I think about it, Waters was a second round pick at 41 so picking at 35 should be a bit better and maybe worth a CJ Alexander. Adding Hoffman makes it much more imperative that it turn out better than Waters.

  39. In AA I trust. I had pretty much despaired of Waters figuring it out–despite his athleticism, he simply hasn’t been able to make enough contact to project as a major league regular. For Waters’ sake, I’ll be happy if he turns it around, but based on what we know now this is a great deal.

  40. @49, but Waters’ valuation when he was drafted isn’t relevant any more. His decline (I assume it’s a decline, or at least his chance of becoming a star has declined) is a sunk cost and shouldn’t influence his current trade value.

    I like the trade. I assume the slot money is the more important aspect, but just trading a draftee who apparently hasn’t worked out along with a lottery ticket and some minor league roster filler for the chance to draft someone else with about the same amount of star potential as Waters had when he was drafted seems like a good deal. And if the #35 draftee doesn’t work out, let’s trade him again for another chance at a star.

  41. This seems like a pretty shrewd way to inject some life into the farm system. AA really seems like he knows what he’s doing.

    Was it ever confirmed why Brian Bridges was let go? I’ve always assumed it was a combination of the Carter Stewart controversy and AA just wanting his own guy.

  42. Looks like the Mets will be missing 2 of their better hitters — Starling Marte (groin) and Jeff McNeil (paternity list) — for tonight’s game, and possibly for the series. (Maybe let’s not let #20 beat us this week.)

    And if you thought our “nattering nabobs of negativism” — thnx, Wm. Safire! — were too much, check out what’s going on in MetsLand. See gloomy comments below column in the NY Post:

    In comparison, we’re a bunch of Norman Vincent Peales.

  43. Waters at this point looks like his ceiling is a 4th outfielder. Hoffmann might be a back of the rotation guy. Alexander is just minor league filler.

    And the Braves get the 35th overall selection and bonus pool money? I love this trade.

  44. Always fascinating to see all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that goes on in “MetsLand”. I’ve gotta say I really like Showalter, though, and think somehow that he’s a guy that can keep them sane, cool and competitive (though you never know, and I’d love to be wrong about this).

  45. Did anyone else try to watch this weekend’s Home Run Derby X? What the hell was that?

  46. 57 — Yeah, I’ve noticed he does a good job and has a competitive team everywhere he has been.

  47. #57
    I’ve always been a big Showalter fan, going back to his days in The Bronx. Always loved his spots on the local radio here — he’s from the Florida Panhandle & he always gave me a little flavor of home. He sounds like every coach I ever had growing up. I hate to root against him now, but it must be done. ;)

    BTW, Cano starting at 2B & hitting 9th tonight. I hope he ate his Wheaties this morning & he’s feeling vengeful.

  48. IMO, it feels a bit gimmicky to acquire Cano and start him tonight in the first game versus the Mets.

    I have liked how Arcia has played as of late.

    But what do I know.

  49. Did I read somewhere that Max was hurt after his last start or lifted for precautionary reasons? I can’t remember. Obviously nothing that would keep him from making tonight’s start, but thought I saw that somewhere.

  50. @64, he felt a little tightness in his ass. Snitker said he’d be fine for the start tonight.

  51. Love the trade as Waters is nothing but chaff.

    Don’t love Cano as I think he’s about as finished as an open tin of cottage cheese sitting outside overnight on a back porch in south Georgia.

    The Braves have had better teams than this one before, but I don’t know if its had one as complete and balanced as this one in a long while.

    And I promise I don’t want this to sound like an I told you so, but IMO the two most important stats in baseball (as it’s played today, not all time) are HRs and Ks of the opponent by your pitching staff. It’s not a coincidence that the Braves teams that were struggling during the rebuild weren’t good at either and the teams that are winning big, now are doing exceedingly well in both. Powerful players win in this era. The more you have, the better you will be.

  52. @66

    Don’t love Cano as I think he’s about as finished as an open tin of cottage cheese sitting outside overnight on a back porch in south Georgia.

    Nice. And agreed.

  53. The Cano thing is kind of weird because you would think they’re grabbing Cano to start at 2B against RHP. But Arcia is hitting .276/.360/.414 against RHP. He’s hitting .194/.250/.250 against LHP. So if they wanted to get someone to start at 2B, I would think that it would have been against LHP. They must know something or see something with Cano that leads them to believe he can maybe run into a few fastballs as a PH the way Sandoval did last year. But it’s not like Cano is a Sandoval or Heredia and would be this “great clubhouse presence”. So I dunno.

  54. I think the chances of getting a mlb quality performance from Cano at this point are pretty slim. However, I did look into his work ethic and it is a mixed bag. Many claim that he’s a hard worker, but his slow jogs to first seem to speak otherwise. Andy Van Slyke dissed him, but as a non fan of Mr. Van Slyke, his words don’t hold much weight for me. Bottom line is, even the smallest hint of success will surprise me. I don’t think he’ll be around after the trade deadline.

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