Braves 5, Cards 2

Wow, what’s not to love right now? The Braves starting pitchers have a 2.68 ERA in the last 14 days, and a 2.27 ERA in the last 7, and last night it was Mike Foltynewicz’s turn to twirl. After throwing 82, 90, and 99 pitchers in the three starts preceding it, Mike threw only 67 pitches in his last outing. And he did that in an efficient six innings, and Snit said later that he wasn’t feeling quite right. But Folty came back throwing 89 pitches last night, and he had another great start, throwing 6 innings with no earned runs, no walks, and seven strikeouts. That’s 12 straight innings without a walk for Folty. The reports of his demise seem to have been greatly exaggerated.

Similar growth from the bullpen. After being abysmal for the beginning of the year, the Braves’ pen also has an impressive 2.52 ERA in the last week. It’s amazing what happens when you put good pitchers in the bullpen. Huh. Jerry Blevins got his lefty for the first hitter in the sixth, Dan Winkler got the remaining two, then Anthony Swarzak contributed a scoreless 8th (his second scoreless appearances for the Braves), and then Sean Newcomb finished it off, though he gave up a home run to Matt Carpenter. That was Newcomb’s second straight outing giving up a home run, though.

So the pitching, while fragile, continues to round into form, every night the Braves have a hitter who can carry the team. Last night it was Dansby Swanson, who hit two home runs and drove in three. Dansby sits at 1.2 fWAR for the year, increasing his pace now to a full season of a 3.7 fWAR. In the last week, Dansby is hitting .370/.414/.704 with 3 HRs (193 wRC+). He continues to be a streaky hitter, but his highs are vastly outweighing his lows. Finally.

One negative note: I’d really love to see Ronald Acuna avoid some of these mistakes in centerfield:

He’s still really struggling on balls hit directly over his head. He gets turned around easily, but he doesn’t have the hands to make the corrections at the last moment. He’s just going to have to learn to make better reads. But when you have 6.4 bWAR in your first 162 games according to this article from MLB.com, I think we can let some things slide.

Also, a gentleman from the Jim Rome Show emailed me asking me to share this interview with Austin Riley. Enjoy!

54 thoughts on “Braves 5, Cards 2”

  1. I went back and forth from listening on the radio and tv. When Newcomb got in I think Joe Simpson said just throw strikes Sean, if he hits a homer you are still 3 runs ahead. Newcomb gave up a homer on the very next pitch.

  2. Newcomb has not worked a single hitter in 9 appearances in relief. He walked 8 in 12 innings as a starter. That has to be one of the weirder happenings of this season. I wonder if it was just the natural consequence of being demoted after 52 major league starts, or if the organization gave him a clear directive or ultimatum. It’s really an incredible about-face.

  3. And now the Washington Post is reporting that the Braves are being questioned by federal authorities about recruiting in latin america. Fortunately it is a wider probe about buscones and Cuban players, which we don’t have any more. A certain third baseman/left fielder who will remain nameless on this website has already given grand jury testimony.

  4. I can’t find the game by game breakouts readily, but a quick glace at Newcomb’s Fangraphs page suggest that he’s abandoned the change in favor of the slider.

    In 2019 he’s throwing the four seam fastball a tick over 65% of the time – an increase of 2-3% over his two previous seasons as a starter. More definitively, he’s throwing the slider more frequently than previously – up from just over 4% to 7.4%.

    You see a corresponding drop in usage of the change from last year, down from 19% to 11.7%.

    All of which comports with what you would expect to see from a guy converting from starting to relief. Coming in from the pen, not needing to throw multiple innings very often, Newk can rely on his fastball and slider, and keep people honest with the occasional big curve, while abandoning his most ineffective pitch (the change.) I’d also expect to see his fastball velo climb over the course of time, if he stays in relief.

  5. Call me crazy, but I think Newcomb might be better suited as a reliever. He seems to throw more strikes in relief, and I wonder if that’s because he doesn’t have the pressure of planning how to go through a line-up twice? When you know you’re only facing a few hitters, you can just go air it out, and put your best stuff on display.

    Ultimately, if he’s comfortable there, that also helps alleviate some of the logjam in the rotation.

  6. @6 Appreciate the research, Sam. That looks to be further proof that Newk might’ve found a home.

  7. Any team reliant on Blevins, Swarzak, and Tomlin is not a championship team. Maybe one but not three. I will grant that, if Teheran keeps up his good performance, that we don’t need a TOR SP. But we must have at least two more proven relievers and especially a shut-down closer. We need to be one of those teams that others come in saying “you better get them in the first 7 innings”.

  8. Of minor interest: the Braves trail the Phillies by 30 points in real life winning percentage but in adjusted third order win % they lead by 85 points. The bad news is they still trail five teams in the West and Central. It is early days but the stats suggest the NL East still stinks.

  9. Omitted the link:

    https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/standings/

    First order is adjusted win-loss based on runs scored (basically Bill Jame’s Pythagorean, but slightly modified). Second order is adjusted win-loss based on projected runs scored (i.e., underlying stats rather than actual runs). Third order uses projected runs scored and further adjusts for quality of opponents.

  10. Newcomb was 12 and 9 last year with a 1.33 whip and a 3.90 era. Not exactly TOR numbers, but not bad for his first full year as a starter with some dominating starts thrown in. My guess is the Braves or someone else will give him at least 1 or 2 more shots as a starter. If it.doesn’t work out I think he has the stuff for a closer.

  11. Cannot find tonight’s game on MLB Extra Innings. Any suggestions why?

    Game now underway, no video i can find, scoreless after 1.

  12. Riley’s new nickname is Zeus. He’s a god.

    Meanwhile, Soroka is not as fast as Fried. Fried would’ve beat out that grounder to 3rd.

  13. Welp, Braves are gonna have beat the Phillies themselves. Doesn’t look like anybody else is gonna. Bright side is they probably pushed all their chips in already. Gotta think the Braves make the bigger deadline moves.

    I do like that Phillies are being rewarded for trying and paying up in the off-season. One way to get better is to spend for talent and they sure did that.

    Would like to see the Bravos get a playoff-caliber starter, 2 bullpen aces and a big bench bat. Hoping for too much?

  14. Damn. Soroka grooved that one. On a 2-strike pitch, too.

    Looks like we’re helping Carpenter break his slump. I think he has 4 hits in his last 5 ABs against us.

  15. The offense is offensive. Ozzie and Ronald need to cool it with the pedicures and spend more time in the batting cages. And Donaldson needs to hit the GD ball in the air.

  16. Way to go TFlow. Nice bash right when we needed it.

    And then Ozzie too!! Woohoo. What in the heck was Ozzie doing sliding on that. Man, he shoulda been on 3rd.

  17. Well, would ya look at that? It’s almost like this bullpen sucks or something.

    Luke Jackson can stay. Replace everyone else. Trade the farm I don’t care.

  18. And there it is…friggin bullpen. Winkler has not been dependable no matter what the numbers say; he still has no idea where he is throwing it.

  19. @30 @31 That is such bullshit. Are we watching the same game? Winkler gives up an infield hit off his back, the Braves nearly get an great DP, then Carpenter gets a dinky grounder against the shift. Sometimes you just can’t be perfect. Cards have had all the breaks today. Just happens. Winkler did not pitch badly.

    Winkler has been a lockdown reliever for two years now. Except for a period earlier this year when he issued too many walks. He is back now not walking anyone.

  20. @33 Winkler got lucky as hell if you look back just to his last SF game. Missing his spots by 2 feet and depending on the terrible SF offense.

    Let’s just keep looking at his future appearances and see if he keeps getting bailed out by the offense or something like tonight happens.

    Edit : maybe flowers game calling had something to do with it tonight; almost nonexistent slider use until after the HR.

  21. Winkler is dreadful and shouldn’t be near a high-leverage situation.

    That said, I will take a loss here and there if it means the shift does a fiery, horrible death.

  22. Lessee, Winkler’s appeared 18 times and he has given up more than one earned run ONCE. Tonight.

    Last year in 69 appearances, he gave up more than one earned run 4 times and twice that was 2 earned runs.

    His W/9 are up and H/9 down. There is absolutely no reason to be down on Winkler based upon one unlucky appearance.

    He has been and will continue to be one of the best relief options in the major leagues.

  23. @40.
    The leash has been way shorter this year for him to be able to give up more than one run.

    Look, I think he can be a good option, but he has been getting by on smoke and mirrors this year. Hopefully these kind of meltdowns are rare these year, but if it happens again in a soonish manner, I’ll remind you with a friendly “I told you so” ;)

    Really wish the Phillies lost once in a while and we would all be less stressed out.

  24. Agreed that those down on Winkler don’t know what they’re talking about, but with runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out I wish Snit would have brought in Jackson. I just think his slider gave us the best chance for a strikeout. I have had very few complaints about Snitker”s bullpen usage lately.

  25. @42 “rare”??? He’s only given up 2 ER all year except for tonight…… 2. Both on solo HRs; elsewise nothing. I’d say his leash is longer than anyone’s except for Jackson, right now.

    @43 Really tough situation since Winkler hadn’t done anything wrong before that except get hit in the back with a liner and allow a dribbler opposite the shift (which would have been an easy DP if someone had been there).

    On the other hand, it could’ve been Kimbrel sitting there waiting for the 9th. LOL

    I guess any time something bad happens, we can all see a different path. This one tonight, except for the offense hitting into 3 GIDPs, was just one of those nights.

  26. I’m still pretty high on Winkler. If that broken-bat liner doesn’t hit Winkler, that’s an out. Then you get the next out on DeJong. From there, it’s hard to tell. Ozuna or Carpenter may easily don’t reach with there being less baserunners on, and you’re out of the inning. Winkler was the victim of some bad luck with Goldy’s liner, Carpenter’s single, and Ozzie misjudging DeJong’s speed and not turning the DP faster. At minimum, 4 runs shouldn’t have scored, if any.

    I like Winkler. He’s a piece.

  27. Also, I referenced Ozzie’s lazy turn on the DP, but he also failed to pick up Wash on the double in the 7th that Bader misplayed, and he should have been on third. With 1 out, Camargo’s groundout would have scored Ozzie. So that potentially cost us a run as well.

  28. I’m not a big prayer guy, but the Auburn Family is hurting tonight. Play by play man and voice of Auburn, Rod Bramlett and his wife were both killed in a car wreck tonight. He of course took over for Jim Fyffe when he died almost 20 years ago.

  29. I think Winkler would benefit from the Braves adding two quality relievers. I’m not as bullish on him as some, but in lower leverage situations he’d probably be alright enough if he turns in a year close to last season.

  30. If Ozzie had let Wash look for the ball as he was approaching second instead of spending an age, stationary, doing just that himself he would have had an easy three and a likely four. The ball couldn’t have been any more misplayed in the outfield than it was. He needs just seconds to translate that into a run ,if he has maintained some momentum. He was all too focused on the original double.

    Great game though. The catcher’s interference call got to Soroka a bit, never quite the same but what a gem we have there.

  31. You could, if you so wished, send Acuna down for a month to learn how to play center field and to rediscover where those fastballs went at the plate. Pache would not let us down. And a positive dose of humility never hurt anyone -.in his head he must be so pressured right now by Riley.

    Also on the psych front FoxSportsVienna noted Sigmund Freud watched last night’s game and was heard to exclaim – ‘Winkler would have been fine had he not gifted his mother a ticket right by the dugout.’

  32. Ozzie Albies
    can do many things but within all of these
    it’s the hair he prioritizes
    locks of alternate hues, lengths in ready-to-snap-on sizes.

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