Nats 3, Barves 1 (by Rob Cope)

Well, this one started promising. Bud Norris, coming off a season in which he posted a 6.72 ERA, had a great debut for Atlanta. He cruised through six innings, giving up only three hits, one walk, and no runs. He was certainly aided by a brilliant diving catch by Inciarte into the right-center field gap who then doubled Bryce Harper off of first base. Ender will be one of the few bright spots this year.

Meanwhile, the Braves were out-hitting the Nats and leading 1-0 on a RBI single by Pierzynski, who was then thrown out at second trying to stretch. Man, he has a knack of frustrating you. More on that later. Adonis also had three hits, with no one else collecting more than one.

The seventh is when the Barves came out to play. With a runner on second with two outs, Wilson Ramos, who is very slow, hit a tough ball in the hole to Aybar. With his second poor throw in as many games, Freddie is pulled off the bag. Zimmerman tries to score, Freddie fires to the plate, and Pierzynski completely misses the throw, allowing the runner to score and Ramos to reach second. After an international walk, Matt den Dekker ropes a double, scoring the two eventual winning runs. Overall, Norris pitched 7 innings, allowing three earned runs. Not a bad outing at all.

With this offense, a two run deficit late will often result in a loss, and today was no different. The bullpen logged a good night, with Alexi Ogando and John Gant each pitching a scoreless inning.

St. Louis now comes to town for a three game weekend series.

127 thoughts on “Nats 3, Barves 1 (by Rob Cope)”

  1. This Sunday, I made two small wagers with a buddy of mine – he set the line on 2016 Braves wins at 61.5, and I took the over on that (my personal guess was 65 – 70 wins). He also said this year’s bullpen was going to be worse than the 2015 edition, so I bet him that the Braves’ bullpen ERA would be lower than the 2015 ‘pen ERA (4.69). Coming into the season, I figured I had maybe a 60 – 65% chance to win the over/under bet, and a 90% chance to win the ERA bet. I’ve moved the odds on the wins bet to 50/50, and the bullpen bet to 95%.

    I still think this team has some life in it – better offense than we saw in the 2nd half of 2015 at least – but they have so little margin for error most nights. Thus far, weak defense at C and SS has killed us, but I have to think (foolishly hope?) that the defense will get a bit better and/or stop crapping out at just the wrong times.

  2. Norris deserved better. He pitched well.

    I hope A.J. calls one heck of a game behind the plate – – b/c he’s made 3 critical mistakes in 2 games thus far. Heck, had he slid into 2nd, we’d be looking at man on 3rd with 1 out.

  3. Baghdad Chipn’Joe said that Fredi wants to use Flowers twice in the Cardinals series. After warching AJ botch two makeable plays, I hope Tyler gets three starts.

  4. Went to my 2nd consecutive game in The Bronx tonight. Starlin Castro’s off to a blazing start (7 RBI) for his new club & this Correa kid from Houston’s pretty good (3 HRs). Also, before tonight, the last 3 Hou@NYY games I attended saw Dallas Keuchel go 3-0, giving up 2 ER in 21 IP. Nasty, this guy.

    One more thing… I raise the glass tonight to the late, great Merle Haggard. What songs & wotta voice…

  5. Is an international walk where you couldn’t reach a pitch with a passport? And yes, ububba RIP Okie from Muskogee

  6. It’s a small-sample size but I think Aybar might have regressed defensively to bottom 3. He was pretty close to that last year coming in at 23rd and 26th in UZR/150 and DRS. And he’s failing the eye test pretty badly. I know anyone was doomed to fail after Andrelton, but in the 2 games we’ve seen, this is Pastornicky bad.

  7. The play Aybar messed up was a tough throw, but he still should have made the play.

    Endrew, Adonis and Norris have looked good so far.

  8. Aybar and AJ did not seem to get the error bugs worked out in Spring training. This is pretty common. Hopefully they’ll both settle in to what they were last year, which is below average.

    Beckam, otoh, is a special case. 0 for his first 3 with 3 strikeouts and a game losing error has taken it to a whole new level.

  9. While the offense has been pretty abysmal outside of Adonis, the pitching has been good despite horrid defense from around the diamond (with exception being Ender). If I were a betting man, I’d bet that the defensive miscues becomes a bit less but will be the new achilles heel to the 2016 Atlanta Braves, much like relief pitching was last year. There’s just too many question marks around the diamond…

    1. Freddie’s range
    2. Aybar’s arm and range
    3. The iron glove of Adonis
    4. AJ’s age
    5. Olivera’s “adjustment”
    6. The ability for Markakis to make the routine play, but nothing of real Major League difficulty.

  10. So Daniel Castro can do pretty much everything that Aybar, Beckham, and Jace can do. Also, we should be starting KJ at 2b

  11. In a year we aren’t going to win anything, Jace needs ABs to see if there’s potential to be a .700-.750 OPS utility player. Starting KJ regularly at 2b gives the Braves nothing in the long-term.

  12. So who gets traded at the deadline this year? Will Braves do a fire sale again and bring up the young’uns to take their spots?

    Subtract Cakes, insert Mallex?
    Subtract Aybar, insert Dansby?
    Subtract AJ, insert acquired catcher?
    Subtract Grilli, insert Withrow?
    Subtract JJ, insert Shae?
    Subtract Norris, insert Blair?
    Subtract Chacin, insert Folty?
    Subtract Ogando, insert Tyrell?
    Subtract KJ, insert ummm?
    Subtract O’Flaherty, insert ummm?
    Subtract Francoeur, insert ummm?
    Subtract Stubbs, insert ummm?
    Subtract Beckham, insert ummm?

    I’m sure they won’t do them all, but geez! Gotta think any of those guys that show value will get shopped.

  13. @12

    I think our defensive positioning is bad too.

    1. Freddie’s range- I don’t think we should knock on Freddie’s range. How much do you really need at first? He saves lots of throwing errors.
    2. Aybar’s arm and range- Fair point
    3. The iron glove of Adonis- If he keeps hitting, I am willing to let him figure it out.
    4. AJ’s age- Fair point.
    5. Olivera’s “adjustment”- Fair point. But how hard could it be to play left field?
    6. The ability for Markakis to make the routine play, but nothing of real Major League difficulty.- I think people are too hard on cakes. If he is just average in the field, who cares? He is playing a corner spot.

  14. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the Cardinals could be terrible. Not Braves terrible, but maybe a 72 or 73 win team.

  15. @18 – “I think people are too hard on cakes. If he is just average in the field, who cares? He is playing a corner spot.”

    People are too hard on Cakes; he’s not real good, but he’s fine out there. But as far as who cares? We should all care*. Every extra out in this game matters, and extra outs don’t cease to matter just because they happen in a corner spot. Endruw’s a great help out there, but the minute you start giving guys–especially guys who don’t hit very well–a free pass on defense is the minute you start giving teams a free pass on losing games.

    Cakes isn’t a problem, I don’t think, but we should all hope that he (or anybody at any of our positions) is better than ‘not a problem’ and we should be very concerned if he becomes one, regardless of where he plays.

    *In proportion to how much we care about a shoddy season, anyhow.

  16. Freddie does save a lot of throwing errors but most 1st basemen do that. His pickup ability is likely above average, but Freddie’s lack of lateral movement causes many balls hit down the line to turn into doubles instead of outs makes him a below average defensive first baseman…in my opinion. His arm moves him closer to average but those down the line doubles really hurt.

    I still really like Freddie.

  17. @20
    Markakis is a good complimentary player on a team that needs elite production, whether it be offensively or defensively, from RF starting next year.

  18. In terms of WAR and changing the minimum of plate appearances to 450, Markakis ranked 19 out of 27 with a 1.6 WAR last year. Braves could really use someone to break that top 5.

  19. @22, I don’t get what you mean. He seems to me to be an adequate starter (below avg, above replacement) on a team that has elite talent elsewhere and doesn’t require it from its RF spot. If he’s your cleanup guy, as he was for us last year, you’ve got a chance to be the worst offense in baseball.

    Nevermind–after the 4th time reading your post I finally got it. We’re the team that needs elite production and he’s just a complimentary player for us.

  20. @22-24

    Exactly. Markakis cannot play on a team that also employs Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Mallex Smith/Ender Inciarte, Hector Olivera, and no player that’s top-10 offensively at 3B, C, and 2B. From a cost standpoint, I see no reason to not keep those four guys, but if you have money to spend, spend it in RF or 3B, which means Markakis has got to go. I have a feeling the Braves do what the Angels did in the Simmons trade this deadline or offseason: we trade an average player at the same position and two big time pitching prospects for the long-term answer in RF.

  21. I’d forgotten how much I hate watching A.J. Pierzynski play the game of baseball. I don’t even really care about results in his case; I just hate watching him.

  22. @25

    I agree. The Braves need to find a bat with some pop. Really two bats.

    If Markakis can produce in the first half, we should get an okay return for him. I also wonder if the Braves feel Davidson may be ready in the next few seasons. He is at AA, but he seems at least two years off to me.

  23. @28

    I’ve not heard much at all. I just know he shows BP power, but won’t swing the bat in games. I was a little surprised they started him in Mississippi.

    What all have you heard?

    Edit: Never mind, he is in Carolina.

  24. @31

    I think the FO feels like it is important to build up the middle and then sign corner OFs. Which probably is true, but it would be nice to have more than one.

  25. I thought Gant was more of a gimmick than a truly good pitcher, but he dials it up to 94 and has that splitter. He might not be half bad. It’d be something if he can be like Kris Medlen was in his first year. A non-prospect working as a swing man chewing up key innings.

  26. Most of the time when pitchers have funky deliveries, I think their mechanics will lead to them getting injured more rapidly. In Gant’s case, his mechanics look okay to me. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get lit up when players start timing his delivery.

    In other news we are 3rd place in the division and only 2 games out of the division lead and the wildcard with 160 games left. (-: I think we will be thankful for the Phillies all year long!

  27. @34 — I haven’t heard anything that indicates that Gant is a non-prospect. His ceiling isn’t as high as some of the other arms in the system, so he gets pushed down prospect lists, but he’s not roster-filler.

  28. From down on the farm, watched the Rome Braves tonight. Soroka looked really good with 7Ks over 4IP. Looked to have a good fastball and two good breaking pitches, one a slower curve that was tough on RHH, starting inside the batters box and freezing over the plate. What I liked was he had a mini episode in the 2nd after getting two quick outs – walked a couple and gave up a run, but he righted the ship and was solid thereafter.

    Austin Riley looked good. 3-4 and hit the ball hard. Made some nice plays in the field too. Looks like he could eat a salad or two, though. Acuna hits it hard and can run.

    Good times. May go to Rome more than the Ted this year.

  29. the bullpen phone
    encrypted now as are our own
    Apple injuncted
    all we wanted to know was why Fredi buncted.

    the errant throw
    pejorative pleadings just grow
    swift summon the rookie
    tiring already of faulty Faulknerian nookie.

  30. Corey Seager
    does not want to appear over eyger
    but last night when Schwarber was flattened
    was heard to say the best thing that ever hattened.

  31. @37…

    how he holds on to that plum job for decades in the Media capital of the world is beyond belief..isn’t NYC where all the bright, young, ambitious broadcasters go to make their name? What’s the local explanation if there is one?

    ‘Dominique is magnifique’. Year after year. Idiot HOF stuff.

  32. @43:
    1) Radio is no longer the plum job it once was. The ubiquity of TV and streaming platforms has reduced the allure of radio as a stepping stone.
    2) He is, and always has been, an ass-kisser of the first order. And the Yankees have always had a deep, abiding respect for posterior osculation.
    3) To my acquaintances here, he is treated as sort of an anachronistic joke, a sort of local delicacy, like scrapple in Philly. The cognoscenti are in on the joke and the hoi polloi are getting what they want. If you point out that it might be incumbent for a radio announcer to occasionally set the stage for those who just wandered in, and that this is standard fare for every other competent radio announcer, you get that “you just don’t get it” look and are then reminded of how we got our asses handed to us in 1996.

  33. @44
    lovely, thank you.

    …here’s something new from today’s paper about cheating at sports, always a fascinating topic. And for those too young it provides a link to who Rosie Ruiz was.

    Rosie Ruiz
    said winning the Boston’s a breeze
    but Rio said mommy
    why then all this nasty ignommy?

  34. @40
    Actually Gant was supposedly the throw-in on that deal and Rob Whalen was the center-piece. After last year’s success, Braves came out and said that Gant was always their center-piece. Oh, the convenience of that statement after Gant’s breakout last year.

    I’ll say this though…Gant picked up 3 MPH on his fastball mere months before the trade, as he was topping out at 92 until a mechanical adjustment boosted him to 95. That’s a big reason why he went from an afterthought to a legit prospect that I, for one, have questioned his low rankings on most prospect ratings lists since I saw his arsenal. I wouldn’t doubt if he’s the best pitcher to come from this wave (Man-Ban, Folty, Winkler, Wisler).

  35. 1.) Don’t baseball players and writers alike bemoan the lack of off-days in the baseball season?
    2.) Given point #1, why on earth don’t we move heaven and earth to prevent teams from having 2 off days scheduled in the first week of the season? What a waste. It’s a waste of off-days, and it’s a waste of early-season fan excitement.

  36. @47, MLB extra innings is only free for the first week of the season, and I’m trying to use this week to determine if I actually want to pay $170ish to watch a full season of these Keystone Kops or half that for MLBTV. Could use a couple more games to decide…I’ll probably opt for the latter.

  37. Gant seems to be sneaky good, the way Medlen and Beachy ended up being. None of them were highly rated until they started succeeding in the upper minors and MLB. This is what gives me hope that some of the other guys we’ve picked up in trades (Whalen, Bird, Thurman, Fried, etc.) were carefully selected. We shall see.

  38. @48…

    same for me..what likely will make me go high is with many games on at once you can switch to another one during commercial breaks/blank screens…make the evening more civilized and you learn things about other teams you wouldn’t have…last night for instance the Schwarber collision was high drama…but there’s a downside too, so many of these teams have young guys who can just plain HIT – who’ve already had 2 or 3 homers etc…that’s a downer when you switch back.

  39. @48 @52, if you have access to the MLB Network channel I highly recommend watching during evenings that have a full slate of games. You won’t get your Barves fix satisfied, except for the occasional live cut-in, but you basically get to watch the exciting pieces of every game. Plus the studio hosts and production quality in general are usually pretty good.

  40. @47 — The opening week schedule is set up such that if a team has to cancel their home opener due to weather, they can immediately do the make-up and not have it rescheduled for July or whatever. If you have your own home opener and then travel and play in your opponent’s home opener or vice versa, that’s a lot of off days early in the season.

    Given how many major league teams play in cities that have questionable weather in April, this is a perfectly understandable motive, if not the best result for the fan who watches all their games remotely.

  41. John Gant
    Number one fan of Ronnie Van Zant
    A reverential tribute sendup
    His “Gimme Three Steps” inspired windup

  42. @48
    I have and with my Roku the app.
    Totally worth it. I bring a small hdtv to the deck, plug it in and watch baseball all night with a fire going.
    Usually with a beer in hand, but with this team I may have to go to the harder stuff.

  43. Forty-two years ago today:
    “He’s sitting on 714…Here’s the pitch by Downing…Swinging!…There’s a drive into left-center field! That ball is gonna be-e-e-e… outta here!”

    Yes, No. 2 is correct. Steinbrenner always insisted on having a pinstriped propaganda machine on the mic. The Mets radio broadcasts are more accurate, more informative & more personable — and they have fewer ads shoehorned into the experience.

    Yup, that happened to me this week. Had opening-day tix in The Bronx & it poured on Monday, so I went on Tuesday. Of course, I’ve been to NFL games at the Meadowlands that weren’t as cold, but that’s another story.

  44. He was pretty non-committal on a lot of things, but he did say they want a college bat with the #3 pick. I love me some Florida players, but I’m not sure I’m feeling Buddy Reed for this team. We could always make trades, but I think we’re set on young, left-handed hitting center fielders with minimal power.

    Oh, and while one would expect him to say we’ll see Blair and Newcomb, he also said we should see Sims. We could have 12 pitchers under the age of 25 on the MLB roster this year. Crazy.

  45. I’ll list some other things:

    -No interest in trading Teheran. “Ace and long-term answer”
    -Middle of the order bat and long-term catcher are the focus. Thought it was interesting he didn’t say “long-term” in regards to the middle of the order bat.
    -Would prefer to trade for big time bat. “Free agency rarely (Maddux, Bonds, RJ) leads to impact signings that provide long-term success.”
    -Apparently the real Matt Marskberry asked who rocked the rec specs better, him or Rick Vaughn. Coppy subsequently released him via Twitter. Just kidding.
    -1. Harper. 2. Trout. 3. Correa
    -Mallex is “real close”.
    -Are you tired of hearing the backlash? “Nothing worth doing is easy and I know in my heart the shared vision we have is right for our fans and the future”
    -Polynesian sauce over Chick-fil-A sauce.

  46. Hey, somebody’s gotta win tonight, right?

    My gal puts up with a lotta sports on TV. But there are 2 voices she cannot abide: Stephen A. and Dick Vitale.

    Usually, I flick the channel when they appear & if Vitale is calling a hoops game that I really wanna watch, the audio just goes off. TV announcers usually can’t ruin a game for me, but Vitale is a special case. His voice should be quarantined, only to be heard in cartoonland.

  47. Schwarber out for the year. Good thing they didn’t give up a big piece for Teheran.

  48. Yeah, that’s a damn shame. He’s a ballplayer. Happy travels down recovery road, kid.

  49. Silas Greenback is a frog-inspired Sydney Greenstreet clone whose only resemblance to the vocal stylings of Dickie V would be the shredded hoarseness of their respective larnyxes.

    Dickie V sounds more like Joe Pesci’s friendly uncle.

  50. @49

    John…regarding MLB Extra Innings, in my case via Dish TV, there appears to be a major problem that doesn’t exist if you deal direct with MLBtv, namely the choice of broadcaster, or rather the lack of choice…tonight’s game vs Cardinals carries their sound not ours…when i called Dish i’ve just been told by the supervisor there they have no control over that issue..

    not sure if you were also talking about Dish but could you or anyone else reading this show any light on this? it sure diminishes the end product…which is expensive…i need it because my broadband DSL streaming here in the sticks is at 2.5 MBS…but at least i got to choose my poison out of the booth. Anyone?

  51. Adonis given a free pass, one of the many privileges offered to those more-than-mortals, the demi-gods.

  52. @78, blazon, I have direct tv so I can choose the announcers. Hilariously I choose chip. Also, please take a look at my John Gant clerihew above. Among my modest efforts, I think it’s one of my best.

  53. What will Wisler do with his new four-run lead?

    Related: I wrote it a couple days ago, but the Cardinals are horrible. In the years to come we will look upon their 100-win season as a total miracle.

  54. I wouldn’t count the Cardinals Devil Magic out yet. I’ll believe they’re bad when they actually have a bad season.

    It is so, so frustrating watching this team try to play defense. Holliday had the only hard-hit ball all inning.

  55. I’ve only seen 2 different pitches from Wisler tonight. Fastball and slider. Both are solid, but where is that 3rd option…that change up we heard so much about?

  56. @80
    John…damn that difference, will call MLBtv in the morning..thanks for info

    John Gant…spotted it like a laser…excellent.

  57. Wisler’s looked really solid tonight. He might have a shutout if he played in front of an actual major league defense.

  58. Fredi is going to have to learn to take pitchers out before they are out of gas.

  59. I think we may have found the demigod’s Achilles: You don’t have to throw it anywhere close to the strike zone.

  60. So Fredi brings in Oflaherty to pitch to a righty. 2 pitches later, we’re down and he’s pulled

  61. It’s weird. The team overall is not as terrible as I expected them to be, yet it seems they will struggle not to lose 100 games

  62. Do we not have enough good options to pitch to righties? Grill, Vizcaino, Winkler, Ramirez, the Bills, and we go to the only lefty.

  63. Atrocious team, hellacious schedule through mid-May. This team will start 10-31, at best.

  64. Lol at some of these Ab’s tonight. Stubbs and Olivera taking straight fastballs and Adonis swings at everything. What a performance. No hits after the 3rd inning

  65. It’s laughable to think that some of this detritus is going to have trade value. I mean, Gordon Beckham? We’ll be lucky to get a resin bag for him.

  66. Sample size, but 2/3 of the lineup was hitting below .200 before the game. Not going to plate many Braves with that stat.

  67. Best not to be emotionally invested in this team, guys. Just hoping that guys like Wisler figure it out and these young prospects turn out to be good players.

  68. Guys, guys, guys… I am about to leave the US, so things will turn around starting tomorrow.

  69. ‘And when the strife is fierce, the battle long
    Steals on the air the distant triumph song
    But we are Braves, again we got it wrong
    Hallelujah! Hallelujah! ‘

    Hymns Ancient and Modern

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