Two touchdowns beat two safeties: DC 14 – ATL 4

The great goalie Jacques Plante once said: “How would you like a job where when you made a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?”  None of us, I suspect, would like to be known for their worst professional blunder. There have been many Bill Buckner retrospectives this week, and I don’t need to do another one.  I would, however, commend to your attention (actually to Chip’s attention) Vin Scully’s call of that moment.  Scully describes the play, describes Ray Knight crossing the plate to send the World Series to game 7, and then says nothing for 1 minute and 47 seconds, including silence through two replays of the error.   That’s what televised announcing ought to be.

And it’s a good thing a team isn’t known for its worst professional blunder, because that was tonight.  Kevin Gausman is a two-pitch pitcher – neither appeared tonight, and the Braves were down 8-0 with nobody out in the 2nd before Tourniquet Toussaint came in to stanch the bleeding.  Touki gave up one more and gave way to Winkler, who just gave way: 5 more runs in 2/3 of an inning.  If your math skills are a little weak, that’s slightly better than Gausman; so Winkler can argue he didn’t have the worst night, but really, does anyone care?

Meanwhile, our old friend Anibal Sanchez showed how much he missed Atlanta: 6 innings and one hit.  He was replaced in the 7th by somebody (I have to admit I wasn’t paying too much attention at this point) who gave up Riley’s first grand slam of his young career. 

So the Nats came to town for 2 and there was exactly no delenda-ing going on.  Another day off tomorrow, at which point my favorite AL team comes to town.  For some reason, I adopted the Tigers in 1968 as my AL team (I think it was that I really liked Dick McAuliffe’s batting stance.)  No team has really captured my fancy since then, so I’ve stuck with them in a highly desultory way.  Let’s beat them.

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Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

51 thoughts on “Two touchdowns beat two safeties: DC 14 – ATL 4”

  1. Brilliant writing JonathanF. So Denny McClain is not the only thing the Tigers and Braves have in common.

  2. Denny McLain’s year in Atlanta was the only time I was thrilled to get a player out of whom I expected nothing, which is what he delivered. It’s how I imagine Milwaukee felt about getting Hank Aaron back in 1975. Most of the time, I just get annoyed with sentimental returns, like Glavine. But McLain was a sentimental return just for me! Of course Denny’s subsequent shenanigans are one more arrow for the quiver of “ballplayers are ballplayers, not heroes.” One thing you can say about Denny, though, he’s still larger than life — literally.

  3. Have any outlets or blogs done any kind of analysis on what the heck is wrong with Gausman? Even the most negative of the Nancy’s can admit that this is not what anyone expected.

  4. He’s historically a slightly above average (maybe) MLB SP.

    He’s 12 games under .500 and has a career 4.21 ERA albeit for a bad/terrible team.

    Thinking that he is *good* is Braves Inflation. Players are who they are *most* of the time.

  5. How sweet the name of Riley sounds
    in a believers ear
    it soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds
    and e’en provokes a cheer.

    Jonathan F…as this stream of excellence continues from you i hazard two guesses. You have surprised yourself, you are enjoying yourself. Thank you.

    Acuna. As specifically ordered here 10 days ago a month in Gwinnett please c/w mentor. Pache up here pronto. Two birds with one stone, have some guts, take responsibility.

    Riley. We are so fickle it seems. Seeing the GS video for the first time this morning has already ensured a permanent fond remembrance of this game, to heck with the score.

  6. I think Gausman’s basically AJ Burnett or Chris Archer — better stuff than performance. But we basically just need him to be a #3 starter, behind Soroka and Folty and Fried. And last night notwithstanding, he can do that just fine.

  7. What was that?
    a very ugly at bat
    any good, wazzhe?
    very, our Ozzie.

    While it is crystal clear to me how the Acuna situation should be handled, today, I am at a loss for words (yes!) what to do with his great friend. Except i’m not.

    On the bench every day for 2 weeks. Pinch Hit RH, pinch run. Camargo to play every game at second. Two birds again. Then some persons need to take a definitive position on to switch or not to switch.

  8. @2,6: Thanks.

    blazon, I do admit some pride at the somewhat obvious sobriquet of Tourniquet for a long reliever named Touki, and surprise that no one has used it before.

  9. @11…explain please…have i got my pronouns jumbled?

    I want Camargo to play second base for 2 weeks, every day, so Ozzie can be reevaluated as to his best skills,

    Camargo is no center fielder and would not be used there, Pache would.

  10. Gausman had a couple of bad outings in May and a mostly rough April. Don’t want to jump to conclusions even though last night was really bad. Maybe he was tipping his pitches last night. Never rule out the simplest explanation in favor of the less likely (injury).

    But I agree with Chief: We’ve had a good enough sample of Gausman to see that he is basically what he is: fodder for the back end of the rotation.

  11. I would just like to see “fodder for the back end of the rotation” defined. There were only 57 pitchers that qualified for the ERA title last year, so right off the bat, the back end of rotations don’t even pitch enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Hard to be really valuable when you don’t do that. So making 30 starts, which Gausman has done regularly, already puts you closer to the front of the rotation than the back of it.

    So that’s a metric just in terms of how many times you toe the rubber as an influencer of value. But of those 57 that qualified, 12 of them had less than 2 fWAR. So even if you were lucky to toe the rubber enough to qualify, there was still about a 20% chance you were considered a below-average player. Gausman, on the other hand, had a 2.3 fWAR, which put him 36th amongst qualified starters. And of that 2.3 fWAR, 1 of it was in only the 10 starts he made for Atlanta.

    I think a lot of fans don’t realize that back-end starters are pitchers that are not very durable and are barely above-replacement level. An example is Milwaukee, who last year went to the NLCS but used 7 different pitchers to make 10+ starts, 4 of which had ERAs over 4, and only one of which with an ERA under 3. Not exactly Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, and you really don’t need that nowadays.

    So when you have a guy like Gausman — who I would actually argue has been more than good enough in his tenure — and Teheran who almost never misses a start, those guys aren’t back-end starters unless you assign a lot of value to them. But I don’t think “back-end starter” is a term of endearment.

    Plus, Gausman has a fuuuuunky ERA/FIP gap. It’s a 2-run gap as of today. Last year he beat his FIP. I don’t really know what to think, but it’s not exactly a #hottake to say that he’s somewhere in the middle of his 5.56 ERA this year and his 2.86 ERA for Atlanta last year. And that’s a #3 starter on a good team.

    This ended up being way longer than I thought, and I’m sorry.

  12. But since I’m stuck in the thought, let me also provide a counter-rebuttal to myself: just don’t use ERA title qualification as a guide. Make the cut-off, say, 100 IP as a starter. That leads to a much higher number to evaluate pitchers within (128 pitchers). So accordingly, Gausman falls to 55th in fWAR.

    But my counter-rebuttal to that is that you still have to fill the innings missed by those starters that aren’t pitching enough innings, and that rotation spot’s collective performance is weighed down by, most likely, replacement level pitchers. So as an example, you’d say that Stephen Strasburg is better than Guasman because Strasburg also accumulated 2.3 fWAR but he did it in 22 GS. Well, sure, but then you had to go fill those other 9 starts that Strasburg could not make with, most likely, a replacement level pitcher. That’s 0 WAR. So what would you rather have: Kevin Gausman, who made 31 starts with a 2.3 fWAR, or Stephen Strasburg, who made 22 starts with a 2.3 fWAR and then you had to go get someone from AAA to fill those 9 starts? What if those starts were below replacement level? Then you have negative WAR, and all of a sudden Strasburg is less valuable than Gausman. I think I’d rather just have Gausman and not have to fiddle with it.

  13. Somewhat to your point, the Braves are now 6-5 in starts made by Gausman. This with some of the worst run support on the team while he’s in the game (2.6).

    If you have 6-5 record with your #3 or #4 starter who’s is underperforming, things are going to be okay.

  14. Over the course of a season, I have high confidence that both Gausman and Teheran will keep us in a lot of games, eat up a lot of innings, and we’ll have a pretty good record in the games they start. I agree this makes both of them quite valuable.

    In any one particular game, I have much less confidence in either of them, and would not feel good about either of them starting Game 6 or Game 7 of a playoff series. Thus they are much less valuable in the postseason.

  15. Fair points, Rob. I agree the ability to eat up innings is sometimes overlooked when evaluating a starting pitcher.

    However, I think comparing Gausman & Teheran to the MLB starting pitcher pool as a whole misses a bit. At least 10 teams flat out aren’t trying, and another 10 will miss the playoffs, in part because their rotations aren’t good enough. So when comparing the Braves staff and where they stand, we should be comparing to likely playoff team rotations. That was the expectation and stated goal, right – This Braves team is supposed to repeat as division winners and compete for a championship.

    So while I agree that Gausman and Teheran are an par or even better than the “average” 4th & 5th starter in all of MLB, the question I ask is “for how many playoff-bound teams would either pitcher crack the starting 5?”

    By my accounting, Julio and Kevin could replace the 5th starter for the Red Sox, Twins and Brewers. But neither is better than any playoff team’s 4th starter.

    The rotation quality and depth just isn’t there yet.

  16. If it was up to blazon, the Braves would have sent Acuña back to Triple A because of a slump.

  17. I didn’t see last night’s abomination, but apparently Gausman got BABIP’ed to death. Expect regression to the mean. He’ll be fine.

  18. 22 – There were a couple of cheap hits, but most everything hit off Gausman last night was scorched. You really did have to wonder if he was tipping his pitches somehow.

  19. Kevin Gausman, in his career, has been a 2nd half guy. His first half ERA 4.86 over 449.2 IP. His second half ERA is 3.53 over 428.2 IP. You can see the rest here:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=gausmke01&year=Career&t=p

    This is a pretty well known fact about him. He had a 4.33 ERA in the first half last year, and then he had a 3.28 ERA down the stretch, and obviously we all know that his numbers with the Braves were even better (2.87 ERA in 59.2 IP).

    The frustration with Gausman is that he has always taken some bad lumps sporadically throughout the first half of most seasons, and then he turns a corner at about the same time every year and cruises to a decent finish.

    Rob maybe right that my calling him “backend fodder” isn’t endearing. We Braves fans are a spoiled bunch because we know what a playoff rotation looks like, and we know where Gausman would have slotted in the rotation when the Braves were still a major playoff team. I see 150+ IP with a high 3 ERA and think of THAT as fourth starter material.

  20. Kevin Gausman career April and May ERAs:

    April: 5.09
    May: 5.33

    This isn’t new territory for him. If he follows his career norms, he will have a 4-something ERA in June and July, and then a 3 ERA the rest of the way.

  21. @24 – You’re absolutely correct. The 4th starters for last year’s pennant winners:

    Red Sox – Eduardo Rodriguez 129 IP & 3.82 ERA

    Dodgers – Rich Hill 132 IP & 3.66 ERA

  22. @6 If they sent Acuna back to AAA due to a slump, which is most likely a byproduct of the guy never getting a day off, it’d be the worst of looks for the franchise. He does everything right, and wants to be with the franchise for the long haul. Few things would make me quit being a Braves fan, but if they did as you suggest, I’d be done. He’s hitting .270 with 11 hrs, and a .358 OBP%. How much more should be asked of him?

    Also, why start Pache’s service clock when they don’t have room for Ender as it is? I don’t understand that at all…

  23. Re: Acuna: This may sound totally silly, but here goes. I wonder if all the attention Austin Riley is getting is negatively effecting RAJ in some way. The shine hasn’t even had time to wear off of Acuna, and here’s this guy Austin Riley who wasn’t even supposed to arrive until next year…

    Honeymoons always end too soon, huh?

  24. I think the standard for individual pitcher performances for some clusters of Braves fans is too high, and I can’t help but wonder if people are still in Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Avery/Neagle/Millwood mindsets where a guy that would be a staff ace on another club is a 4th starter in Atlanta. And anything less than the Avery/Neagle/Millwood level is someone who is always in jeopardy of losing their spot in the rotation.

    I see 150+ IP with a high 3 ERA and think of THAT as fourth starter material.

    You’re pretty much describing Alex Wood. He pitched 151.2 innings, 3.66 ERA, 2.3 fWAR. Depending on peripherals, fWAR and bWAR has that type of pitcher anywhere between 2 and 3 WAR. Of SP who pitched at least 150 IP, he finished 45th in fWAR. So this definition of a back-end starter puts him the top 45 pitchers with at least 150 IP. I wouldn’t have a problem with Wood starting game 4 of a playoff series.

    Without an objective standard, it’s going to be really hard to describe who is a 4th/5th starter. Yes, competitive balance is changing that dynamic a little, but in my world, if you are a) pitching 150 IP and b) finishing in the top 60 in fWAR, then you’re a really good pitcher. And that person, if they can pitch 150+ IP, is really valuable in the regular season and maybe even start a postseason game, especially if he matches up well.

  25. I think Acuna is just in a rough patch. He’s missing hittable pitches, taking hittable pitches, trying too hard, etc. Same thing that happens to literally every single hitter in this sport. The duration of these rough patches is what separates the bad/good/great. (Acuna might also be playing through some back pain).

    Ozzie I might be a bit more worried about. But those same worries were there last year.

  26. @25 exactly right. Ender is the same way. I always shake my head every time someone says “I hope he can translate that second half to the beginning of next year”. It would be so much better to use the data you’re given to make decisions than hope for something that’s never happened before.

    What concerned me more was that Gausman was at 90-94 on his four-seamer and it was getting mashed in the 1st. He nearly abandoned it in the 2nd, throwing a bunch of mid-80s splitters. Those got mashed too.

    Whether he was tipping his pitches or just wasn’t getting any movement, something was not right. And they didn’t do any good at all about mixing pitches. Maybe it was a bad biorhythm or a slight injury, last night was obviously not the norm.

    With Winkler, too, maybe that liner off the back did more damage than we thought. His only bad performances this year have been after the Goldy liner off the back.

    Everybody thought that Dansby was gonna be a lousy hitter forever not knowing apparently that he was dealing with a weak wrist all year.

  27. @21/28

    I’m not suggesting Acuna to Gwinnett as an indication that’s where his value lies. Quite on the contrary he is an obvious huge talent who now finds himself out of sorts and struggling accordingly. His bat has slowed, he looks unhappy, he is undoubtedly suffering from the pressure he feels Riley puts on him as has already been said.

    Antidote – some time away, reset the clocks.Relax.

  28. I have few requests, but if this could be a “No Acuna-to-AAA” Braves blog, I would really appreciate that. I think if that talk keeps up, a lot of Braves Journal readers are going to be doing this number:

  29. Where would we put Minor? Are we looking to add Touki, Newcomb or Wright to the rotation and go with a 7 man starting staff? On the surface Minor would be a pretty good haul, but I don’t see the need unless we make other moves.

  30. Mike Minor has been amazing this year. Pitching over 6 innings per start, striking out a hitter an inning, 2.55 ERA, 3.6 bWAR.

    Zack Greinke and his 3.2 bWAR and 2.78 ERA would certainly qualify as such, but there aren’t many proven, elite SPs that are going to be available. MadBum is on the downslope of his career, though he has a great postseason record. Minor is unproven but pitching like an ace. So it’s either you get someone proven in the postseason but is not having a good year (MadBum), someone unproven in the postseason but is having a stellar year (Mike Minor), or somewhat kinda sorta proven in the postseason who’s having a stellar year (Greinke).

  31. I would ride with Minor, Folty, Soroka, Fried, and Gausman into the playoffs. Minor’s not your big name but he has control and he’s pitching like an ace.

  32. @35. Well, it’s exactly one person that keeps bringing it up…Cloaking absurd ideas in bewildering prose doesn’t make them any less absurd.

  33. COPPY…
    ‘The Man who Shot Liberty’s Balance.’

    2.4 million people liked this. Exactly.

  34. Weird. Was reading just this morning about the Danaides, the 50 daughters of Danaus, all but one of whom murdered their husbands on their wedding night – lack of performance it was said. Gwinnett would have been a kinder alternative.

  35. Kyle Wright only got through 2 2/3 of his outing at AAA before rain shortened it. It’ll take him a while to get stretched out to be a starter. Why bother for this year?

    Jeremy Walker was converted from a SP to a multi-inning RP this year, and he’s got a 2.76 ERA in AA in 45 IP. 39 K’s, 2 (!!) walks. 45 hits, though.

    6’6″ Texas giant Kyle Muller looks like he’ll be a lock to be a lefty reliever in the second half, even as he’s dominating as a starter (1.89 ERA, 52 IP, 57 K, 31 H, but 32 BB’s). If he can fix his walks and be even more dominant out of the pen, watch out.

    Ian Anderson is also having problems with walks, but he’s been great (61 K’s in 48 IP, 38 H).

    I know it seems crazy, but stick them all in the pen at AAA and let them eat. Let them all work multi-inning with Patrick Weigel, Wilson, Parsons, Carle, Ynoa, Sobotka, et al, and just let natural selection occur.

    Opening Day bullpen was Vizzy, Venters, Biddle, Sobotka, Carle, Parsons, and Jackson. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if only Jackson and maybe one other person is in the bullpen come August 1st. Whether it be through trade or re-shuffling of the org’s talent, you could have 7 new and better relievers from Opening Day.

  36. Exciting few days of baseball. Braves/Tigers for the weekend, draft starts on Monday and the college baseball tourney has just started. The Vols are in for the first time since 2005, the Dawgs have a pitcher from the local high school where my wife teaches (Cole Wilcox) and Vandy once again looks like the cream of the crop. Good times.

  37. I thought you were talking about the Dansby Swanson fan club when you mentioned the Danaides. Probably not the best group for your fan club.

  38. I’m not sure what any team had to lose by offering him a minor league deal. Perhaps Atlanta is still too much of a “play the game the right way’ organization to have done it. Plus, we didn’t exactly have a need for a backup OF and still don’t. It’s not like we’ve needed what we thought Dietrich would provide and don’t have it.

    Otherwise, I love that guy.

  39. Question for a diverse crowd: do you think I’ll regret having my name and my picture on my Twitter account? You guys know me well enough: I talk politics on there, sometimes I say mean things, though I’ve really cut back recently on both politics and just flat out being mean. If potential clients simply Google my name only, my Twitter account shows up second (weird). Without careful searching, they’ll see, for the most part, that I’m a huge Braves and Gator fans, and probably not much else. They’d have to really dig.

    I also have mild plans of running for our city council within the next few years, so that ought to be taken into consideration as well.

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