Max Fried, the Bromance Continues – Snakes 9 – Braves 6 (by Roger)

I still love, Max. Last time he was great, this time he started off good by not great. He went deep into counts but scraped by through three. The dam finally burst in the 4 th after Fried got the first two outs. Four straight hits later, the D’Backs had a 2-0 lead and Max’s ERA finally went above 0.00. He didn’t look good and totally lost his rhythm – the hitters caught up to his FB and then he threw too many curves. Several hard hit balls pretty much all on the ground. Ender had a chance to bail him out on a sinking line drive but couldn’t make the catch letting the ball bounce out of his glove on the dive.

The problem was that the Braves could do nothing at the plate off Ray early (a Dansby pickoff didn’t help) through the first three innings. I mean they looked pitiful. The only hit they had was a dink by Ender. And then there was …… Acuna-time. Acuna walked his first time and I’m not sure they shouldn’t walk him every time. He does love to golf the low balls. Camargo followed with double smoked to right-center but TFlow struck out and the Braves were still behind 2-1.

After a shaky but scoreless 5 th, Max, himself, got the rally started with a single in the bottom half and scored after Albies singled and Freddie smoked a double into the corner. The D’Backs did the logical thing and walked Acuna but that means you need to pitch to Camargo with the bases loaded. No one should ever do that; Camargo is a hitting machine with men on base and a chance to take the lead – he NEVER fails. And sure enough, Johan smacked a double to left center clearing the bases for a big inning against Ray. Johan is 3/3 with the bases loaded……

Fried had his best inning in the 6 th and left the game having not quite thrown 100 pitches but giving up 2 runs in 6 innings for another quality start. What’s really astounding is that, but for a ball Ender couldn’t hold onto (but does about 70% of the time), Fried could have had another shutout performance
obviously without his best stuff. No Braves pitcher has performed as well as Max yet.

I wanted to end it right here saying the rest of the game was boring, but that would ignore the existence of the Braves incendiary bullpen. Sobotka, Biddle, and Jackson just plain gave away the game – 2 HBP, 3 W, and 2 singles and 4 runs. Sobotka and Biddle never got an out. Even a game-tying HR by Ozzie couldn’t stop the bleeding. After a scary but decent inning by Carle, Minter came and promptly served up a gopher-ball to Walker and the Braves were down for the count and out. A very depressing game as the Braves had no business losing this one.

111 thoughts on “Max Fried, the Bromance Continues – Snakes 9 – Braves 6 (by Roger)”

  1. Is Parsons okay? I know he warmed up a few times, but I’m wondering if there was something wrong. We can’t afford to lose him for any amount of time.

  2. Parsons is in his first professional year as a reliever and has appeared in the third-most games of any Braves reliever. I hope they don’t run him into the ground.

    It just sucks. 95% of the financial commitments the Braves made are on the DL (O’Day, Vizzy, and Venters). Should they have spent more on the pen? Absolutely, but it’s not hard to see why the pen sucks sometimes.

    They need to figure something out. Think of all the pitchers on Gwinnett’s roster between the active and IL: Allard, Burrows, Clouse, Dayton, Folty, Gohara, Newcomb, Soroka, Wilson, Wright. I completely understand why you don’t want to take a starter out of his routine. Gohara still in extended spring training hurts. Dayton’s another guy that’s good enough to help the pen that’s injured (somebody I was excited about).

    Do you put Newcomb in the pen?

    Do you cycle through Allard, Wright, and Wilson in the pen? Who takes a ML rotation spot between Touki and Soroka? Do you put the loser in the pen? There’s just so much freaking talent in AAA or higher on the pitching side, and it largely can’t help us right now.

    Do you trade Bryse Wilson for a solid reliever with some control?

  3. Albies being a complete hitter is a big development.

  4. @3

    Who could’ve predicted that those three pitchers would be on the DL at the same time???? I for one am flabbergasted!!!

  5. Sobotka, Biddle, and Jackson just plain gave away the game – 2 HBP, 3 W, and 2 singles and 4 runs. Sobotka and Biddle never got an out.

    I don’t want to undersell the pen’s implosion last night. They obviously blew the lead and the game, and continue to be a gaping chest wound for the team’s chances long term. But, that said…

    Luke Jackson wasn’t the problem.

    In the seventh, Sobotka came in and got ahead of two batters, but couldn’t put them away. He ended up hitting both of them. (Tim Locasaro, Adam Jones.) He managed to not hit Ketel Marte, merely walking him to load the bases.

    Snitker then went to Biddle, who was equally ineffective. Eduardo Escobar singled to center, driving in two and moving Marte to 3b. Biddle then walks David Peralta to re-load the bases. There are still zero outs in the inning. Snitker goes to the pen again, this time for Jackson.

    Jackson surrenders a single to the suddenly red-hot Christian Walker to drive in the tying run and move runners up again. He then gets Wilmer Flores to roll out to Ozzie at 2b. Not hit hard enough to turn two, but they get the runner at the keystone to break the outs drought. Escobar scores from 3B to make it 6-5 Arizona, with one out and runners on first and third.

    Jackson then intentionally walks Nick Ahmed to reload the bags, and then K’s Carson Kelly and Locastro to finally end the inning.

    It’s obviously never good if a pinch hitter (Locastro) gets two at bats in the same inning, but again, Jackson wasn’t the villain last night. He wasn’t the super hero who came in to a bases loaded, nobody out situation and managed to save the day without any of them scoring. But he did come in, put out the fire and stop the bleeding enough to give Ozzie the chance to tie it up again bottom half. At which point, Minter blew it again.

    I know it’s a habit to punch Luke Jackson by default. But he was one of the better arms last night.

  6. @5 I think it’s also that logic why you don’t want to pay one reliever $15M and he gets injured.

    They need to trade for someone like they should have this past offseason. I get that some of the pitching prospects were untradeable. But if someone like Allard gives you 8-10 good starts down in AAA, just go ahead and deal him for a reliever. Enough already.

  7. Jackson has 8 straight scoreless appearances. And he’s taken the ball when asked every singe time, which is something that’s immensely valuable right now. He’s a good long-to-middle reliever. And he’s cheap. And he’ll be cheap for a long time. And the great thing about these guys is that if they ever lose their effectiveness, you just non-tender them. You’re not committed to them. Every pen needs a Luke Jackson. Just not a setup man Luke Jackson.

  8. There’s also Patrick Weigel out there, who if healthy, would be a factor for the ML staff.

  9. I agree with Sam. Luke Jackson was the only guy to get the outs in the 7th.

    This pen absolutely sucks. They can be serviceable at times when they’re getting K’s. But if what you needed was someone to come in and get a quick K followed up by a masterfully induced DP, this is not the pen you are looking for.

    It’s going to be frustrating when this team is top 5 in offense, top 10 in starting pitching, and unable to keep pace with 1st place because of a bottom 5 pen.

  10. Even more frustrating is IMO a bullpen is the easiest thing to procure for a baseball team. The fact they didn’t, lends a lot of credence to the darker narratives around the Braves.

  11. They clearly attempted to. It just hasn’t worked right now. A bunch of guys are injured, some have been ineffective, and the only starting pitching prospect they’ve converted is 26-year old not-ever-really-a-pitching-prospect Wes Parsons. They clearly thought they would have enough in the pen to be serviceable until May or June, and then they would convert a starting pitching prospect or trade for someone.

    Donny, I don’t think it’s possible that we have a top 10 rotation and bottom 5 rotation. If we’re top 10 in the rotation, it would make it a lot easier to put rejects in the pen. But there’s instability there too

    We’re 9-7 through a tough stretch of the schedule. I thought we’d be below .500 for the month, and we may very well be.

  12. You can literally formulate any statement to read “[x] lends a lot of credence to the darker narratives around the Braves” and Chief would sign up no questions asked. Conspiracy nuts gonna conspiracy nut, I guess.

  13. I would be interested to see someone give a range of what percentage of payroll should be spent on the pen. Is it 10%? 20%? 30%?! How much should you actually spend on relievers with how fungible they are year-to-year?

    The Colorado Rockies are exempt from this study. They spent probably 25-30% of their payroll on relievers, and it did not work. That ain’t it.

  14. Paying Venters was understandable relative to his performance last year, and O’Day I’m good with as it kept the prospect package down for Gausman.

    Vizcaino hasn’t had a healthy season in like ever, and Duvall’s struggles shouldn’t exactly be seen as a surprise.

    We don’t know what Kimbrel’s asking price is, but the 7.5 MM we’re lighting on fire for the latter two seems as though it would’ve helped bridge the gap.

  15. Good recap Roger. Never easy after a bad loss.

    The Roman Pen
    just swarms with young men
    who can pitch spin hurl and throw
    nary a walk, surely the way to go.

  16. Re: Christian Walker. I was excited when the Braves signed him on a minor league deal, i think it was 2 off-seasons ago, and bummed when they cut him. He hit cleanup for the 2010 CWS championship team at UofSC, batting behind Whit Merrifield and Jackie Bradley Jr.

  17. @15, Paying Venters was also understandable relative to the fact that he pitched his arm off his shoulder socket for the Braves in 2010-2012, and for peanuts. And not even the delicious and healthy kind of peanuts, but those circus candy peanuts that are made of processed sugars, corn syrup and despair. For that alone he deserves many more millions, and I’m hopeful he will get them with some kind of cushy executive job for the Braves.

  18. @12 I’m not sure how possible it is either, so I guess we’re about to find out. You can only reasonably expect good starting pitchers to average around 6 IP per start, so there’s going to be room for this bullpen to ruin a lot of nights. If we were regularly seeing starters pitch until the 8th inning, we might be able to mask or hide some rejects, but I don’t think any team in MLB is able to get away with rejects in the pen without paying the price for it.

    I also feel like it’s disingenuous to mention O’Day as some sort of addition to this bullpen. He shown no signs of pitching for this team, as far I’ve seen, and looks an awful lot like dead money. When Anthopolous mentioned O’Day as an addition to the bullpen during the off-season, there was a collective eye roll from the media and fans.

  19. I’m not sold on a plan to address the bullpen internally. The pitchers in the minors have also been exposed to whatever development process has left all of the Braves’ major-league pitchers incapable of throwing strikes. In the medium term, they probably need to fire a bunch of their minor-league pitching coaches, but in the short term they need to bring in relievers from outside the organization.

  20. I don’t approve of how the bullpen was constructed, but that phase of the discussion ended with the off-season where we did literally nothing to address the pen. We had opportunities to make big or medium sized additions to the bullpen, and it didn’t happen. I think the best course of action is to explore our internal options and avoid an over-payment. It’s very possible to make a bigger mistake while trying to correct the off-season mistake, and we don’t want a GM who does that.

  21. Do we attach any importance to the fact that our pitching coach is/was absent for something like a week?

  22. This one sucked. Great recap though, thank you.
    This is a great Ozzie fact, Rob @4.

    Gausman is gonna get ’em tonight, watch him go 7+ innings. Go Braves!

  23. @6 Yeah, Sam, you’re right about Jackson. That was a function of trying to keep it shorter than my usual posts… :-) If I had added another five paragraphs, it would have been too much. Bit I even commented last night about needing to quit ragging on Luke and that he did come in a close the inning. He was no hero, as you said, but he did pitch effectively.

    I originally didn’t mention Jackson, but he came in an we still had a lead and when he left we were behind. Not his fault, really, but the goal is not to lose by a small margin but to win by one.

  24. @3 Hence the idea of consolidating value. Whether that’s a TOR SP or a shutdown closer – you gotta go one way or the other. Having everyone with a lot of potential but no realized value does very little good when you’re trying to win. The inability to convert potential into realized value is what has hurt the Braves this year.

  25. I was particularly bummed about Minter’s performance. Without a trade or a FA, Minter is expected to be the shutdown closer both now and in the future. When he under-performs, it’s worse than other guys who we expect to have their ups and downs.

  26. @6 Another thing Sam points out and I alluded to in my recap is that a lot of the pitchers including the relievers had a lot of 0-2, 1-2 counts and couldn’t put hitters away. I have been thinking for quite a while now that our pitch calling is not very good and when Flowers is in, it’s worse.

    They really do go after hitters with the first 2-3 pitches but, if they get ahead, they start nibbling trying get hitters to make mistakes instead of forcing hitters to make mistakes. That ends up wasting pitches and turning short counts into long counts with walks. It’s not all Flowers’ fault. The goal of a waste pitch is to throw it close enough that it looks good not three feet outside or in the dirt. With Sobotka, Flowers should have had him throw nothing but FBs and sit the target in the middle of the plate and let him be effectively wild.

    Framing is one thing but, to me, it seems like targeting and pitch calling are not being done well.

  27. Rob @ 14,

    Let’s try an exercise.

    I once read a study that says pitching is 45% of ML team performance, hitting is 40%, and defense is 15%. Seemed pretty valid for me. Defense and pitching get the edge because the lower the scoring environment, the more valuable a run becomes. Therefore a run saved is worth more than a run scored.

    So, if ML payroll is an even 100 mill, then as pitching total gets above 45 million, it is being weighted higher than offense. Then, you have to split that into “starters” and “relievers.” Usually at least one minor leaguer and one “long man” are available for potential 6th and 7th starters. Starters get around 2 / 3rds of the innings, so on a purely ratable basis, that means spending over 15% is paying more per inning in the pen than in the rotation.

    Raise it to 140 mill and that would say the whole pen shouldn’t cost more than 21 mill.

    In individual cases, obviously this could vary. The Braves don’t have anywhere near 42 mill tied up in starters. Without going and getting a Greinke or a Corbin, it will not get near there for at least 5 years (figuring Julio, Folty, and Gausman move on and young un’s keep replacing). So, the Braves CAN afford to overweight the bullpen.

    I still feel like with all of the great pitchers Braves have in the upper minors, not making major bullpen moves was wise. We need those guys working appropriate numbers of innings and working some of those at the ML level. These guys represent upside. Think about Francisco Rodriguez on the Angels (2001?). Out of nowhere their pen went from suspect to elite. Bryce Wilson or Gohara or half a dozen others could be that guy.

  28. @27 Part of the problem with the pen is the Braves would like Minter to be a closer, I think- but he’s just not. Minter’s meant to be a set-up man. They should be playing match-ups with him, because righties hit him pretty decent. Interestingly enough, he also has an ERA a shade below 5 (4.93, to be exact) at Suntrust Park.

    They need to quit messing around, and just go sign Kimbrel.

  29. Watching Phils and Mets. Man, both Arrieta and Wheeler are taking sooo long to throw a pitch. Tough to watch.

  30. @32 Definition of modern day baseball. The 7th inning of yesterday’s game lasted 47 minutes… Greg Maddux would be cruising into the 5th after 47 minutes.

  31. One popular opinion seems to be the idea that the Braves should turn some of their young SP into RP, but I think that’s a bad idea in the short-term. Someone touched on it earlier, and I’ll mention it again- these young guys have shown an inability thus far to throw strikes. Walking the world out of the ‘pen won’t remedy anything.

    @29 I believe not addressing the ‘pen with some major acquisitions was the biggest mistake the Braves made.They’re trying to catch lightning in a bottle now. Sure, it could happen; but what are the odds?

    I also wouldn’t be incredibly anxious to start converting Starters into Relievers, unless it’s to the benefit of the individual. Gohara, for instance, might be a guy it makes sense for? You’re diminishing their value when you make that move, though. A young starter, even if they’ve struggled, always has more value than a reliever. Other clubs always have that belief that they can fix them. They’d be better off flipping a guy they don’t believe in for a dependable RP they can trust.

  32. @32 @33 Why rush the experience though? Maybe it’s just my personality type, but I don’t understand it. When I enjoy something, I don’t want to rush through it; and watching baseball is fun.

  33. @35 Because sports is about watching the action and not the inaction. I think a lot of time is straight up wasted on pitches missing the strike zone. I think we’re seeing a lot more pitches than we used to.

  34. @ 36,

    Yes, you are seeing more pitches per plate appearance than ever before. Part because of not hitting the strike zone and part from more 2 strike uncatchable foul balls.

  35. Andy Simms tweeted this and it’s a fine point to all who are saying we should’ve fixed the pen in the offseason. Top 5 free agent contract to RPs so far this year:

    Britton 4.05 ERA 1.80 WHIP
    Familia 6.48 ERA 2.16 WHIP
    Ottavino 1.13 ERA 1.000 WHIP
    Miller 6.35 ERA 2.12 WHIP
    Kelly 12.27 ERA 2.32 WHIP

    So unless you got Ottavino, you are getting poor performance and paying $$$.

    I prefer our approach. You shouldn’t spend your resources on the pen given how volatile relievers are and we have more than enough arms to cover the innings, it’s just a matter of figuring out which ones can thrive in pen.

  36. @34, in general, you can survive in the pen with a higher walk rate than you can in the rotation. (E.g., Carlos Marmol and Mauricio Cabrera had success in the bullpen.)

    It also depends on why they’re walking the world. Are they nibbling because they’re trying to save their bullets? The bullpen can be a good place for a young pitcher to develop his confidence that he can get major league pitchers out, where he doesn’t have to worry about getting 18 outs, just 3.

  37. I’ve thought Tyler Flowers’ pitch calling was bad going back to last year. I think our pitch calling is bad in general, but it seems worse when he’s in the game, and he never gives his pitchers much of a target, always setting up in an extreme corner of the strike zone.

    Folks were so enamored with his pitch framing, though, that nobody ever seemed to notice that the pitch calling and lack of control was worse when he was in the game.

  38. Soroka scratched from his start at Gwinnett tonight. It appears he will start for Atlanta tomorrow.

    M-M-M-Mike Soroka!

  39. @40 Actually, ever since Mike Soroka, I’ve been convinced that Flowers is bad at pitch calling. Soroka’s 2 best starts were with Suzuki behind the plate. In all the ones with Flowers, Soroka suddenly walked people and couldn’t make it through the 5th.

    I’ve just been eagerly waiting for McCann to return.

  40. Also, it’s not unusual for a young pitcher to get their feet wet as a reliever. You can always stretch them out to start again. (Max Fried says hi!) The idea of their value diminishing because of this isn’t true.

  41. I’m far from an orthopedist, but I’ve had 2 torn labrums, one on each shoulder. And I guess Vizzy had labral repair surgery. If this is the reason why he’s never pitched a full season, then I don’t get that. They could have cut him up last October, and he would have been fine by July of this year.

    Who makes that decision? The player? Then why not non-tender him?

  42. So, I assume that Viz’s surgery wasn’t out of the blue and they’ve had good knowledge of this for at least a week or two. Maybe the timing of those extensions could mean that we’re prepared to make a trade soon…

  43. 47 — They obviously wanted to avoid shoulder surgery because there is a good chance he will not be an effective pitcher again. It appears they were hoping against the odds that it would heal on its own.

  44. Labrum/shoulder issues are what turn Tommy Hansons into Tommy Hanson with the Angels. Forget “with the Braves.” This is career ending type of surgery for an MLB pitcher. Period.

  45. A couple thoughts from up the board…

    I too think that the Braves need to take a SERIOUS look at their minor league pitching instruction, training, teaching and everything. Some folks may need to go.

    And for all the folks just wanting to dump a bunch of slightly post-pubescents into a major league bullpen, its not that simple. Pitching in relief is a mentality. How you prepare, train, all that is different. It is REALLY not this simple.

    And again, Minter is not a closer.

  46. Once again, not an orthopedist, and neither are you, and I don’t think you can definitively say that it’s a career ender if you don’t know to what degree and what type of tear. Could be public relations speak, but they’re saying they “cleaned it up”, which tells me it’s a partial tear, which I think is a severity a pitcher can recover from.

    For me, I just don’t understand how if a pitcher can easily get an MRI, can easily see that he at least has a partial tear, why not just have the surgery in the offseason? Torn labrums don’t heal on their own; you just learn to deal with it. I just don’t see how you can justify, as a player, trying to pitch with a torn labrum, especially when you know it’s torn. This just doesn’t compute for me.

    Like I said, I don’t know much about much from an orthopedic perspective, but I feel like I’ve learned enough about the labrum to know that if you want it to work right, you have to cut it up unless it’s so small that you just deal with the pain. There’s no third option of letting it heal.

    This sucks. And if this explains why Vizzy has never pitched a full season in his career, then that’s really, really frustrating. I would just like to know how this all developed, but of course we’ll never know that.

  47. @51 – I don’t think it’s necessarily a guaranteed career-ender. Michael Pineda had labrum surgery (+ TJ), and has been pretty good so far this year with the Twins.

    I do think we’ve seen the last of Vizzy in a Braves uniform though.

  48. I vote “We’ll try to do some things there.” as the new BravesJournal tag line. Any other takers for that??

  49. I think this is the first injury where I’m kinda mad at the player. I’ll need to do my own research, but I just don’t know how he’s gone year-to-year not staying healthy and then this. It’s not like other pitchers where you just have different body parts failing. All I’ve heard about Vizcaino is his shoulder.

  50. For anyone with Sam Freeman nostalgia, he’s walked 5 in 7 innings at Angels AAA.

    And anyone pining for Grant Dayton, I believe he’s on the 7 day IL at Gwinnett.

  51. The tv guys are talking about how good the Braves keystone combo is. Chip says they could be as good as Trammell-Whitaker or even Blauser-Lemke.

    That’s like saying a songwriter could be as good as Bob Dylan or even John Denver.

  52. I think its possible that Swanson-Albies is already better than Blauser-Lemke.

    But not Trammell-Whitaker, LOL.

  53. Cliff, I like that reasoning. That means that the pen should be at around $20M, which is pretty close to where it’s at after factoring in minimums for the rest of the pen. But you’re right; with little going to the rotation, it seems the money is disproportionate spent on the offense.

  54. I see Braves State Media is using the “Draft Pool Money is More Important Than Winning” approach.

    Stooges

  55. @64, LOL. Those are so much more easy to appreciate when I’m not actually watching the game.

  56. I have never put much focus on pitch framing. However, if you watch Joseph from the Dbacks, he looks like a poor pitch framer. I don’t know if stats back that up, but most of the time his mitt seems to go in the direction of the ball, not the plate.

  57. I mean, draft pool money is uniquely valuable and way more valuable than real money. I bet they’re really hoping they can wait through June.

  58. It’s crazy how bad of a start the Red Sox have had. With a 6 and 13 record, not having Kimbrel is the least of their concerns.

  59. @76
    Well, not upgrading the pen in the winter was foolish and now they need to do something.
    They can still get the same guy in the 8th round

  60. Interesting. Dbacks have a new catcher and the pitcher seems to be getting more borderline strikes than Godley did all game.

  61. Yeah, looked like he had gotten another one.

    Glad they have Minter in in a tie game. He needs to get his confidence back. He’s better than he’s shown.

  62. Biddle just can’t throw strikes to lefties. Damned weird.

    He keeps rushing his delivery over and over. Whenever he calms down and pitches without rushing, he throws a strike.

    Three freaking walks.

  63. They should have taken him out after the error. He got overly hyper after that and couldn’t settle down.

  64. Wow. Donaldson has looked really really bad the last couple of days. He hasn’t hit anything hard since his last HR.

  65. Wow, this Diamondbacks reliever looks real good. They signed him for 1YR/$3M this offseason. Guess that was too rich for our blood.

  66. @107 5Ks in his last 9 ABs. He hasn’t come close to touching a breaking ball and the D’Backs are throwing him nothing but breaking balls.

  67. @105 Holland was a disaster last year. Worse dumpster fire than any of our guys after he, like Kimbrel, didn’t sign until after the season began. So he was not a hot property this winter.

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