Braves 7, Marlins 1

This week has been another in the long line of examples of why if you think you have baseball figured out, you don’t. Coming into this week, the Braves had three against Colorado and the Mets had three against Los Angeles. With the Braves about to go out west and the Mets sporting a schedule over the next couple weeks that can fairly be described as buttery soft, it seemed as though sweeping the Rockies and hoping the Dodgers took the series from the Mets was possibly the last best way of keeping close enough to give ourselves a good chance of catching them. That didn’t happen, with the Mets taking the series from the Dodgers and us taking the series from Colorado, but dropping a game. So what immediately happens? Why of course the freaking Washington Nationals blow out the Mets on consecutive days and suddenly we’re just a game back.

In terms of today’s Braves game, it was a tight one over the first several innings. The Braves couldn’t get a whole lot going over that time, but they did get a run in the third when they strung a Rosario single, an Acuna automatic double and a Dansby sacrifice fly together. They doubled their lead in the fourth when Marcell Ozuna just barely cleared the right-field wall with an opposite field homer, making it 2-0.

As rain encroached on the ballpark and the forecast was not good, the top of the fifth was a race to get the game official. Max Fried walked the leadoff hitter, but struck out the next guy and then, as the rain started to fall, got an inning-ending double play to make it through five without allowing a hit. He struck out six, as well. For awhile, it looked as though that would be that, which sparked a discussion on here as to Fried and the “no-hittter.” I’m kind of glad that didn’t pan out, because I would’ve come on here serving as the proverbial wet blanket. A five-inning “no-hitter” is not a thing IMO. Unless, of course, you always celebrate when somebody makes it through their first five innings without allowing a hit.

No matter, the skies cleared for long enough to give it a go. Unfortunately, Fried was done after the two-hour rain delay. The Braves offense showed back up focused and ready to finish the Marlins off. They scored two in the sixth to take a 4-0 lead, Michael Harris driving home Matt Olson and Travis d’Arnaud scoring on a wild pitch. They completely broke it open in the eighth en route to a 7-1 win, as Harris singled home Olson again and Acuna drove in d’Arnaud and Harris with another single.

So now we head into this week down only a game to the Mets. New York is playing the wretched Pittsburgh Pirates next, so we should thank our lucky stars if they lose just one game. However, our Braves get a couple in Oakland (who’s also terrible) before the schedule picks up a bit later in the week with trips to Seattle and San Francisco.

50 thoughts on “Braves 7, Marlins 1”

  1. Thanks for the great recap, Nick. Yesterday’s threat is just another reminder why this is the best site on the web. The last series of the season against the web should be really something. I managed to get some tickets and cannot wait to come over. Go Braves!

  2. Great job, Nick. A Sunday win!

    Agreed, Timo–this place, at its best, fosters the kind of informed, respectful conversation you don’t find elsewhere in the internet, especially on sports blogs. It is a Cheers-like bar in that you get to know folks. I learned yesterday evening that BraveMarine and I went to the same high school and both knew Tony Phillips and the talented extended Phillips family. I was four years ahead of Tony and BraveMarine one year behind, so I guess we didn’t overlap in HS, but the connection is cool.

    I have tickets for the Friday and Saturday games against the Mets that last weekend, but I won’t win the prize for coming the furthest distance (I live only about 100 miles away). Timo, you are a true fan!

  3. Soroka was dominant at Gwinnett. 4 innings, 1 hit, no walks or runs, 5 KS. Maybe you’ll get to see a Soroka start in that last series against the Mets Tfloyd.

  4. Soroka has now made 4 starts, 3 at Gwinnett. You’d have to think he’ll only need 2 more starts, right? Does he really need to be getting more than 6 starts if he’s healthy?

  5. @5
    I think it’s more about getting a string of good starts in a row. I’d imagine he’ll get 1-2 starts at end of September if he’s pitching well.

  6. @3 tfloyd, I got tickets for Friday and Saturday as well. Should be an exciting series. Would be great to grab a beer if you have time.

  7. I really feel like they’re going to be conservative with Soroka — maybe get a couple MLB starts at the end of September and then shut it down and start looking toward 2023. Even if cleared, throwing him into the playoffs after two years of rehab seems really harsh.

  8. @ #10

    I understand your concern, sdp, but, psychologically, Soroka has the makeup for just such a challenge.

  9. They officially activated and immediately optioned Soroka late last week, so he’s not even officially on rehab anymore but is still in Gwinnett. So yeah, not that they can’t call him up whenever, but conservative seems to be the plan.

  10. Also, Soroka is ostensibly a non-tender candidate, but I imagine he and the Braves work something out.

  11. Mets rained out in Pittsburgh today.

    They’ll play 2 on Wednesday (even though both teams are idle on Thursday).

    And how ’bout that comedy-of-errors FSU/LSU game last night?

  12. @11 Unfortunately not – not yet. Got a couple single seat tickets. Are you planning on possibly goimg?

  13. I think they had to activate Soroka before Sept 1st if they want him to available for the playoffs, didn’t they?

  14. For September, I see three guys possibly making a contribution – Albies, Anderson, Soroka. Who would go out? I think we may have to see some phantom injuries among the starting staff, maybe to Odorizzi or Morton (to rest him)? On the position player side, I’d have to think Adrianza is most on the bubble along with Heredia.

    For the playoffs, Tromp would have to also be a candidate as third catcher. I think Yates may not go and Odorizzi and/or Soroka could get bullpen duty. With recent playoff history, it’ll be awful hard not to have Anderson make a few playoff starts.

  15. @17

    Players on the 60-day IL are almost certainly still eligible for the playoffs. They didn’t activate Ozzie, for instance. I think we’re overselling Soroka as a possibility for the playoff roster. I find it just as likely that he never pitches in the majors this year as that he sniffs the playoff roster. Most likely IMO is that he gets a start or two at the end of the season and then either gets shut down or stays loose in case of injury but that’s it. He is not going in the playoff rotation barring injury.

    And it won’t be that hard to not have Anderson make playoff starts. Every time you start doubting yourself, just look at his numbers this year, including in Gwinnett.

  16. About the Soroka talk, that we’re even speculating speaks to the relative strength of the Braves to the Mets. As for the latter, consider the desperation in activating and pitching Carrasco without a rehab work in the minors. And Carrasco got hit. By a really bad team. They have problems. They would be so lucky to be wondering about what to do with Soroka.

  17. Re: the soroka talk…
    As much as I’d like to see 2019 Soroka in the playoffs, that really seems more improbable than any of the rookies we’ve had take off this year. It would be an incredible story if it happened, but part of me wants him to finish strong and then come back ready for next season.

  18. Dylan Lee and Tucker Davidson started WS games last year. Lee was of course used as an opener, but was relieved by… Kyle Wright, who had spent most of the year in the minors.

    I wouldn’t close the door on Soroka just yet. Agree they’ll err on the side of caution but if they think he can contribute, he’ll be out there.

  19. It’s hard to see, barring injuries, anyone other than Fried, Strider, Wright and Morton starting a playoff game for us. I guess Soroka could be the long-man in the pen, but I think Odorizzi (or Anderson) would be that guy. I don’t think Yates would make the playoff roster.

    Good point re-Carrasco and how desperate the Mets were for starting pitching. They might be getting a little nervous in Queens.

  20. I have a fear Harris, Grissom, and Strider get figured out by playoff time. Is that a valid fear?

  21. Rob, better to fear the Gators will be over confident after barely beating a team that flew across the country to play in the Swamp and has nowhere near the talent Fla does.

  22. @26,

    Harris has already gone through a “league adjustment” slump and come out of it. Strider might be a little less automatic an dominant. Grissom is experiencing his first counter adjustment now.

    But Swanson, Ozuna, Rosario, there are several up adjustments that can move in the good direction.

  23. To add to the chorus, I think Harris has shown he can make adjustments on the fly. His OBP and walks have both ticked up over the past month and change. (Before August, his isoOBP – OBP minus AVG – was .037. Since August, it’s .053. Small change but in the right direction.)

    That said, we’ve seen that this offense can get cold. So anyone is capable of slumping. But while I think Olson has struggled at times to live up to expectations, Harris has been able to keep the game slow and maintain his approach every night. He’s just so amazingly poised. It makes me wonder if he’ll pursue a career in coaching or managing after he retires in a few decades.

  24. @28 I tell ya, I’m 36 years old and the Bulldogs win their first championship in my lifetime, and all of a sudden they think they’re as good as big brother.

    I don’t even know you’re a Dawg’s fan. Just a hunch.

    Ububba, FSU/LSU was an interesting game. Those two teams were pretty similar, which is surprising considering their recent trajectories. Norvell has done a really good job of pulling FSU out of the Jimbo/Willie shit sty, and he basically lost his bump class due to Covid. Norvell’s owed $18M, so as long as he can beat teams like LSU, he’ll be around. I see 8-9 wins. Clemson and UF are the only clear losses.

    Dawg fans may not agree, but college football is better when FSU, Florida, Texas, and USC are dominating. Considering Kirby’s 1 and a bunch against Saban, I would actually think Dawg fans would agree but whatever…

    Dawgs looked good. There’s not a single loss in that schedule. Expect their first big test to be in Atlanta. I think Stetson will be a Heisman finalist, and he’s definitely earned it. He’s a great leader and very good player.

    However, the guy in Gainesville likes to recruit, so we might be going back to the Spurrier to Muschamp era of the rivalry…

  25. Georgia has at least 2 tight ends that are incredible. I don’t think Georgia’s defense is quite as good as last year, but if they can continue to improve the passing game, they can be better overall than last year. I also think Alabama is going to be improved from last year. We could see an epic showdown in Atlanta if both teams stay healthy and improve. The question to me is who is the 3rd best team in the SEC? Florida? Tennessee? Ole Miss? The next few weeks will be revealing.

  26. Wins are a meaningless stat that don’t reflect much of anything the way the game is played nowadays.

    That being said, I do hope Kyle Wright wins 20!

  27. @35 – On the surface it looks like the Rays were crazy to release Wisler. He has a 2.2.5 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and opponents are batting .189 against him. I guess they see his dropping k rate and feel like his numbers are not sustainable. He struck out 62 in 49 innings last year and only 35 in 44 innings this year. Also, allowing 6 hrs in 44 innings is a little high.

    Someone should snatch Wisler up quickly, but I don’t know that he would be an improvement over anyone currently in our bullpen.

  28. I hope Wright wins 20, too. As Mac once pointed out (he was probably paraphrasing Bill James), it’s not like wins are entirely meaningless — after all, the list of the winningest pitchers of all time is pretty much a list of the best pitchers of all time — it’s just that the useful information they convey is more usefully conveyed by other stats.

    In Wright’s case, he has pitched extraordinarily well all year, and 20 wins would be a wonderful testament to how far he’s come. It wouldn’t say nearly as much about how awesome he’s been all year — frankly, he should have been an All-Star, and I fully expect he’ll get a ticket next year in belated recognition of that — but it would be a good memento.

  29. My son threw out the first pitch in a Rays game last month and Wisler was his catcher. Definite HOF ceremonial first-pitch receiving talent.

  30. Wisler’s DFA is an odd one, for sure. I did some digging and he had given up 7 unearned runs and had a crazy low BABIP. Rays are a forward thinking org, but it sometimes feels like they try too hard, especially considering Wisler was doing so well avoiding hard contact.

  31. “the list of the winningest pitchers of all time is pretty much a list of the best pitchers of all time ”
    But where the two lists differ, it’s ALWAYS wins that are wrong. Every time. Just to take a few examples:
    Mariano Rivera: 82-60 (great pitchers who are relievers)
    Jacob deGrom: 81-54 (great pitchers with lousy run support)
    David Wells: 239-157 (OK pitchers with great run support)
    Vern Kennedy, 1936: (21-9) (A mediocre pitcher who had a really lucky year)

  32. @40
    I’ll give you the relivers. But deGrom’s would be higher if not for injury and David Wells was a pretty good pitcher. deGrom winning percentage is ~60%

  33. David Wells was a pretty good pitcher. You don’t pitch for 21 years without being a pretty good pitcher. But he is a much worse pitcher than his W-L ratio would imply: a career 4.13 ERA, never significantly better or worse in his career tells you much more about him. He had only 3 ASG appearances in those 21 years.

    deGrom has started 204 games, so that’s independent of his injury status. When we look at pitchers in their first 204 games started, there are plenty with more than 81 wins. Teddy Higuera was 95-62 in his first 204 games, for example. Kevin Appier was 86-60. deGrom’s 81 wins in his first 204 starts are the 226th best pitching performance in history. There aren’t 226 pitchers who were better than Jacob deGrom.

  34. I think your comment “where the two lists differ, it’s ALWAYS wins that are wrong” is largely implied by my comment that “the useful information they convey is more usefully conveyed by other stats” :)

    Arguably, the best comparison for DeGrom is Johan Santana, another injury-plagued former Met; Johan retired with a W-L of 139-78 in 12 seasons, having spent the first four of them as a swingman. The Twins moved him to the rotation full-time in his age 25 season; DeGrom, famously, didn’t join the Mets rotation till he was 26. They have an identical number of Cy Young Awards. And both risk their Hall of Fame candidacies fall short for the same reason: lack of longevity.

    So the fact that they don’t have as many wins as other of the best pitchers ever is actually reflecting something true; while it distorts the picture of their bestness, it also reflects the importance of carefully defining the query. To what extent should our list of the historically greatest pitchers ever be weighted in terms of longevity?

  35. Alex: I’m making a different point. This isn’t about the HOF, where, I grant, longevity counts for a lot. You said you can tell the best pitchers by their wins. We all agree that deGrom is a great pitcher, one of the greatest, though we might have to make some adjustment for his lack of longevity. But the other point is that, even adjusting for his longevity (204 games started) his win rate in those 204 games is kinda pedestrian (well above average, but behind a bunch of pitchers not qualified to to be spoken of in the same breath. Teddy Higuera?. That stems not from a lack of brilliance, and is completely independent of his longevity, but from crappy run support from the Mets.

  36. @ 44 – Yeah, but all players who have played for the Mets in the last 30 years have had their stats skewed in the wrong direction. I submit that DeGrom knew what he was getting into when he signed on the dotted line with the Mets. (-;

  37. @44, oh, you’re right of course. I just enjoy being pedantically long-winded!

    That said, you just inspired me to look up Teddy Higuera on baseball-reference, and I hadn’t realized how good a pitcher he was.

    Among pitchers with between 200 and 210 career starts (and who made > 60% of their appearances as starters — this excludes Tom Gordon and Kelvim Escobar), and ranking by baseball-reference WAR, DeGrom is clearly the best, but Higuera’s 30 Wins Above Replacement make him the class of the rest, neck and neck with a WW2-era Cardinal named Max Lanier and a WW1-era Clevelander named Jim Bagby.

    If we expand further, though, and look at guys with between 150 and 250 career starts, it gets interesting!

    The best of all is Noodles Hahn, who completed 212 of his 231 starts and was effectively washed by age 25. Next is Bill Foster — Rube Foster’s brother, of whom I had never heard, although he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996. He’s credited with making 165 starts out of 238 appearances. Then come Chris Sale (243 starts in 323 games) and Dizzy Dean (230 starts in 317 games), followed by Harry Brecheen (240 GS in 318 games).

    Then come DeGrom, with 204 starts in 204 games; Candy Cummings, who probably didn’t invent the curveball but made 241 starts nonetheless; and Bullet Joe Rogan, who made 157 starts in 214 games. Corey Kluber’s in ninth place and Fritz Ostermuller’s in tenth.

    Then come Sal Maglie and Brandon Webb in 11th and 12th place; in 18th place is Stephen Strasburg, Max Lanier is 19th, and Teddy Higuera is 20th.

    I’m not sure what conclusions to draw. I think it’s fair to say that DeGrom has had a better career than Noodles Hahn and Chris Sale, even though Hahn twirled more than 50% more innings, 2029 1/3 to 1298.

    Indeed, what stands out the most about DeGrom’s career is just how few innings he’s pitched. In fact, there are only three pitchers credited with at least 40 Wins Above Replacement in under 1800 innings pitched: Foster (1499 2/3 IP), Sale (1678 IP), and DeGrom (1298 IP). It’s too hard to make direct comparisons with players who competed in the Negro Leagues, but I think it’s quite possible that the Hall of Famers Foster and Rogan were even more excellent in their day than DeGrom.

    Still: historical comparisons like this are, for me, maybe the single thing I love most about baseball. Thanks for bringing up Higuera!

  38. @46: Your Stathead-fu is burgeoning, young grasshopper. The only thing I would point out is that by looking at total number of starts you are biasing your answers by ignoring pitchers with really long careers, many of whom were… average. Don’t filter on ranges of starts… use their first 204 starts (with the Span Finder) then you are comparing deGrom (properly IMO) with every pitcher who ever made 204 starts or more, but only looking at their first 204 games (not all of which need to be starts, but that actually makes things more favorable for deGrom). Teddy Higuera made 205 starts, which is why I mentioned him as comparable, but Cy Young won 134 of his first 204 games. That’s of course a nonsense comparison because starters had much higher decision rates, but Roger Clemens won 115 of his first 204 appearances, and Doc Gooden won 114. Justin Verlander won 109. Gerrit Cole and Tim Hudson won 101. 81 wins in your first 204, all of which are starts, just isn’t that good. But that ain’t because deGrom isn’t an alltime great pitcher.

  39. One more point: if you look at peak performance in any stretch of 204 games, then (and now subsetting to the modern era to stop this being all about Cy Young and Christy Mathewson) Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay had 204 game stretches of 116 wins, Scherzer and Sabathia have stretches of 114. Now these are all truly great pitchers, but if you just use wins, you’d think deGrom was a piker.

  40. That’s a great methodological point — thanks!

    Of course, I still think DeGrom’s a piker, but that’s just because he wears the wrong laundry.

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