Brewers 2

For the second day in a row, the Braves were shut out by the 3rd-worst pitching staff in baseball.

Of course, this shouldn’t be that surprising. Many of you will recall that the Braves were swept by the Padres not too long ago: well, that is the worst staff in the league, so it really shouldn’t be a shock when the 3rd-worst staff kicks your ass too. And yet, it stings a bit nonetheless. Perhaps it was the fact that a guy named Donovan Hand, a relief pitcher with a 60-pitch limit, threw 4.2 scoreless innings with only the faintest hint of trouble; maybe it was the fact that I could have written this recap as soon as the Brewers scored their first run, an RBI single off the bat of – no joke – Juan Francisco; or perhaps it’s just the fact that I can still remember April. The Braves scored a bunch of runs in April, a month in which they had the fifth best wRC+ in the league. To state the obvious: I miss those runs.

Put simply, the Braves aren’t hitting at all right now. The team had posted a .229/.309/.339 triple slash over the past two weeks, and those numbers will only get worse after today’s calculations are added. They have now been shut out the highest number of times in both leagues. And most concerning of all, the power has almost entirely disappeared. Evan Gattis is hurt, Justin Upton hasn’t regained form, and even the guys who have been hitting a little (until) recently – Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman – haven’t been hitting for much power. This is a team built on power, and no matter how creative Fredi gets – no matter how many bunts are well executed and bases are stolen and runners are moved over – the Braves will not score much without extra-base hits. That’s true for all teams, but it’s especially true for this one.

So why are the Braves struggling right now? Why are they 6-11 over their last 17 games, despite some excellent pitching? All you need to know is the ISO. The team’s mark of .113 over the past two weeks puts them just ahead of the Marlins and Astros. The Marlins and the Astros. A two-week sample is tiny, and all things must pass. But right now the Braves are a true-outcome team lacking power. And that’s really bad.

Hopefully they’ll regain their strokes tomorrow, when they look to avoid getting swept. This slump has to end at some point, right?

179 thoughts on “Brewers 2”

  1. I don’t do the Twitter thing, but I’d love if someone who does could see if @RealCJ10 would even consider taking the job as hitting coach (my radical idea to shake up the team).

  2. Terdo is begging for a shot to fix this offense. He hit his 16th and 17th tonight and is now up to a .938 OPS.

  3. Thank you for writing up a recap because that must have taken every once of energy you had.

    That game was pitiful.

    Again.

  4. Dan in The Contacts Era: 0 for 4 with 3 walks and only 1 strikeout. Those are some special contacts!

  5. This just in … all Braves except Uggla, Freeman getting fitted for glasses or contacts .. only can do 4 a day cause they cant get eyes dilated and play same day .. thats why Uggla didnt get it done in Spring training he didnt want to miss SPRING training game . Gonzalez getting his too cause he cant tell who he is sending up to pinch hit or who is in batters box .. umps will have to go 1 at a time cause they can have a 3 man crew while the eyes dilate for the 4th memeber .. lets see think thats it. Oh yea McCann’s lasic didnt work and he is getting fitted again.

  6. @5 well if Messrs. Peralta and Hand can have such success, Delgado will be working on no hitter when he gets pulled for relief help.

  7. @93 from the previous thread: I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the scorebook, Hotspur! I hope it is helpful for you and that your wife gets a kick out of it too.

    Put me in the “give Terdo a shot” bandwagon, though you’d have to lose Pastornicky to do it, and I just can’t see the Braves doing that. I think someone would have to come off the 40 man.

  8. @8, Well, in 1983 we were up 6.5 games on August 13, and fourteen games later were down a game never to sniff first again.

    And then there was 2011, the First Year of Fredi, where we had a commanding lead in the Wild Card race in late August only to witness one of the most spectacular collapses in major league history.

    We didn’t make the playoffs that year and lost the play-in game last year, which would make us due to lose the LDS this year. That and the 90-win pace we’re on this year makes us a special team, I suppose, but nonetheless I still see many concerns about this team that I hope will be addressed someway, somehow.

    As mediocre as we’ve been the last two weeks, we’ve only lost 1.5 games in the standings in that time*. Thankfully, we can bank a lot of our future fortune in the standings on the age and general badness of our rivals, the Phillies and Notionals.

    CORRECTION: We’ve lost 2.5 games in the standings in the last seven games.

  9. I really don’t see any moves that can be made. The lack of production from the OF is probably the main problem. They aren’t going to be benched, so all there is to it is to hope they figure things out.

    3/4 of the infield also have issues, so maybe we can tinker there some. Terdo can’t play 3B – but is it even possible to be worse at it than Chris Johnson?

    We miss Gattis for sure.

  10. Lack of OF production is certainly the main problem. I’d also suggest our somewhat haphazard defense is a liability. Outside of Heyward in RF, Andrelton at SS, and Freddie’s picking ability at 1B, what else is good about it?

    I’m optimistic Justin will shake himself from his doldrums. I’m also hopeful that BJ’s seemingly improved play in the last few weeks isn’t a mirage. His overall June numbers aren’t as scintillating as they projected to be as the month unfolded, but just watching him he doesn’t seem as befuddled at the plate as he did in April-May.

    One thing we can do is make sure when Gattis comes back we don’t mess around with his playing time. Set up a serious rotation that takes into account left-handed starting pitchers and rest for our outfielders and Freddie. Let Laird go back to complaining about lack of playing time. Gattis needs to be starting at least 3 out of every 5 games, and Wren needs to send a memo to Fredi that he’ll be counting the games the Braves lose that Gattis didn’t play in at all.

    I’d also take Andrelton aside and establish communication with him about the value of OBP. Reinforce the idea that the only way to justify him batting leadoff is if he can increase his OBP above .281. Otherwise, it’s back down to the 8-hole.

    Wren needs to start looking for a serious alternative to Chris Johnson. I like the guy and appreciate his contribution so far, but his pumpkinization looks underway. Longterm, we might need to replace him. His defense is cringeworthy.

  11. The third baseman of the future, Edward Salcedo, is hitting .266/.332/.437 at Double A as a 21 year old (which is good against mostly older competition). Apparently his defense is weak, though. He’s probably looking at becoming the everyday 3B either at some point next season or 2015, unless he falls on his face before reaching the Majors.

  12. Wow, Salcedo had 42 errors last season at Lynchburg. That is spectacularly bad. Doubt he has the glove to play third in the big leagues.

    Kyle Kubitza is hitting .280/.398/.495 at Lynchburg this season. He is a year older than Salcedo, but at least his glove isn’t stone.

    Probably, unless there is a trade made, one of these guys will be replacing Johnson. Unfortunately neither of them is major league ready.

  13. @16 I hear it’s awful, but I’ve got to say I don’t see how it’s much worse than Chris’s, and his bat could make up for the difference, if it’s there.

    It would also free up Pena (when he’s well) to spell Uggla more often.

  14. Terdo played 56 games last year at 3B and committed 25 errors.

    He has played 0 games this year at 3B.

    He’s not the solution.

  15. At this point, we could replace Chris Johnson with a cactus and not spot a noticeable difference. Watching him finally answers a burning question I’ve always had: “How would Edward Scissorhands do if he played a fielding position in baseball?”

  16. So Terdo is basically the next to have Gattis’s current role in 2014? Big bat off the bench that could possibly cover an OF/1B spot start. He’ll get a sept. call up if not traded for a piece at the deadline.

  17. The Braves need a player like Placido Polanco–low K rate, contact hitter, good hands–to spell Johnson at 3B.

  18. Lineup is:

    1. Schafer LF
    2. Simmons SS
    3. Heyward RF
    4. Freeman 1B
    5. B.J. Upton CF
    6. McCann C
    7. Uggla 2B
    8. C. Johnson 3B
    9. Maholm P

    Per Carroll at AJC, Fredi says Justin has a “hurt hand” they’re hoping will heal up with the weekend off and the off day tomorrow.

  19. I don’t think it was intentional, but would it “certainly be unintentional with two outs and a four run lead”? Wouldn’t that be a good time, as opposed to with nobody out in a tie game?

  20. You know, Chris Johnson is only 28. This could be his magical career year at the bat. Too bad his defense is such a horrible liability.

    SUCCESS!!!

  21. How hard could it be to learn to play third at a decent level? Chipper did it. I think Chris can too. TP needs to spend some more time with him.

  22. Ah, XBHs and strikeouts. Welcome back, that Atlanta offense we know and love so well. I’ve missed you.

  23. You can teach glovework, you can teach positioning, you can teach throwing, but you can’t really teach range. CJ’s big problem is that he has all the lateral maneuverability of an anchor out there.

    Maybe a yoga class, or a ballet class or something would help. Perhaps Chipper’s new girlfriend could help with that?

    @54, True, but he’s poised to play much more this season if he’s our everyday guy. He’s almost reached 2010’s totals in doubles and walks in 160 fewer PAs. That’s promising.

  24. @55. I think his positioning on throws and tags at third base could be improved. He always looks out of position to accept the throw and get the tag down.

  25. Pretty sure Chris Johnson will never be better than average – that’s his ceiling. He has no speed, not much power, and a terrible plate approach. He also can’t field. Your best case scenario is a .400 BABIP and some flukey power – and for the other team to hit the ball somewhere else. My hope is the Braves upgrade somehow.

    Maholm doesn’t look sharp so far.

  26. @55 – I disagree. I mean, I don’t disagree that he’s got poor range, but range is the least of his problems. He’s got a stone glove. He has bad footwork. He makes bad decisions, and is late covering his base on throws from the outfield and on stolen bases.

    I think a lot of his problems could be solved with practice. Which, might mean it CAN’T be fixed, because how could he not have enough reps at this point?

    It’s just that things you see as “second nature” at the big league level aren’t second nature for him. We’ve seen him charge balls and field on the wrong foot, we’ve seen him wait on balls and still field them off to the wrong side. We’ve seen him look to throw to bases where he has no business throwing, we’ve seen him completely oblivious that there might be a play at his bag.

    Fix all that, and I don’t care what range you have, if you hit.

    EDIT: I’ll put it this way.. Fix all that, and you’re Juan Francisco. If Juan Francisco was hitting like Chris Johnson, it would have been Johnson who was DFA’d.

  27. Honestly, is there any team in baseball that judges stolen base opportunities worse than the Braves? Fredi and the first base coach need those eye exams too, or just throw up permanent red lights.

  28. Unfortunately, Fat Juan doesn’t seem to be able to hit for average at the MLB level and of course doesn’t walk either.

  29. Using Baseball Reference’s WAR, CJ has a 1.1 oWAR that is almost cancelled out by his -0.9 dWAR.

    I think CJ could be valuable to a contending team but in a pinch-hitting role. He’s just a placeholder for us until we can get Salcedo or Kubitza ready.

  30. TBH, I thought he was out…but they only showed the replay once and it wasn’t a particularly good one.

  31. Hey look! Offense!

    If the scores hold up today, the Braves will end the day…6 games up in the division.

  32. Just needs a triple for the cycle…Definitely has the wheels to do it…and will get two more plate appearances at a minimum

  33. Jordan Schafer suddenly rediscovering his talent has been a pleasant surprise this season.

  34. Oh man. Poor Gomez. That’s gonna hurt bad.

    He’s incredibly lucky he didn’t break his neck.

  35. Did you notice when Schafer went in the dugout after the HR, there was nobody, nobody there to greet him?

  36. BJ Upton must think it’s just incredible that his whole career no pitcher has every thrown a strike to him.

  37. @89 I love that gag.

    It’s becoming harder and harder to deny that Success! has seriously figured it out. He’s worth at least 1.75x Melvin at the moment.

  38. @90: Former Hawk Walt Bellamy honestly believed that he never committed a foul in over 1,000 NBA games. As a result, of course, every ref hated him.

  39. @93 I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that we’re… ahem… hitting the ball… hard.

    9 hits, 6 runs, 3 home runs. Why can’t we do this every day?

  40. 94, 96 — To clarify, I was talking about Maholm. Seems lately like when we’ve allowed runs it was seeing-eye hits. Today, there have been some hard hit outs.

  41. @89 & @91 – noticed that and really hope it was the “ignoring him and then hugging him” gag. Camera didn’t hang around long enough to know if the last part got executed.

    @90 – yes, really tiring. My guess is every umpire in baseball has had enough of that.

  42. @105

    It was me, but in the context that we would score 3 or 4. Pleasantly surprised so far.

  43. Scout: “Paul Maholm has thrown 84 pitches but has plenty left in the tank, with his fastball sitting at 86 over the past 10 pitches….”

    Yeah, those four runs are a great sign of effectiveness.

  44. The Brewers have Yuniesky Betancourt in a platoon with Fat Juan at first base? Damn, they’re hard up.

  45. Cody Martin pitching a gem for Gwinnett. Also, another good day for Terdo, who has reached base on all three plate appearances.

  46. The only thing Joe Simpson likes talking about as much as “going the other way” is shadows during day games.

  47. @116, I thought it was fat people. But to be fair, “shadows during day games” has been a color staple since I started watching in 1982. I’m betting any money it’s in the Braves broadcast team orientation manual.

  48. Kinds feel like Avilan should have faced the top of the order. Two more lefties, and Avilan didn’t throw many pitches.

  49. Guessing this is supposed to be Fredi’s way of telling Gearrin he still trusts him, bringing him in to get one out in a close game.

    It’s going to suck if he blows it.

  50. Varvaro is right handed. Seriously, why did Gearrin come into the game?

    So confused right now.

  51. Fredi has over managed the last 2 weeks terribly… Going to get us swept and he is going to get away with it because the Nats lost again

  52. Whew. I’d hope Fredi learned something here, but after 2 1/2 years, I know the probability of that.

  53. As I said earlier, Avilan should have started this inning. Then, if you need to get Lucroy and Weeks, you have Varvaro or Walden.

    Gearrin should never have been an option. In fact, he should be sent to Gwinnett immediately. That way Fredi can’t use him.

  54. 152 — I thought Varvaro should have pitched the 6th against the bottom of the order and then Avilan in the 7th against the top.

  55. Didn’t someone mention that the Braves have only lost 1.5 games of the lead in the past 2 weeks if today’s win holds up? If so, that is remarkable.

  56. @160, It was 2.5 we’ve lost coming into today’s game (7.5 down to 5). If we win today, it goes up to 6 thanks to the Notionals loss.

  57. @161: That’s what I thought. Only 1.5 games lost of the lead in 2 weeks if they can get 3 more outs. Not bad for the “baseball” they’ve played lately.

  58. Two off days and two games against the Royals. Let’s hope this and today’s win is the cure for what ails us!

  59. Alright, good day today. Schafer was awesome. Never thought I’d be typing this, but I think you might have to figure out how to play him more.

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