Last week, I sat in this very seat recapping a somewhat frustrating but ultimately not-the-end-of-the-world loss to the Giants. The game was winnable and the Braves had had a chance to sweep their opponents from San Francisco, but in the end, two out of three ain’t bad…or something like that.
Well this week, I can tell you that tonight’s game was winnable and the Braves had a chance to sweep their opponents from San Francisco, but in the end, two out of three ain’t bad…or something like that.
Jared Shuster got the start in this one, and truth be told, he wasn’t very good, especially early. He allowed a run in each of the first two innings and left after 4.2 with four runs on his ledger, which he allowed on four hits and two walks. He had some help with those second two runs, though, about which more in a second.
Shuster did hold the Giants scoreless in the third and fourth innings, though, and that allowed the Braves a chance to get back into the game in the fifth. Matt Olson walked to lead off the inning and, with one out, Eddie Rosario doubled to put runners at second and third. Travis d’Arnaud followed with a two-run single to tie the game and, after an Orlando Arcia infield single, scored on a Nicky Lopez single to left, giving Atlanta a 3-2 lead.
However, the replay umps seemed to invent an out on a bizarre play one batter later. There was an extra throw to get Acuna at first and then Arcia tried to score and seemed to, as it sure seemed like Giants catcher Patrick Bailey missed the swipe tag on him and the call on the field was safe. They came back and overturned the safe call, though, meaning Atlanta had to settle for three runs and the one-run lead.
That sent us to the bottom of the inning, and Shuster got himself into a jam by allowing two runners on but struck out Thairo Estrada for the second out. What the harm would’ve been in allowing him to face the next batter and get out of his own jam with two outs and 83 pitches in the fifth inning, I don’t know, but Snit came out and went to Collin McHugh.
All McHugh did was have maybe the worst relief outing I’ve seen all year. 1.1 innings, 3 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, and he obviously allowed both of his inherited runners to score as well. The talk in the game thread about how this loss was all his fault inspired me to go to Fangraphs to see what his WPA for this game was, and it didn’t disappoint. It was minus-.626. Now look…I’m not an expert on all the ins and outs of WPA, but unless I miss my guess, one player being responsible for 62.6 percent of a loss in WPA is probably not good.
Put another way, if I go up to the win probability chart, the Braves had a roughly 60 percent chance to win the game when he entered and a roughly 95 percent chance to lose when he left. That’ll happen from time to time when you’re the closer, but it’s quite a feat when you’re pitching the fifth and sixth innings.
There was a Marcell Ozuna two-run homer that seemed to maybe get the Braves back in the game, but McHugh allowed two more runs in the next half-inning and that was pretty much that.
So not a great game, but I’d have said that winning the series in San Francisco and Denver and splitting the one in LA (or most other results with the equivalent 6-4 overall record) would constitute a successful road trip, and we’re on the road to doing just that so far.
I don’t have a whole lot to add to the conversation about what to do with McHugh going forward. I kind of think it unlikely that the front office would DFA him and I continue to be queasy about the “fake IL” talk. But he did take a somewhat nasty-looking spill on his way to backup a play during this outing, so maybe he tweaked an ankle or something… If you’re wondering about next year, he’s got a $6 million club option with a $1 million buyout. I do believe I might take the buyout at this point.