You would think that the Braves would have hit rock bottom when they got no-hit by the Phillies, but no — the Braves, like a Rob Schneider movie, acknowledge no lower limit to their degradation.
I’m not going to recap the game. After loading the bases in the first inning against Kyle Kendrick, who has a 9.64 ERA in the first inning this year, they obviously failed to score and failed to even mount much of a threat. Mike Minor pitched well until hitting a wall in the 8th inning — it was, for what it’s worth, his fifth consecutive quality start — but the fact that he was out there in the eighth inning indicates just how little Fredi Gonzalez trusts his bullpen. And with good reason.
But complaining about the bench or the bullpen is a bit like complaining that Phil Collins sang annoying songs in Genesis: it is true, but it misses the point entirely, because we have one of the worst offenses in baseball, and Phil Collins has a solo career.
A few facts, in no particular order. Out of 15 teams in the National League, the Braves are:
6th in walks (that’s good!)
6th in GIDPs (that’s bad.)
6th in men left on base (that’s bad.)
All of those double plays and men left on base might explain why they’re 14th in runs scored, behind only the Padres.
And we have a specific knack for coming up short when the chips are down. The Braves are:
15th in nearly every conceivable pinch-hitting metric (R, H, OBP/SLG/OPS, etc.)
15th in sacrifice flies
11th in OPS with runners in scoring position
15th in OPS with runners in scoring position and two outs
14th in OPS in high-leverage situations
And yet they’re only 7th in OPS in medium-leverage situations, and 13th in OPS in low-leverage situations.
It ain’t just your lying eyes. When times get tough, the Braves offense spits out the bit.