Braves 3 Natspos 1


Biggest win of the year.

I am not a big fan of implying a game in early August is a “must win.” Especially when you play the team in from of you six more times. However, I think we can all agree that last night’s win was huge, maybe the biggest of the season.

Alex Wood may have pitched the game of his life. He went 7.1 and struck-out 12. It was an Averyesq performance.

The offense did their thing. Going 2-9 with RISP and leaving ten guys on base. It didn’t matter though, as Jason Heyward, El Oso Blanco and Justin Upton all game up with big hits to plate runs. Justin’s coming on a solo shot in the fourth for his 1,000 career hit.

The Braves climb to within 3.5 games and played pretty well to start the “Home Stand of Death.”

135 thoughts on “Braves 3 Natspos 1”

  1. “Averyesque” is the exact outcome I fear for Alex Wood.

    Whatever else happens this season, it is nice to see this franchise actually win somewhat of a must-win game. Like ryan c and his baby sea turtles, seems like a good place to stop for a second and be happy.

  2. “Averyesque.” I remember.

    I thought in 1991 that Avery would be the best of the Braves young pitchers. His hook was fun to watch from the centerfield camera. To a lefty it would go over and behind the batter’s shoulder and then hit the outside corner.

    Although Adam R. does have a good point about a negative implication of that adjective.

    The offense is SO terrible, maybe random chance will let it have a run the rest of the way. I so, then we at least get to postseason. And, other than the Dodgers, everybody seems to have big holes almost like us. And, in the AL, A’s, Tigers, and maybe Angels are good, but the rest is also dreck.

  3. @5 More impressive when you consider it counts his start in Seattle, when he was struggling against some sickness and clearly didn’t have his best.

  4. I think the idea of “stepping up” is nebulous at best. Does that imply that guys aren’t already trying very hard and are just not getting results? How does a hitter simply “step up” and start ripping the ball?

  5. Yeah, I think that the author makes it sound like that Heyward, JUpton and Freeman can just be better whenever they want to. But the greater point that I got out of it is something that he conveyed that I’ve failed to in past posts. That Heyward, JUpton, Freeman, Gattis and LaStella simply aren’t good enough to offset Simmons, BUpton and Johnson. The latter 3 are so bad on offense that it would take 3 Mike Trout’s (exaggerating here) to offset them. I mean the 3 of them may be among the worst offensive regulars in the league.

    The flaws in Heywards and La Stella’s game, no power and Gattis’ game, no walks are glaring too. (Before y’all start yelling, I know Heyward has been on a hot streak of late.) JUpton and Freeman are our most complete offensive players but, short of April, not been good enough to carry the whole team.

  6. @9 “may be among the worst…in the league”

    Just did a quick sort of qualified MLB players by wRC+.

    Out of 150 players, then, Johnson, Simmons, and bUpton rank 125th, 140th, and 143rd, respectively. All of their offensive contributions are more than 10% worse than league average, significantly worse in the cases of Simmons and bUpton.

    The Braves and White Sox stand alone as the only two teams to play 3 players with worse than a 90 wRC+ regularly throughout the year. It should be noted that the Reds, Phillies, and Royals are pretty close, too.

    Just underscores the fact that the front office needs to shore up the bench and pick its spots deploying these clunkers as long as we have them. We cannot play all three every day. I hope yesterday’s line-up with Bonerface is the sort of thing we can expect from now on. (And I hope bonerface hits.)

  7. I still think Bonifacio in CF vs LHP and spotting in the INF against RHP is the best option. There’s no reason to play Chris Johnson ahead of BJ Upton vs RHP.

  8. Looking past this season the Braves will have to decide if Simmons negative effect on the offense offsets his defensive brilliance. Everyone seems to say that if Jose Peraza is the real deal that he replaces La Stella. I think if he can play short competently it may be better to have a more well rounded player there than a guy that seems (trigger flood advanced metrics to prove me wrong) to hurt the team as much as he helps it.

    I’d trade Johnson even though the team doesn’t have anyone in the system to replace him and good 3B’s are as rare as a Dodo bird. Since he sucks both on offense AND defense and he is more likely to perform to 2014 levels than 2013 the Braves would be better off with a defender that gets on base occasionally there.

    BJ? Replace him now. See above. Even a career utility guy with a league average OBP would be an improvement. Yes I am talking about Bonafacio. Next year? I dunno.

    Forgive my ignorance but what is an average wRC+? What is good, better, best?

  9. If the team can acquire a better option than BJ or Johnson, obviously they should. But as of right now, barring new players, BJ is the same hitter and a better defender at CF than Johnson is at 3B.

  10. 13: wRC+ is scaled so that 100 is league average for non-pitchers. The inclusion of pitchers in the NL drops league wRC+ to about 94. Each point away from 100 is supposed to represent a 1% deviation from league average hitting, such that a player with a 150 wRC+ hits 50% better than league average, while a player with an 80 wRC+ hits 20% worse than league average. I think this neat percentage model breaks down at the extremes, but even B.J. Upton doesn’t approach those extremes, so we can say he’s basically hitting 29% worse than league average this season. (His offensive value is rehabbed somewhat by good baserunning.)

  11. In other news Melky reached base 8 times in the 19-inning game yesterday, something only done 7 other times in history. I think he had entire months with ATL that he didn’t reach base.

  12. So we get to miss both Kershaw and Greinke?! Hooray. With Hanley on the DL too. Maybe our luck is turning up a bit.

  13. DOB was told that in the deal that would’ve sent B.J. and, likely, Minor to a team, the Braves would have had to take on an undesirable contract.

    Peanut stated the other day that he thought the team talking with the Braves about a B.J. trade was the Cubs. The Cubs have only 1 undesirable contract: Edwin Jackson.

  14. @20 That’s the only way a BJ deal will happen. Undesirable contract versus undesirable contract. Why would anyone want to take him off our hands?

  15. 21: Well, that’s one scenario. The other scenario is to send enough surplus-value players along with him to zero out the negative value on his contract (which is very close to 100%). B.J. + Minor is the right sort of idea, but obviously wasn’t enough.

  16. Anybody have any idea what the Cubs would want with BJ? Because I sure don’t.

    Santana was also rumored, so that made me think it must’ve been a contender that needed pitching.

  17. @22
    You’re taking on Jackson’s 22 million and ridding yourself of 45 million dollars of BJ. I don’t know if adding 23 million to future payroll plus Minor’s control years of salary (likely 20-25 million) would be worth it, but if I were a GM, I’d think long and hard.

  18. And the likelihood of EJ improving to Minor’s level wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities with a good defense behind him.

  19. I actually don’t understand how the Braves are missing both Greinke and Kershaw in this series. Kershaw, sure, he pitched yesterday, but Greinke pitched on Saturday, and somehow they are pushing him back to make way for Dan Haren (?), Kevin Correia (?!), and Roberto Hernandez (??!!).

    NB: Still not sure I’m 100% happy with the punctuation of increasing incredulity. All three are quite bad, but I guess Haren has been useful more recently.

  20. It’s a little early to think the Dogs are trying to set up Atlanta as their first round opponents, so the better theory is probably that someone on their rotation – possibly Grienke – is hurting.

  21. I watched Greinke against the Brewers, and broadcasters were speculating that he hasn’t been quite right lately.

  22. LA went out and acquired Roberto “Not Fausto Carmono” Hernandez after the deadline for some reason. And now they’re pushing Grienke back to make a rotation spot for him. That strongly suggests that Grienke has “dead arm” or something worse. Something is amiss.

  23. So Rob Neyer thinks the Nationals are the best team in the NL. He’s basically a run-differential machine and not a human being–but still. Has he been watching them? That’s almost as absurd as saying the Braves are the best team in the NL.

    Of course, I’m not really sure who the best team in the NL is. Pittsburgh? I’m going with Pittsburgh.

  24. My only hope for optimism about our ability to make the playoffs is the fact that Mil, SF and maybe even Was all seem destined to take a step back. Add that Pit is missing McCutchen (though they still haven’t DL’d him with a fractured rib?) and it seems if we could just hold on for the next 2 weeks, we could be in a position to steal a spot from someone.

  25. If you guys watched the ESPN telecast of yesterday’s game, it sounded to me like they were openly rooting for the Nats to win the division and considered the Braves an also ran. Did anyone else get that? One stat I heard on the radio that is amazing. After last night’s game I think the Nats have a run differential of +79. The Braves have a run differential of +3.

  26. Jason Heyward got a big hit? He hit a ground ball to second base and the pitcher forgot to cover. Is that what now qualifies as a big hit by the Braves?

    I get tired of people on blogs like these whining that the announcers are rooting for the other team. Stop with the paranoia. Get a life.

  27. @mlbbowman: #Braves lineup: Bonifacio 6 La Stella 4 Freeman 3 J. Upton 7 Heyward 9 Gattis 2 Johnson 5 B.J. Upton 8 Teheran 1

  28. Somebody reads Bravesjournal! Now it’s on bonerface to vindicate us.

    Edit: Check that. Didn’t see Johnson’s name.

  29. As long as Simmons’ ankle is a problem, he’ll play SS when not in the OF. The question is what they do with him once Simmons’ ankle heals.

  30. @37 – Don’t know how that’s paranoia if that was aimed at me. Maybe rooting for the Nats is not the right word, but what I heard was they felt like it was a foregone conclusion that the Nats were better than the Braves. Given the run differential and the Braves’ recent swoon, they may be correct – I’m just hoping otherwise. Don’t you think “get a life” was a little uncalled for?

  31. Just saw that Peraza hasn’t played in 4 days and is battling a leg injury too, so any chances of him getting a call up if Simmons does get DL’d are probably out the window.

  32. ESPN has certainly been guilty of crappy, unbalanced broadcasts before, but if you were upset with last night’s broadcast, I suspect you’re not looking for a national broadcast, you just want every broadcast to be a Braves broadcast. I thought it was the best ESPN baseball broadcast I’d seen in a very long time. They talked about us plenty. It’s just that we haven’t been particularly good lately. They talked Wood up a lot, they talked Kimbrel up a lot, they talked about the fact that Gio Gonzalez was throwing way more pitches than he should’ve been, they talked about the fact that Bryce Harper is kind of an asshole… . I’m really not sure what you want if you thought that was too Nats-centric.

  33. I didn’t get to see much of the game last night. Spent Saturday afternoon and evening driving back from vacation with my son, and was up at 5:30 to drive him off to college, so by the time gametime rolled around I was pretty beat. But, the parts I saw seemed to be relatively balanced.

    But then again, I was in a very sleep deprived state of mind, so I’m not sure *I* trust myself….

  34. Last night’s game was teased as a battle between first and second place teams but it looked more like two mules fighting over a turnip. 20+ strikeouts and some bad defense thrown in for good measure. I thought the announcers did a good job amidst all that. Although there were some odd moments, especially the part where Kruk said he didn’t have a favorite football team.

  35. @44 Agree that ESPN was non-biased last night. My favorite moment was when, John Kruk quickly said that Dale Murphy comes to mind as the nicest guy he ever met.

  36. I haven’t suffered through an ESPN broadcast in a while (due to the length, not some perceived bias), but I watched last night’s game from start to finish. I’ve got no complaints about it. It was very even-handed and I agree that, if you’ve got a problem with that broadcast, you’re not going to be happy with anything but Braves homers calling the game.

    The only moment I even had a problem with was letting John Kruk talk for an entire half-inning about taking part in Phillies Alumni Weekend on Saturday. For some reason, I don’t see Braves fans or Nats fans, or fans of 27 other teams, caring to hear about Kruk and Jim Thome inducting Charlie Manuel into the Phails HOF.

  37. @44 and others. Good feedback. I think in the innings I was paying attention to, the announcers just happened to be playing up the Nats. Again, I listened to it on radio for a while also. I do think the national media tends to think the division belongs to the Nats and they thought that even when the Braves were in first place. Probably the same conclusion I would draw if I weren’t pulling for the Braves.

  38. As an example of why I drew the conclusion above, I believe in the first or 2nd inning the announcers said that looking at the Braves you see a team that doesn’t hit for a good average and strikes out a lot – not an unreasonable analysis. On the other hand, they stressed how balanced the Nats pitching is – 3rd in starting pitching ERA and 3rd in bullpen ERA. Neither statement above is wrong, just if that’s all they said I would consider that bias. As you guys pointed out, it wasn’t all negative, so I stand corrected. Still, I don’t think that means I need a life.

  39. At least Bupkis is making outs lower in the order tonight, which hopefully means there will be fewer of them.

  40. New rule for next season, you get 30 seconds from the conclusion of a play to challenge it no matter what.

    This stupid stalling teams are allowed delay games more than replays.

  41. I have to say, the Teheran Gattis thing is weird. I never see it with any other pitcher so I have to think it’s on Julio. And we’re about to give up some runs

  42. Julio deserves this after giving up a lead off hit to the pitcher. This one is about to be over in the 6th

  43. lol… So Barves like. This team is the worst fundamental team I have ever seen…and that falls on Fredi

  44. Does anyone know if the Braves actually DO hit starting pitchers worse the third time through the order? Or does it just feel like they do?

  45. According to B-R, the Braves hit 233/ 292/ 357 against starters the first time through the order, 250/ 307/ 397 the second time, and 275/ 346/ 397 the third time. Those are respectively 15 points worse, 3 points better, and 20 points worse in terms of OPS than the NL average.

    Short version: the Braves do improve the third time against a starter on average, but by less than most teams.

  46. Half our lineup would struggle to make the Gwinnett lineup, at least based on merit instead of emergency or massive contract.

  47. @86 – Thank you for that. Barring hyperbole, that’s about what I’d guess. It seems our recipe for losing is the opponents always creating separation the third time through, and we don’t keep up.

    EDIT: Which is often followed by a rally against their bullpen that either falls short, or is short-circuited by our own bullpen faltering. Which, you know, that provides some nice variety.

  48. My friend and I were discussing this game earlier in the day. He gave me an over-under of 2.5 runs the braves would score against correia. I picked the under.

  49. 91- Haha fair enough…
    Correia has a 4.24 K/9 before today so maybe I should be happy that he only struck out 5 in his 6 innings

  50. Let’s get a shallow fly ball, and throw Puig out, trying stupidly to score on it.

    EDIT: Or just let them ice the game, whatever.

  51. Way to go Fredi. Keep running that guy out there against lefties, even though you know his splits.

  52. If Fredi only lets Russell face lefties, he’s not going to have a very successful Braves career.

    Edit: I intended for the “he” there to refer to Russell, but I suppose it could accurately refer to either name and the truth of the statement would remain.

  53. Was there ever a good reason as to why TP was removed from the hitting coach position? At this point I feel like he was better that what the Braves have had since.

  54. I blame wren for acquiring Russell. You can’t give fredi a lefty pitcher with reverse splits and assume he’s gonna know how to use him.

  55. Yep, another 4-6-railing in front of the dugout.

    Guys, can you at least look like you give a damn? ‘Cause I’m sure we can find someone out there who does.

  56. Unbelievable. This team doesn’t do any single thing well.

    You can argue about whether or not the hitting has anything to do with coaching. But the utter inability to bunt, field, throw, block pitches, etc, and the fact that those shortcomings are spread so evenly throughout the roster… You have to say they’re badly instructed.

  57. How did we go from O’Flaherty/Venters/Kimbrel to Carpenter/Walden/Russell/Kimbrel in less than a calendar year? Hideous.

  58. Yeah I was thinking along those lines. At least with the team playing this kind of baseball now, we can be sure they won’t be playing this way in October. They’ll be sucking at golf by then.

  59. @122 – and just think we could have had Prado for the money they gave this Chris Johnson bum .. he cant even put the ball in play now … we should set a record for SO’s in a season .. I much rather watch a team full of guys who put ball in play .. see what happens when the Dodgers put it in play .. boot ..boot .. boot … Freddie or Wren gotta make some coaching change or something since we are strapped with BJ’s contract .. 6 mil ayear for the C Johnson bum .. wow ..

  60. Tad, we wouldn’t have had JUpton unless we traded Prado. Quit waiting for bad stretches so you can come here and troll.

  61. Gents, I’m a lurker with two observations:

    1) Check out Marc Maron’s tribute podcast to Robin Williams. The interview is what it is, but, as for the intro . . . there’s wisdom in them words.

    2) As a Braves fan since ’90, I felt one season of mediocrity before the worst-to-first turn. Are we headed back to the Dark Ages?

  62. We’re sac-bunting in the 4th inning after getting the leadoff guy on with no outs…and nobody even complained. The Dark Ages are already here.

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