Braves 5, Diamondbacks 3

Johan Camargo scored 2 runs and drove in 2 others, and Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers hit (quadruple checks notes) triples; Tyler’s giving the Braves some Luke Leeway with his 2nd RBI of the game in the top of the 8th, after Nick’s diving catch with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the 7th preserved a 4 – 3 lead. Charlie Culberson added 3 hits in place of Freddie Freeman, who got the day off to finish battling a cold. 2nd Lt. Dans now has his batting average up to .429.

Max Fried struck out 7 in his 5 innings, but allowed 9 hits and the runs. They all came in the 4th, on a Nick Ahmed double, Carson Kelly single, and Adam Jones homer.

The bullpen was asked to cover 4 innings, and they managed to hold Arizona scoreless despite allowing 5 hits, helped by issuing (quadruple checks notes) 0 walks, as well as the aforementioned timely defense from Markakis. Luke Jackson went the final 2 innings for his 4th save, working out of a 2 out, 2nd and 3rd jam in the 8th.

New poll. You will trust the bullpen:
A) Come Monday
B) When September Ends
C) In the Year 2525
D) When the WHIP Comes Down

The Braves take the series 3 – 1, and finish the road trip at 6 – 4. St. Louis comes to town Tuesday at 7:20; Mike Foltynewicz and Jack Flaherty scheduled.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

73 thoughts on “Braves 5, Diamondbacks 3”

  1. I choose A.
    California had worn them quite then, We can’t wait to see them home again.
    Come Monday it’ll be alright; come Monday they’ll be holding leads tight. They spent three lonely days in a brown LA haze, but they just need to hold up our side.

  2. I love the positive vibe now, I love the winning road trip. But let’s not get carried away. Folty has still not gotten back to where he should be. Julio is on a current upswing. Let’s see if he can get to Rob’s required 7 good starts in a row to gain some trade value – I’d give him 2 currently although it could be argued that he has had 7 of 9 “decent” starts.

    The bullpen has been good but we do not have 8 solid relievers. Luke Jackson is one. Winkler has been solid and Webb is emerging quickly. I am not yet convinced by Newk. Tomlin has been OK. Venters still shaky. Dayton looked like a possibility but the Braves seem to be protecting him in his first year post TJS with a very small workload. Blevins – bleech. Minter needs to come back but isn’t there. Touki or Bryse or Wright might help but the Braves don’t seem to want to commit any of them to relief.

    Even with things beginning to look good on the pitching side, we still need a good boost. A top starter and a couple of solid relievers would boost this team to top tier (e.g. MadBum, Smith, Kimbrel).

  3. I believe I said that last Saturday, and since then, Teheran has had 2 really good starts. If the Braves’ goal is to have SPs who are making largely nothing except for an actual Ace(TM) who is making real money, I would think they’d have to be hoping Teheran works himself into a tradeable scenario. It just doesn’t seem like they want to pay $11M to be a 5th starter when they have a need for a TOR, and they have Folty, Fried, Soroka, and Gausman. I could be wrong though.

  4. They placed Biddle on the 10-day IL on 4/27. He was assigned to ML rehab on 5/4. How long could they possibly leave him on a rehab assignment before they would need to call him up? He’s on day 16 of his IL stint, and day 9 of his rehab. I guess they would send Kyle Wright down to make room for him when they’re ready. You’d be short a long man, but if Tomlin can’t be trusted in high leverage situations, then he could just become the long man. Of course, these things tend to work themselves out.

  5. Luke Jackson’s first 93 appearances: -0.5 bWAR
    Luke Jackson’s last 18 appearances: 0.6 bWAR

    Of course.

  6. The linked piece here is from the off-season, and it’s really long, but it shows the difference between thinking like Joe and Chip and thinking. Those of us who started reading Bill James in the early 80’s will recognize a classic of the genre. I loved Bill James back then, and he made an enormous contribution to my professional career as well, for which I’ve shamefully rewarded him by not reading him the last 15 years. For Braves fans, the take on Andruw Jones and Gary Sheffield is particularly interesting.
    (I should note that this piece plopped into my Google feed despite its age no doubt because of some googling activity informing my comments a few nights ago. Big Brother is watching, and giving you useful things to read in return.)
    https://sportsinfosolutionsblog.com/2018/12/10/the-hall-of-fame-value-standard/amp/

  7. They will probably activate Biddle after Wright makes an appearance and then sent back down.

  8. @8 The linked piece here is from the off-season, and it’s really long, but it shows the difference between thinking like Joe and Chip and thinking. Those of us who started reading Bill James in the early 80’s will recognize a classic of the genre.

    As much as Joe deserves the negative attention he gets, I prefer to draw the line at attacking the thinking or making it about whether somebody reads somebody or subscribes to the superior opinion-thought-idea-thing. Isn’t it really more about his tone and delivery of his thoughts than it is about whether he is using the superior thinking behind his points?

    And I’d like to point out that Bill James visited some of the forums I participated on as a teen back in the late ’90s. I may never have opened a Bill James book, but I read some of his posts and articles. I guess I can say I knew Bill James back in the day. ;-)

    My feelings on the matter continue to look as such: Joe is not wrong about the importance of wins for a starting pitcher. Your preference for more nuanced stats helps you to see through to the “why” of a counting stat such as wins. Wins, or the lack of, doesn’t mean a starting pitcher hasn’t pitched well or as well, but it’s the conclusion of a story. If you see a pitcher with 20 wins, you can basically conclude one of two things happened. One, it could be that he pitched deeper into games, and so there was more opportunity to be the pitcher of record. Alternatively, maybe the team had a really stout bullpen.

    I’m also the kind of guy who wants to see major league baseball with starting pitchers who are able to go deeper into games and complete more games. I feel like I relate better with Joe Simpson’s rants, at least on this subject. I will probably, and more likely, quit watching baseball if it evolves to openers being the norm. That’s just my taste in baseball. I haven’t enjoyed the analytics-fueled defensive shifts or the numerous pitchers appearing in each game. I like to watch the plays and not so much the math that places defenders right where a line drive is going to fly. There’s far too many missiles being plucked from the air without the defender needing to even take a step… :)

  9. Ok, so Wright was sent down today, and since they are cheapskates they won’t replace him on the roster until tomorrow. Presumably it will be Biddle.

  10. DS: I actually agree with you! I think wins are important as well, or at least they were, but when you move into an era in which the way the game is played reduces the number of wins (or to be more exact, spreads them out a lot more) you have to alter your criteria or conclude that pitching isn’t as important as it used to be. (By the way, that’s not an insane position, though not yet. Imagine a future in which every team carries 12 pitchers who pitch around an inning apiece every day. It’s hard to picture any one of them standing out enough to be in the HOF…. why not just pitch them another inning if they’re so great?)
    But look at what James does in this essay: He starts with a general question, not a specific one. He creates a methodology for measurment. He measures it and uses it. He adjusts it when it leads to stupid results (the catcher’s adjustment.) And, he disagrees with it when it yields a result he doesn’t like, but tries to figure out *why* he doesn’t like the result. Now to be fair to Joe and Chip, he had time, he edited what he wrote, and he thought about it carefully, so if it weren’t a lot better I’d be surprised. Compare with a discussion that consists in: (a) wins are important; (b) wins are going away; (c) therefore CC Sabathia is going to have a hard time getting into the HOF. That’s just time-filler.

  11. By the way, an outstanding part of James’ essay is his treatment of Billy Wagner and Mariano Rivera. He fully admits his methods don’t work for relief pitchers because of the way relief pitchers are used. In the fullness of time, that problem might extend to starters, though it clearly hasn’t yet.

  12. @12 That’s actually not an insane position, I agree. I could very easily see it happen in some form resembling that.

    And yeah, probably Joe didn’t think it all the way through. We’re all basically starting from a position of “This guy needs at least 250 wins but probably more like 300 to have a chance.” but we all are capable of adjusting those criteria once we consider that no one, today, has done what CC has done. Clayton Kershaw has been far more dominating over a shorter stretch but would need to find a second wind to even approach Sabathia’s career. That’s called longevity. :)

    I’ll probably stand more alone in that I prefer to elect great players to the hall based on more than stats or performance. In that article, when Bill James says Andruw was a very good defender, I considered it a real understatement. But then I understood Bill’s stance on DRS and how plenty of CF’ers couldn’t benefit from the value-add of DRS that Andruw’s case would have to rely on.

    I was never on board with Andruw for the Hall because I felt like he physically slipped too early. That’s it. Feelings. I guess have statistical reasoning for it too now.

  13. @10 I’m largely with you on all points!

    I absolutely, positively, without a doubt, unequivocally, vehemently detest the “Opening Pitcher” concept. It’s a gimmick. Tampa does it because they’re cheap. To me, if you’re too broke to field a ML team, move the franchise or fold it. Ok, that’s the end of my rant. Lol.

    I’m torn on sabermetrics, though. I don’t know all the principles, and I’m admittedly not a math guy. I can see their value as being something to help evaluate players based on some of the well educated breakdowns I’ve seen and read. On the other hand, I feel they hurt the game a bit in some ways. I don’t want my baseball to be all about math.

  14. I also love the fact that Tampa Bay is willing to try “crazy” strategies that fly in the face of conventional wisdom. They are producing results better than teams with 2x or 3x or more their payroll. I don’t see why that would foster any hate at all…they are great of for the sport imho.

  15. I am aware that that plugin that links to previous posts is janky, horrible looking, and full of pictures of Amanda McCarthy (which does not bother Chief one bit, though). Working on it.

  16. I cede the internet to krussell @16. I do note, though, that it’s better than arguing about the ASG, a game I do not want anyone on my team to play in.

  17. Even back in the day when pitcher wins were more heavily-referenced, I think most reasonable people understood the limitations of the statistic. It is entirely possible to understand those limitations yet still push back against the argument that wins are completely meaningless, as seems to be popular among some of the more ardent analytics types.

  18. Has anyone taken the stance that pitcher-wins are meaningless though? I thought it was mostly about there being much better ways to evaluate things. The faux round-table discussion that our announcers tried to have on this subject could’ve been really thought-provoking and entertaining for those not-yet savvy enough to keep the sound muted on all Braves telecasts…

    You start simple … 100 years ago a pitcher-win was a great counting stat because, for the most part, the starting pitcher pitched the whole game. Fast forward to now, and maybe we can see why it might have lost something.

  19. 21-Right, they aren’t meaningless, they just don’t mean as much as broadcasters etc. want us to think they mean.

    That said, I think someone here was complaining about Chip explaining how much longer Fried had to pitch for the win saying that was irrelevant. I’d argue that it was very relevant especially given how managers still typically manage to the stat when dealing with Saves or Wins.

  20. Brave at Sea cont.

    Redemption is at hand – this blog is slowly but surely being reshaped by those whose dedication to the idolatry of numbers barely exists. Huzzah! So out with the silly HOF which exists solely as a watering hole for third rate writers to vent their importance.

    So to tomorrow to pay the first visit to a Field that has held my imagination for 70 years, unrequited, Flanders Field. Wow, I am in awe. Life, competition, glory/early death. They are all markers, some we can influence some we can’t. Baseball, as pursued by those who love it exists somewhere in this mottled mix.

    ‘the poppies bloom in Flanders field.’

  21. @17 Let’s say hypothetically TB “starts” a RH pitcher against the Braves, so the Braves go LH heavy. The starter tosses one pitch outside, like a pitchout, and the manager yanks him for a lefty. Would you still love it? I just feel like it cheapens the game. Win with talent and skill on the field, not trickery.

  22. @21 Yeah, it might have lost something. Pitching is just not as good as it used to be. That’s my feelings-driven conclusion based on what I’m seeing. They throw harder, have electric stuff, tear up and break down very easily, and there’s a bunch of guys who are all very much kind of the same. They do well to give you 150 IP, and it’s amazing if they do it three years in a row!

    @22 Yep, wins is not a meaningless stat. It’s just more of a crap shoot to get that W thanks in part to starters frequently leaving ball games after 5 IP.

  23. @24, they have to carry more pitchers on their roster in order to pull that trick on a regular basis. If their throwaway RH is actually good, they burned him for no reason. If he’s not good, or going on 1 day rest or something, then I’m not dumb enough to switch my lineup around in the first place, right?

    Trickery is fair-game imho. Anything within the rules is fair-game. If you want to change the rules that’s fine, but until we do, you can’t blame a team for trying to completely optimize things given the currrent set of rules.

  24. @24 – I totally get not liking the opener aesthetically. But re: the criticism of it as a “gimmick,” and the notion of “Win with talent and skill on the field, not trickery,” everything’s a gimmick until it’s not. This quote is from 1884, re: the curveball–

    “Athletics have come to the pass where they are no longer fair and open trials of strength and skill, but on the contrary, as at present conducted, they train the young men to look upon victory as the rewards of treachery and deceit… For the pitcher, instead of delivering the ball to the batter in an honest, straightforward way, that the latter may exert his strength to the best advantage in knocking it, now uses every effort to deceive him by curving—I think that is the word—the ball. And this is looked upon as the last triumph of athletic science and skill. I tell you it is time to call halt! when the boasted progress in athletics is in the direction of fraud and deceit.”

    The quote is from this SABR story that, to be fair, places it within the context of old-timers of the day being upset that the game had changed & that pitchers were no longer just lobbing the ball up for hitters to wallop, but as it mirrored what you said (albeit in a more wonderfully overwrought way, of course), I just thought it was interesting.

  25. I too have lost interest in the Hall of Morals.

    To me, the existence of a HOF without Rose, Bonds, Clemens; WHILE paid baseball talking heads lobby for people like CC Sabathia no longer make my interest tenable.

  26. @24 If the Atlanta Braves record the 27th out in game 7 of the World Series this year on a hidden ball trick, that wouldn’t bother me one bit.

  27. Thanks, JonathanF for the Bill James link. It’s another reminder of how good James can be, for all the reasons you cite in @12. For those that didn’t discover Bill James in the 1980’s (and many of you have a good excuse, not having been born), it’s hard to appreciate how revolutionary his thinking and writing was. When James first started writing, many baseball insiders (in front offices, field managing, and in the media) really believed that Enos Cabell was a better hitter than Darrell Evans. Why? Because his batting average was fifty points higher. Cabell had no power and never walked, so he hit a very empty .290. Evans walked over 100 times a season and had great power. Now, everyone, even Joe Simpson, would recognize how much better Evan was than Cabell. Another example: many baseball people really thought that the only real qualification a leadoff hitter needed to be fast. No one paid much attention to on base percentage. Hence, Chuck Tanner batted Omar (the outmaker) Moreno leadoff for a full season when his OBP was below .300—but he was fast!

    In inventing the field that came to be called sabermetrics, James did not take the humanity out of a wonderful sport and turn it into a math puzzle (as some seem to think). Instead, he asked interesting questions (such as how much do ball parks affect statistics, or what are the peak ages for player performance), formed hypotheses as tentative answers to those questions, and looked at evidence that supported or reject his tentative answer.

    I brought up Bill James in my critique of Joe Simpson, but not in order to say that Joe doesn’t understand statistics or math. The problem with Simpson is that he doesn’t seem interested in the questions. He convinced himself 50 years ago that the number two hitter in your lineup should be first and foremost someone who is able to hit behind the runner and make “productive outs”. I have the impression that he would not be interested in evidence that shows that making outs on purpose is rarely the optimal strategy for maximizing runs.

  28. By the way, I have little interest in who gets in the HOF. I do enjoy comparing players to each other, especially across generational lines. That may just be a function of getting old. I remember many, if not most, of the players James talks about in the article.

  29. Thank you JonathanF. Reading James article and his take on several players gave me some things to digest. I discovered James in the 90s and greatly admire his work. His discussion and evaluation process for catchers really got me thinking about our own Brian McCann. For years I’ve loved McCann and thought of him as probably winding up his career in the Hall of Very Good but not HofF category. He’s been able to achieve a rather lengthy career by position standards and for at least half of it was one of the best catchers in baseball. He’s currently at 32 WAR according to BRef. I have no idea what his Win Shares are. He seems to be healthy and rejuvenated playing for the Braves again. His production this year is excellent in the time sharing arrangement with Flowers and you could see that continuing a while longer. Catchers who age gracefully are not unheard of. If he can play effectively another 3-4 years with a similar measure of effectiveness does he not start to become a serious HofF candidate given the position adjustment?

  30. to continue…. 7 All Star Games. 6 Silver Sluggers. 273 career home runs. Quite a lot for a catcher. Career OPS+ 112. Because he has been gone from the Braves so long and was in the other league I think I kind of forgot how good a career he’s compiled.

  31. Thanks JonathanF. So by James method and making the 20% adjustment for catchers I calculated he’d score McCann at just over 415. That’s not that close but not that far either from the @ 500 level James uses as his demarcation line and not far at all from the 460 level to become significantly relevant. BMac is also only 3 HR from passing Posada for 7th place all time among catchers.

  32. Edit. When he passes Posada he’ll be in 8th place. Behind Piazza, Bench, Fisk, Berra, Carter, Parrish, and Pudge

  33. I am not a big Joe Simpson fan and agree he can get “old manish” from time to time. But to rip him because he doesn’t 100% buy into analytics, is harsh.

    He grew up and enjoys certain aspects of the game. Others have different view points. He’s not always wrong and analytics also hurt the game to a point.

    Starters only going five innings and eight pitching changes a game are not good. Guys not being able to hit against the shift is bad.
    Not hitting behind the runner to get him over is bad.

    Baseball is an always evolving game.

  34. I’m hoping Dansby has really turned it around this year and is a greatly improved at the plate, but I’m not ready to say he’s resurrected his career just yet.

    In looking at trends, he seemed to peak in the middle of April last year between games 15 and 20 and had a pretty hard fall after that. There were very few high points after mid May.

    This year so far he peaked in the middle of April between games 15 and 20 but has had a very gradual decline.

    I’m pulling for him, but hope we see several high points as the year progresses. Hopefully being fully healthy and having a better contact rate will make a huge difference.

  35. Regarding rule changes targeting the opener, I saw someone mention on twitter the idea that both leagues should have the DH, but that it could only be used while the starter is in the game. Once the starter comes out, so does the DH. Not quite sure how I feel about the idea, but it could kill the opener…

  36. I don’t like openers, but I’d rather allow them as a possibility while simultaneously finding that balance in the game that renders them less advantageous. It’s the same sort of problem I’d attempt to tackle with the # of relief pitchers coming into games. The reason teams are going to relievers so often is because it’s disadvantageous to stay with the starting pitcher late in the game.

    I understand that the game of baseball has changed a lot since the beginning, but at some point we hope to find that beautiful balance that we want to preserve. For me, that looks like 1990-2006 style of baseball. I know that’s not surprising, but that’s the baseball I watched the most.

    Alternatively, the game can continue to change, and it can become something less resembling any sort of baseball we grew up with. And we can all find other sports to watch, too. All of that is fair. And if MLB loses a lot of its fans, that’s fair too.

  37. @ 38,

    Smitty, the rip on Joe is that he derides and chides the modern view of looking at baseball. I happened to hear the C.C. Sabathia conversation. His comments were disconnected from reality. He sticks his fingers in his ears when people try to explain things. He said that C. C.’s strikeouts counted more because most of them came before so many strikeouts. What???? Yes, strikeouts have gone up in the past few years, but C. C.’s entire career is in a high strikeout era.

    This isn’t directed at Smitty. The problem with using “wins” to value pitchers isn’t because pitchers are pitching less innings. The problem is that a large part of the stat reflects on the team’s offense and its other player defense, neither of which have anything to do with the pitcher.

  38. Eliminate warmup pitches during pitching changes (or put it on a clock) – that solves pretty much everything.

  39. Dansby is passing the eye test for me on offense, there’s a lot of hard contact that nearly always manages to find a glove.

    Acuna is worrying me a bit as in too much contact to the opposite field, warning track power usually, while grounding out hard when trying to pull the ball.

    Don’t get me started on Ozzie….

  40. I hope we never see the DH in the NL. There are pitchers that can hit, like Grienke and Bumgarner. I recognize there are those that can’t, too. The thing about that is why should they not have to do something that’s part of the game just because they’re bad at it? There are plenty of position players that can’t hit that well either. Work at it, and get better. If a team doesn’t want their pitchers focusing on hitting, fine, let them be easy outs the same way a guy might be bad at fielding if the club never did infield practice.

    I think the easy solution to the opener issue is to just say your starting pitcher has to go a minimum of 3 innings, or once through the batting order, barring injury. If a SP is pulled before that, he automatically must be placed on IL.

  41. @42 One thing about “Wins” for a pitcher though is that to earn one they probably had to pitch deep into a game, meaning all their other stats were most likely of a reasonably good quality, too. I get not wanting to make them the lone way we evaluate pitching. On the other hand, they should have some meaning- and I’m not sure you’re saying they shouldn’t.

  42. Since Gausman is now serving his suspension, does his spot on the 25 man roster come open? If so, that is 2 openings on the roster to be filled tonight.

  43. Biddle has control. Blevins doesn’t. Sorry Blevins.

    But good for him, though. He’ll get picked up somewhere as a result of his performance with the Braves, I would think.

  44. 50 – I read that comment to mean ability to throw strikes and was about to point out Biddle’s 4.4 BB/9 last year and 7.1 BB/9 this year, but alas, I assume you mean team control upon further reflection.

  45. Biddle pitched well on his rehab assignment.

    Letting Blevins go opens up a 40 man spot.

  46. For pace of play, pastoral elegance, and gentlemanly comportment, the game as it was played in the mid-nineteenth century is unsurpassed. Once they eliminated the bound rule and moved to gloves, it was all downhill. Pretty soon hurlers were trying trickery instead of delivering a hittable pitch.

    Seriously, if you want a brisk game, play by the 1863 rules.

  47. Folty is about a 3 or a 4 on a perennial playoff team, maybe.

    And he’s not close to Mike Clevinger. So there.

  48. And Biddle remains terrible. The demotion to “get my mind right” really helped.

  49. It’s a long season, yadda yadda…but until we can play a competitive series against other playoff teams, I’m not a believer that we’re in that club.

  50. Well they did win three of four in Arizona, but I agree when they play the best (Dodgers, Phillies, Diamondbacks at SunTrust) they do seem to get bent right over.

  51. Folty’s fastball velocity was the slowest tonight since he came back. Maybe it’s time to shut it down and get the bone chips removed.

  52. I don’t see Arizona sniffing the playoffs…but we did play pretty good against them.

    Agree that Folty is damaged/broken.

  53. With Ender going out I was thinking that maybe the Austin Riley rookie of the year campaign would start tomorrow. But after further consideration, it might be Duvall if they play Super-2 games.

  54. People always think more significantly of 4 bad starts when they’re at the beginning of the season and it makes their ERA eleventy billion, but at the end of the day, 4 bad starts in April/May mean the same as 4 bad starts in August when it has negligible impact on your ERA.

    A loss by one run and 17 are the same, but we got a three-for-one with this one because Folty got bombed so hard something will have to happen with him (hopefully just that he makes some adjustments, but we also learned Biddle and Venters are not much improved. Wouldn’t you rather learn all of those things in one loss than figure them out in three losses?

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