gNats 4, Braves quietly crashing back toward expectations

Yesterday we tipped our hat to Max Scherzer and pretended like that was an actual, legitimate “stolen base” rather than defensive indifference, but whatever. Today we tip our hat to…

No. No we do not. Stephen Strasburg could literally invent a time machine, go back into history, murder Stalin and Hitler in their cribs while ushering in a thousand years of pristine liberal democracy and we would still not “tip our hat to him.” Some people are simply beneath us.

Sure, the skinny freak followed up Scherzer’s pristine performance with 8 innings of shutout ball of his own, but let’s be honest. They’ve shut down the Braves offense these last two nights primarily by having Preston Tucker and Ryan Flaherty remember who they actually are.

Additionally, Kurt Suzuki hasn’t really found much of a swing yet, Carlos Perez is precisely what you’d imagine a player to be having picked him up from the waiver wire literally after spring training ended, and Ender Inciarte is still abjectly lost at the plate.

On the upside, Neck continues to feign offensive usefulness and Dansbo is still teasing us with a performance of “let’s just pretend last year never happened, ‘kay?”

Foltzenewicczrzdraddrake wasn’t bad, but he was inefficient this time through the Nats order. Which is why he didn’t last past the 5th. I mean, he’s still a’ight and all, but there’s way better trap music out there bruh.

The Braves continue to ride early season production to a run differential that says “they’re actually pretty good,” but once again, let us all sing the song of small sample size theater before we get crazy up in here. The loss drops them back to 6-5, where they are tied with the Nats for 2nd in the East, behind the absurdly fast starting Mets (9-1.)

No, no one actually believes in the Mets’ fast start. Not even Mets fans. It’s 11 games into the season. They will choke. They’re the Mets.

In the 11th game of 1991, Steve Avery went 6 full giving up only 1 run, at Chavez Ravine. The Mike Stanton we still call “Mike” Stanton had a two inning hold, and “Senor Smoke,” Juan Berenguer muddled his way around a hit and a walk in the 9th, even though we led 7-1 by then. If there had been an internet at the time, everyone would have been shouting for Bobby Cox to be fired for running his closer out there in a pointless situation.

The offense was firing on all cylinders. Seven of the eight position players got on base multiple times. Even Mike Heath, who caught that day, and you forgot even so much as ever existed. Only Raffy Belliard failed to get on, going 0-5. But he didn’t strike out or anything, and with Pacman that was actually sort of an offensive outburst.

Bobby Ojeda took the loss.

81 thoughts on “gNats 4, Braves quietly crashing back toward expectations”

  1. From last thread:

    The first two guys in the order will never walk – Inciarte because you can groove one down the middle and just see how close to the warning track he might hit it, and Albies because he swings at pretty much everything.

    Ozzie Albies across all levels of the minors: 304/365/424.

    Ozzie Albies in two MLB seasons: 279/339/479.

    For a guy that “never walks” he sure seems to have 50-60 points of OBP on top of his base batting average somehow. Weird.

  2. Sam working under a dark cloud.

    C’mon, we miss your cheery, ebullient self.

    But thanks anyway.

  3. The two roster spots in question when Camargo and Acuna arrive are the backup INF and 5th OF spot. The players pushed out will be Culberson, and gosh, what maybe should be Bourjos now. It’s disappointing to have to make the decision based on only 11 and 12 PAs respectively for Adams and Bourjos, but there’s a 1.038 OPS difference between the two, so it’s pretty wide gap. With that said, a lot of the OPS difference is because Adams got to hit a home run off a backup infielder against Philly, and Bourjos didn’t have said opportunity. Would he have? I don’t know, but still.

    So Bourjos and Culberson are your worst performers, and they are currently 2-25 with 1 BB and no XBH. Flaherty has been great, but he’s now 2 for his last 12, and another couple 0-4’s would see his OPS go down a couple hundred OPS points, and he’d be pretty much right back where you’d hope he’d be: a .700-ish OPS backup INF. So it’s been real, it’s been fun, but I’m ready for Flaherty to be the guy off the bench and Camargo in there to truly see what we got.

    Same with even Tucker’s role, but more importantly, our PHs are 3-14, which is 11th in the league. But once again, one of those hits was Adams’ home run off Philly’s SS Philemon or whatever book of the Bible that guy is.

  4. I like Culberson’s defense better than Flaherty’s. I also like having the backup SS be physically identical to the starting SS, right down to the flowing locks of sweet, sweet mullet.

  5. I would also like to proactively remove the voice of krussell and Chief by acknowledging that these next few days could get rough. One more game against Washington, and then three more against the Cubs. McCarthy vs. Home Run Hittin’ AJ Cole, Anibal vs. Darvish, Newcomb vs. Quintana, and Teheran vs. Chatwood. At the end of the day, we are extreme underdogs in the month of April, and we knew that from the beginning.

  6. Are you willing to trade up to 200 OPS points for Culberson’s defense over Flaherty’s? Culberson also has options too, so there’s that.

  7. @6 Good point on the schedule – once the Braves finish their road trip vs. the Cubs (who, thankfully, are not firing on all cylinders yet), we get Phillies and Mutts at SunTrust and then back on the road to face the Reds and Phillies. Not only will the schedule get easier, but Acuna’s service time games will be over by the time the Braves get back from Chicago on Sunday night.

  8. My favorite #Braves game:1. Replace Tucker with Acuña2. Replace Flaherty with Camargo3. DFA/Trade Anibal, replace with Gohara4. DFA/Trade Perez, replace with T-Flow5. DFA/Trade Bourjos, replace with Tucker6. DFA/Trade Luke Jackson, replace with Flaherty— Ryan Cothran (@baldheaded1der) April 11, 2018

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Yes, yes, yes. Not wording it exactly like that, but as it sits, we’re probably 5 players short of a big league roster: Anibal, Jackson, Bourjos, Culberson, and Perez. Replace with Gohara, Biddle(?), Acuna, Camargo, and Flowers, and we’re looking a lot better.

  9. @9 And that’s just one of the ways this team will probably get better as the season progresses. Another way is for this starting rotation to mature through the likes of Foltynewicz and Newcomb becoming more consistent (even if Newcomb isn’t destined for the rotation as anything more than a #5). Have to think that even an average rotation is much better than what this team has lived with.

  10. Even with the slightly better performances, we still have the 3rd-worst rotation in ball per WAR. K/9 we’re 5th in all MLB, but every other area we’re really bad including 29th in HR/9, 19th in BB/9, and 19th in FIP. If we cut down tick the walks a tick and keep the ball in the ballpark a little better, we’d be in good shape.

  11. Probably part of the reason for that high K/9 is a ton of pitches nibbling at the zone versus just going after hitters. But.. then.. if they go after hitters, they will probably give up more HR. Take that for what it is.

  12. @#9 I agree 100% especially with Biddle but I might take Anibal over Carle. And an improvement then over Anibal and Ramirez would be another step forward. I think Max Fried over Anibal as the long man but that may be a couple of months away – although Fried’s first start was perfectly adequate. I am not sold on Camargo; he still seems like a future Flaherty to me. Hanging my hat on some 3B deadline action later this season.

    I also think you guys are overreacting to the last two games. This same team beat Scherzer at STP.

    Also have serious concerns about Flowzuki being able to repeat.

  13. You guys will call me nuts, but I seriously doubt that Inciarte is on the next great Braves team. IMO, if we aren’t looking to upgrade that position we should be. Even if via draft of a college CF that might be say 2 years away, etc. How hard can it be to find a CF that hits .280, hits 13-20 HR per year instead of 8 and plays at least above average defense?

    And YES I know this team has MUCH bigger holes to fill but to completely dismiss CF as not one of them I think is faulty.

    Flowzuki is going to crater. If you look at the history of non-elite catchers, meaning not Buster Posey or even say Realmuto level etc. they are historically very erratic and fluky.

  14. Chief, why in the world would you want to replace Inciarte? He’s a really good player at a position where it’s famously difficult to find a really good player.

    This is a really dumb question but… where’s Don Sutton? Did he retire and I just missed it?

  15. Albies rally does need walk more. OTOH, if he keeps slugging .600 I’m not complaining

  16. @19 I don’t value defense, he’s an empty hitter, IMO. He has OPS+’d better than league average exactly one time and that was 100.

    Doesn’t hit a lot of 2B or 3B.

    Take out his inflated D #s and he’s just a guy.

    And before people’s heads explode, I just don’t value defense unless it is at the marginal extremes. I.e. if its Simmons’ level, OK, I value it. If its Pete Incaviglia or Kemp in ATL level bad, I value it. Anywhere in between, I don’t really think it makes very much difference.

  17. Chief, Ender had 27 doubles, 5 triples, and 11 homers last season. There’s no reason to think he won’t hit a few more on average during his prime. Plus 20 stolen bases.

    I’ve not been disappointed with him, but an upgrade is always welcome if one is easily within reach. I’d love to have a guy like him as a utility outfielder/bench bat.

  18. Well, okay. But that’s sort of like saying that you don’t value curveballs if they’re worse than Clayton Kershaw’s.

    Ender Inciarte does literally everything well other than hit homers, and last year as a 26-year old his power spiked to double-digit homers for the first time. Center field is one of the only two positions on the diamond that is definitively solved, and you’re determined to treat it as a problem.

    Be my guest, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  19. Is there a reason we lifted McCarthy after the 5th inning? The guy was cruising along and had only made 61 pitches.

  20. We got lucky there. After the homer, which wasn’t a bad pitch, Viz lost the plot again.

  21. That’s the second replay in the last few games in which it appeared clear that the call should be overturned, but was upheld. Do you suppose they are applying a stronger presumption that the original call is correct?

    Has anyone noted and commented on this in other games, or is it just an unlucky fluke for the Braves?

  22. @46–seemed clear to me that his hand was on the plate when he was tagged on the helmet.

  23. It looked to me like his helmet was falling off anyway and catcher tagged his chin/ chest.

  24. I just watched video of the Inciarte steal of home replay review (available here). Close play, but he was definitely safe. The review crew has access to excellent video from multiple angles and should have been able to confirm that the tag did not occur until after Ender’s hand touched the plate.

    (Hopefully the Braves will close out this win and make it a moot point, but I still wanted to mention it.)

  25. @56 It was sorta bang-bang. It had what the umps are generally looking for, which is the ball got there in plenty of time and the applied tag was generally in the right place, but if you really want to examine it closely it does look like the hands maybe get in there first.

    Having said that, when it comes to reviews the original call usually requires insurmountable evidence to overturn. This wasn’t the case. Had the ump called him safe, then that too probably would have been upheld.

  26. Today’s Prospect.

    Sam Biddle
    will never throw one RDBMiddle
    his DNA forbids it
    none of his ancestors ever dids it.

  27. If only there were a repository of data and information about people like Don Sutton where we could look up things like this…

    He left TBS after the 2006 season, mainly because the network would broadcast fewer games in 2007 and had to cut back on the number of broadcasters.

    Sutton was a color commentator for the Washington Nationals on the MASN network until January 27, 2009.[30] Sutton still had two years remaining on his contract with the Nationals, but when an Atlanta Braves radio job opened up, he negotiated his release in order to return to Atlanta where he had many ties.[31] His current broadcast partner is Jim Powell, who joined the Braves Radio Network in 2009.

  28. I think Sutton might have some health things going on and he doesn’t travel on road trips.

  29. Ronald Acuna will have to be something very special to supplant Ozzie in my affections. At the plate, in the field, on the bases. He epitomizes must watch. That HR swing was a thing of beauty, so smooth it was gentle. I was wrong about his arm, ’nuff said.

    Minter…truly impressive in the 8th.
    Neck…very important smother of Harper liner late.
    Suzuki…kept us alive, move family to Atlanta.
    Freddie…continues to be Mr. Sociable on the field…no wonder Harper wants to come to Atlanta.
    Peter B..a reprieve maybe as pink slips are prepared for the two others.

  30. Our projections for Kurt
    Even more dour than Steamer’s
    And he cratered all right-
    Cratered baseballs like Mimas

  31. @ 65: well said.

    God bless Don Sutton. Sam did not make him sick, although he and I made each other sick a few times over the years.

    Cancer sucks and is a poor topic for humor. I apologize and will behave henceforth.

  32. @26. Am I crazy to think I’ve already seen enough to say 2B is also definitively solved?

  33. It was widely reported. When it happened. At the turn of the century. Once again, let us delve into the mysterious record of all knowledge, Wikipedia:

    In 2002, Sutton was diagnosed with kidney cancer resulting in the removal of his left kidney.[28] Part of a lung was removed the following year. While undergoing cancer treatment, he continued his broadcasting career.

    Sutton had cancer in 2002-2003. He lost a kidney and half a lung. He was touch and go there for a minute. He “beat it” as much as anyone ever “beats” cancer. His reduced travel schedule over the last few years has more to do with him being a radio-only broadcaster since returning to Atlanta from the Nationals’ booth than it does with the cancer from 2002.

    Of course, Don Sutton is also SEVENTY FRIGGIN THREE YEARS OLD, so maybe that has a little to do with the limited travel schedule as well.

  34. Also of note, Aaron Blair was pulled in the bottom of the third in that game with some injury. MiLB.com’s version of GameDay hasn’t updated with what that injury might be. Two out, two on. Threw a wild pitch, got pulled after an injury visit.

  35. Banda goes 5.1 of one run ball (solo HR to Danny Santana) and the gives way to… JONNY VENTERS!!

  36. Rob… @67

    I doubt I was the only one puzzled/disturbed by what appeared to be your overreaction to Sam’s previous post re Don Sutton’s health. You offered no explanation to justify your curt choice of those two words.

    So a lot of us will be left wondering what on earth is this all about, why your anger.

    If (and this is a pure guess) there is word about in the inner sanctum this is a topic that must not be discussed on this or any other Braves board, by Sutton’s request, and you agreed to do that, on your own, then we are on a slippery path, the C word. You know, we don’t, by your choice.

    Don Sutton is and has been an integral and respected part of the Braves for a long time. That makes him newsworthy. And your function as Editor does not leave you free to choose what you do or do not let us share. Let alone jumping on others who do.

    If my guess is wrong then please advise and I will withdraw that paragraph. But the bad manners, whatever it was, will have upset not a few. It jarred.

    I am an admirer of your Editorship. Please let’s sort this out.

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