After our spectacular run through June and the first half of July, today landed with a bit of a thud in terms of ways to end the â€œfirst halfâ€ of the season. Strider wasnâ€™t great and the offense wasnâ€™t great en route to a 7-3 loss to the Nationals on Sunday. However, positives abound, including that the Cubs actually managed to beat the Mets this afternoon, so we stay 2 1/2 games back of the NL East lead. Also, the aforementioned spectacular run left us at 56-38 for the season, putting us in an excellent position in terms of the playoff picture as of now. We currently hold the top wild card spot, four games ahead of San Diego and six ahead of a tie between Philadelphia and St. Louis (one of whom would currently be out). Itâ€™s been an altogether excellent three months and a particularly excellent month-and-a-half.
Alas, this is a recap of todayâ€™s game, so Iâ€™m obligated to go through the particulars. (Maybe one day Iâ€™ll master the art of ignoring the turd of a game and writing about something else entirely.) This game kind of went off the rails in the second, when the Nats scored four runs off Spencer Strider. The Braves righty had struck out back-to-back Washingtonians after a leadoff walk of Josh Bell (whoâ€™s been an excellent thorn in our backside this past week, I must say) and couldâ€™ve been out of the inning with perfect defense by Austin Riley. A slow roller to the left side got past Strider and Riley was charging hard. He made a barehanded pick and threw to first with his momentum falling toward the plate. Though a tough play, I think an accurate throw ends the inning. The throw was anything but that. It went down the right-field line and put runners on second and third for World Series champion Ehire Adrianza. Adrianza singled home a pair of runs and then Victor Robles followed with a two-run shot and it was suddenly 4-0. Due to the difficulty of the play at third, they gave Franco a hit on the Riley misplay and the error only came in for allowing the runners to move up an extra base apiece. Itâ€™s a call that I think I agree with (an accurate throw there required more than â€œordinary effortâ€ by Riley, which is the benchmark for an error according to the rulebook). That made all four runs in the inning earned for Strider, but he had ample opportunity to get somebody out, so not exactly the greatest injustice of our time or anything.
In any case, Strider wound up only going four innings, allowing five runs (all earned) on four hits and a couple walks. The break certainly canâ€™t hurt.
The Braves got back in the game in the fourth, collecting hits in four straight at-bats to put three on the board. Dansby Swanson led off with a single and Matt Olson followed with a double into the corner. (He finishes the â€œfirst halfâ€ with 34 doubles.) Riley made up for his earlier fielding mistake with a single to center to put runners at the corners, and Eddie Rosario (who I see some folks have already turned on again) drove Olson home with a sacrifice fly (not technically an at-bat, by the way). Adam Duvall followed with a double to score Riley and make it 4-3.
The magic of a bullpen game, though, is that if a guy you put in isnâ€™t working, you can just go to the next guy up, and Washington did that just in time. They brought in Steve Cishek, who quickly got the final two outs of the inning and restored order. The Braves wouldnâ€™t again dent the scoreboard.
The Nats added some insurance runs and the Braves struggled with everybody except Jordan Weems (the guy they scored three runs on), as seems to frequently happen when they go against a bullpen game (though I admittedly donâ€™t have the numbers in front of me on that).
So now cometh the most boring week of the entire sports calendar. The Braves will be back in action from Truist Park next weekend, when they welcome the badly listing Los Angeles Angels.
I don’t know if you guys are watching the draft, but Fred McGriff issued a GUARANTEE that the high school righty we took with our 35th pick.
Braves have taken two high school pitchers with their first two picks. I like not taking college pitchers since we probably won’t have a use for them when they’re ready. Getting young kids to backfill the system is probably the right move.
High school pitchers are risky as hell, but the Braves are gambling.
Murphy thought the Braves were going to let him try the Ohtani route, but apparently they had to call and clarify with his agent — they see him only as a pitcher. I wonder if that makes his signing calculus change…
Relative to their Baseball America rankings, the Braves “reached” on their first 3 picks. So maybe they’re trying to get some under slot action and go nuts in the later rounds. I think they clearly draft well enough that they won’t be the worst farm system for long. I like that they took a college pitcher with their third pick that profiles more like a reliever. They’re not going to have a spot for a SP if he’s ready after a couple years, I wouldn’t think.
Murphy’s an incredible athlete, so I like just taking a raw dude and seeing where it goes. If he busts, he busts. An 0.12 ERA ain’t bad. If he’s lighting it up on the mound, I wonder if they let him pick his bat back up after a year or something.
I feel like we are saving our money for later picks.
Law didn’t have Murphy in his top 100. It sounds like he has a great fastball and not much else yet. So a project.
My understanding was that Ritchie isn’t a reach, he’s a guy who will take money to sign away from his college commitment?
The two-way player is fun and all, and while it is awesome that Ohtani is inspiring the up-and-coming generation of baseball players, the fact is that it’s extremely hard to become a +WAR big league pitcher, let alone a +WAR pitcher and a +WAR hitter. The Braves probably think that the arm and bat can’t simultaneously be developed to big league standards, and that’s probably the right assumption.
Definitely a focus on arms. Nice to see.
Phil Gosselin claimed by the Angels. I think we may be stuck with Cano until Ozzie gets back….
Gosselin is no loss. I think the best we can hope for with Arcia/Cano is a .650 OPS platoon with Arcia providing decent defense when he’s in there.
I’m for just playing Arcia everyday because of his glove.
Looks like we’ll face Ohtani on the mound for the first game back.
Count me among those who don’t love the all-star break. But, I suppose it will give me time to finally watch that 8-hour Beatles documentary.
@11 Most definitely!
Agreed. It’s no tragedy to lose a sub-replacement player. Goose is cooked.
@13 that’s a GOOD doc!
I am pretty much baffled by the fervor of the Everyday Arcia folks. He’s just not good, his defense doesn’t make up for his offense, and I don’t see why it’s not worth it to see if Cano can provide better. And no, I don’t think a week is long enough to kick Cano back out and just give Arcia the keys to the car.
Might there come a time when we decide Cano just isn’t working and we need the roster spot? Sure. When/if that time comes, giving the job to Arcia full-time won’t be any better of an idea than it is now.
@12 excellent documentary. Enjoy!
And MLB? FFS, I was only kidding.
16 — Respectfully, it’s not hard to understand. Cano can’t hit or field. He simply no longer has range. He likely cost us a run defensively yesterday. I don’t think he is likely to give us an OPS even over a pedestrian .700 with the bat.
At least Arcia can field and be replacement level.
@17: I can’t even start to count the number of reasons this is a bad idea. But I have to start with the idea that this was a negotiated feature of the CBA. Who was in favor of it? What did the other side get as a concession for accepting it?
In the next CBA it’s definitely going to be a mud wrestling match of players’ wives. That’d be the classy way.
As long as it stays within the confines of the All-Star Game, I say, “Meh.” If they ever put it in any game where anybody is actually playing for anything, I will freak. Minor league games, World Baseball Classic games…I mean anything.
Was that Acuna holding the baby and congratulating Soto at the end?
For the late night crew! New thread.