Braves 2, Mets 1

The man comes around – twice. On a Players’ Weekend where the Braves uniforms evoked the memory of Johnny Cash, Josh Donaldson led off the top of the 2nd with a home run, and repeated the feat in the 7th, leading the Braves to the series sweep. Here are the rest of Sunday afternoon’s goings down.

Dallas Keuchel was just as integral as Donaldson, throwing 7 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks, and striking out 7. The Ring of Fire bullpen looks to be settling down again, although the flames went higher in the 9th when Mark Melancon allowed the run on a Pete Alonso double, a J.D. Davis 1 out single, and a Todd Frazier fielder’s choice that Donaldson and Ozzie Albies could not quite turn into 2. After a Wilson Ramos single, it looked like the Braves might need to go to Jackson or some other bullpen option, but a Joe Panik ground out allowed Melancon to record his 6th save instead.

Apart from Donaldson, Stephen Matz allowed only 1 other hit in his 6 innings; Adam Duvall‘s double accounted for 1/3 of the Braves total hits. Paul Sewald was the victim of Donaldson’s 2nd homer.

You can find all the details from here.

The Braves NL East lead increases to 6.5 pending the results of the Nationals game. With the 4th place Mets standing at 67 – 63, and the Nationals, Phillies, and Mets holding down 3 of the top 5 spots in the wild card race, it’s hard to say that the Braves aren’t leading the toughest division in baseball.

At Colorado Monday at 3:10 Eastern for a one-off makeup game; Julio Teheran and Tim Melville 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.

130 thoughts on “Braves 2, Mets 1”

  1. Wonderful recap, Rusty! Thank you.

    Matz has our number, so you take the win any way you can get it. Was great to see Josh crush a ball after scuffling a bit over the last couple of days. Offense is still a little cold, especially, weirdly, the top 4. Hopefully they come out of it in time for October baseball.

  2. Great recap. I noted that earlier this morning. After a slow start even looking like the weakest division for a while, the NL East is most definitely the strongest division. The gNats are playing as well as they ever did with Bryce. If they weren’t so good, the Braves would have out the division away already.

    We shouldn’t be too worried. We are 6 games ahead of last year at game 132. We were ahead by 3.5 games last year at game 132. We didn’t hit 6.5 games ahead until the middle of September last year. Life is good and getting better.

  3. Good stuff today! Absolutely nuts that the Nats, who are 8-2 in last 10 haven’t gained a single game on the Braves!

  4. Anyone got something to say and are interested in writing more than a recap this week, shoot me or Rob an email!

  5. Acuna is on a 162-game pace for 44 HRs and 37 SBs. With that said, he’s stolen 17 bases in the last 46 games. If he can keep that pace for the next month and change, then he’ll just barely pass 40 stolen bases. So 40/40 is definitely within reach.

  6. Culberson has been pretty ineffective this month. .190/.227/.238 while getting close-to-regular playing time. I mentioned a few weeks ago that he is becoming more of what his perception is as a starter and pinch hitter, and that’s become even more pronounced since: .572 OPS as a starter, .954 OPS as a pinch hitter.

    It’s not crazy based on his age and his immense value as a multi-positional effective pinch hitter that he could have a historically noteworthy career. He has 32 pinch-hits at the age of 30. 15 of those are this year. If he can stick on a team’s bench as a utility guy and rack up 15-17 pinch hits a year, he won’t catch Lenny Webster’s 212 pinch hits, but he could easily end up in the top 20 all-time (Dave Clark has 96). Getting into the 140’s for pinch hits is top 5 all-time.

    Relative to how bad his career was looking before he came to Atlanta (.595 OPS in 443 career PAs), it’d be pretty neat for him to carve out this little niche in his 30’s. And in the age of 4-man benches, having an infielder/outfielder who can play both short and center and can be a reliable bat off the bench will keep him in demand.

  7. Duvall has also been pretty ineffective, and he’s looking like a non-tender candidate again. He’s sitting at 0.1 fWAR since his call-up, -0.5 fWAR in August. Hitting .140/.222/.263 in 63 PAs in August.

  8. So, at 80-52, if the Braves just play .500 ball, they’ll finish 95-67. Which means the Gnats have to go 22-10 to tie us.

    Of course, the way they’ve played the last two weeks, I wouldn’t put it past them.

  9. The good news in all of this is the Braves get to play the winner of the NL Central. We won the season series against both the Cubs and Cards. Assuming the gNats win the WC then they get to play the Dodgers. Kind of a win-win for us. They probably have the two best sets of top three starters, so the GNats may have a better chance of beating the Dodgers than we do.

  10. Well, I knew that team was those old damn Mets
    Wearing all white, as white as white gets
    And I knew that Citi Field fans had for two games wept
    They were boys and girls and both and young and old
    And I looked at them and my blood ran cold
    And I said: “My name’s JD! How do you be?
    Now you gonna be swept!”

  11. I assume Duvall will be optioned today so Swanson can be activated, then Duvall comes back on Sunday when rosters expand. Riley is going to Gwinnett so they could just wait until Sunday to bring him back as well.

    The downside of AA being so great at getting these fill in is going to be some hard feelings about who makes the playoff rosters (as Rob alluded to in the previous thread).

    Hitter locks for the roster assuming health (10) – Freeman, Albies, Swanson, Donaldson, Markakis, Inciarte, Acuna, McCann, Culberson (though he does need to get a hit by the end of the year), and Flowers (though I’d argue Cervelli could be here over TFlow)

    Probable hitters (2) – Joyce and Hamilton

    Fighting for 0 to 2 spots – Camargo, Cervelli, Duvall, Riley, Ortega, Hech (of these I’d lean Hech and Cervelli, without Hech or Camargo, Culby is the only middle IF replacement)

    Pitcher Locks (10) – Soroka, Fried, Keuchel, One of Folty/Julio, Melancon, Greene, Martin, Swarzak, Jackson, Newk

    Probable pitchers (2) – Blevins and the other of Folty/Julio though if you do that can only take one of Hech or Cervelli

    Doubtful – Wright, Tomlin, Wilson, Touki, Dayton, O’Day

    Were it me, I’d either take Hech and Cervelli, move Julio or Folty to pen and leave off Blevins, or take Blevins and take Cervelli over Flowers, but that leaves a couple of injury-prone catchers.

  12. So under my preferred roster, we leave off Camargo who is raking in AAA but has been bad this year and was bad in playoffs last year, Riley who carried the team into first place in May and June, Duvall who has done everything asked of him but can’t seem to find a groove in the majors, Ortega who hit what I think was the biggest HR of the year (can you imagine the aftermath of Acunagate if we had lost to the Dodgers there?), Blevins our second lefty in the pen who has come up big at times, and Tomlin who has been there all year and has stopped the bleeding numerous times and provided many valuable innings.

    Remarkable depth and a good problem to have, but tough to leave some of those guys out.

  13. I don’t see how you can leave Riley out unless it’s for health reasons. We need homeruns. Manufacturing runs isn’t gonna happen.

  14. Riley won’t duplicate his June slash line in the playoffs, which are all about manufacturing runs. The pitching’s just too good. Look at how our offense performed against the Mets this weekend. There’s plenty more of that in store.

  15. Riley just has to be a game time decision. Like with Duvall, there have been two Rileys:

    First 145 PAs: .291/.345/.619, 12 HRs
    Last 110 PAs: .176/.227/.353, 5 HRs

    Are you really going to take the second Riley on a playoff roster? But if he can hit anywhere close to his beginning, or even produce his season line — .242/.294/.504 — then I can see the value of him as a home run threat in the bottom of the order.

  16. I’ll be surprised if they don’t take Cervelli. They always seem to insist that they need three catchers. Otherwise agree with the 10 non-pitcher locks assuming those guys are healthy.

    Teheran’s not getting dropped, even in a short series. If he’s not in the rotation he slides into a Tomlin role. Agree with the other locks (again, assuming health), and Blevins would be the odds-on favorite for the 12th spot. Only way he gets left off is if Minter dramatically outpitches him in September.

    So that leaves two spots. Strongly suspect Hamilton fills one of them, and then the hottest bat between Camargo, Joyce, Riley & Duvall fills the other. Ties go to Camargo due to positional versatility, although it’d be tough to leave Joyce off given he’s been on the roster all season. Hech’s not making it unless Dansby is injured. Ortega’s a long shot. Some of that may sort itself out though if guys don’t make it back from injury. It’d be lovely to have everyone healthy but that’s probably not in the cards.

  17. fWAR paces based on 162:

    Acuna: 6.2
    Donaldson: 4.8
    Freeman: 4.6
    Ozzie: 3.8
    Catching duo: 3.4 (probably a little less with McCann out)
    Dansby: 2.2 (should end up a little higher since he’s lost so much time)
    Kakes: 0.2 (mayyybe a little higher but fWAR hates him)

    bWAR paces based on 162:
    Soroka: 6.1
    Teheran: 3.4
    Fried: 2.8
    Keuchel: 1.8. What a pickup. If he made 32 starts, it’d be 4.2.
    Swarzak: 1.4. What a pickup.
    Jackson: 1.3. What a resurgence.

    I speculate Folty would have about a 3.2-3.5 bWAR season if he could have done all year what he’s done in his 4 August starts.

  18. Soroka will probably get a turn in the rotation 6 times between now and the end of the year. Let’s say he averages 6 innings per start. That puts him at 177 IP at the end of the regular season. Then 6-7, best case, in the division series. 12-14, best case, in a NLCS. I’m not even going to say World Series innings. That gets you pretty close to 200 IP. Does that concern you?

  19. My position is that you don’t “manufacture” runs in the playoffs. You are facing top pitching, and getting hits at all is a feat. You want a couple of those hits to go over the fence.

    Look at our playoff losses (they are legion). Almost all were due to the opposition hitting dingers.

  20. @32, Culberson gives you nothing though. At least Riley might run into one. We’re going to need some luck either way.

  21. @ #37

    I could respectfully argue that, if that were true, the Dodgers would have won the last two World Series. They lived–and died–by the long ball.

  22. DOB had an article a while back about Atlanta fans’ hesitance to embrace Donaldson. I think that’s a thing of the past. I can’t get enough of that guy’s swagger and balls-to-the-wall approach. I’m really looking forward to his return to Toronto, and I hope he gets a huge ovation. Geez, I’m getting slightly emotional just thinking about it.

  23. @35 No, not really. I can find pitchers who’ve made bigger jumps in workload with no signs of ill effects as easily as I can find them who immediately went down for the year the following season.

    You either have a young Justin Verlander or you don’t.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/verlaju01.shtml <– Be sure to click Show Minor stats.

    We're at the point now where Mike Soroka is pitching like an ace. Play the hot hand all through the playoffs and let next year worry about next year. We could sit him the rest of the year and he could still be terrible next year — that's just how it goes in modern baseball.

  24. AA has said this as well. He’s had experience “babying” pitchers and they’ve gotten hurt just the same so he doesn’t appear to be a believer that less usage equals fewer injuries.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that all the young pitchers will maintain effectiveness as they reach new career highs in innings.

    On playoff roster construction, you could make an arguement that Fried is a better bullpen candidate (assuming you aren’t using 5 starters) as he gives you another lefty and has pitched out of the pen before. Of course then you have no lefty starters and the Dodgers are actually around average against lefties. Cardinals stink at hitting both righties and lefties.

  25. @45 It feels really good to see articles like that about the Braves again. I remember sites like ESPN running pieces like that all during the late-90’s–that was a fun time.

  26. @37 I agree with your philosophy, but right now I don’t see Riley as being capable of consistently producing those dingers against top level playoff pitching. And his power doesn’t play if he can’t connect bat to ball. Assuming good health, the best OF is probably Acuna, Ender and Joyce/Kakes. Hamilton would also be useful for his speed and defense.

  27. If Riley isn’t going to hit better than he was right before he got hurt, there’s no point in bringing him. If he is, that’s a different matter.

  28. Riley had 2 hits in his last 7 games before he got injured. He had one 2-hit game in his last 24 games. He had one home run in his previous 53 ABs. He had no stretch of games in all of July and early August before he was injured that you could say he looked like a major leaguer.

  29. Like the Facebook Watch broadcasts before them, these YouTube broadcasts suck IMO. At least YouTube isn’t quite as annoying to access and is easier to get on the TV than Facebook Watch (IMO anyway), but these social-media exclusive broadcasts continue to be fairly annoying.

    It might help if they hired competent announcers for them and didn’t spend quite so much time talking about stupid BS.

  30. @58, 59: One thing to keep in mind is that these guys have to talk a *lot* more given the absence of commercials. I don’t care what crap they talk about between innings; it’s still a lot better than the Statcast commercial 250 times.

  31. Our top 3 are are frigid at the plate. They either need a break or to get back in the betting cage and work it out.

  32. They should absolutely overturn this call to safe.

    UPDATE: …and of course they uphold it. That’s an absolute joke!

  33. It was very close, but he looked safe. If he had gotten a better jump he would have been clearly safe.

  34. I just don’t know anymore. Last year, I wouldn’t have been surprised at that being upheld, but they’ve been overturning with less than 100 percent visual evidence this year. Based on what they’ve been doing, I can’t believe they didn’t overturn that.

  35. Jeez, I don’t want to hear more criticism of Chip and the braves broadcast team after hearing this travesty of a broadcast on YouTube.

    We don’t know how worse off we could be.

  36. I will be the contrarian who actually likes Matt Diaz. And having it on YouTube makes it a lot easier to watch at work.

  37. I’m not as troubled by the announcers as the rest of you, which I guess just proves I’m a Chip Specialist. (I also have very different standards for games with a putative national audience versus a home team audience, in which people should be expected to know more about the players.)

  38. The crux of the issue is that they’re trying to be way too cute on these broadcasts. Just do a normal broadcast of the game, you don’t have to throw in a whole bunch of social media crap just because you’re on a streaming platform.

    Also, MLB Network (who produces these broadcasts) employs some announcers who aren’t terrible. How about using them?

  39. The broadcast hasn’t seemed so bad to me. Certainly better than ESPN, where you frequently can’t even tell a game is being played.

  40. I hate the ESPN broadcasts with a passion. They are so concerned with their in the booth antics that they miss game action, and then don’t care about it.

  41. Freddie come onnnnnn

    What a terrible AB by Freddie there. Guy walks two people (including OZZIE) in front of him, and he swings at a ball nowhere close, then weakly grounds out.

  42. Friggin Freddie swinging at balls three and four after the guy walks the previous two batters. Terrible.
    I could accept that if there was no good batter after him, but there is no excuse there.

    It seems that this game is shaping up to be a loss after some Coors field BS.

  43. FYI, the record for hits in a 9 inning game without scoring is 14. The Coors Field record is 13. Our current pace: 9.

  44. We haven’t hit much all year with 2 outs. Wouldn’t it have been better for Julio to safety squeeze than strikeout?

  45. Has pretty much every pitch against us today been a slider? Seems like it. We’re not looking like we’ve ever seen one.

  46. I think unless Riley is on fire going into the playoffs that the Braves would be better off going with someone else.

    Here is my way too early playoff roster:

    LF Acuña
    2b Albies
    1b Freeman
    3b Donaldson
    RF Markakis
    SS Swanson
    C McCann/Cervelli
    CF Inciarte

    Bench

    McCann/Cervelli
    Culberson
    Joyce
    Hech
    Hamilton

    I project Markakis and Inciarte back in the lineup for postseason. I think the Braves pick Culberson for the bench because of his ability to play everywhere. With Flowers having struggled, I think Cervelli has chance to get the nod. Hechavarría makes the roster as the Braves prefer having 2 backup IFs. Hamilton makes it with his pinch running ability.

    Starting pitchers
    Soroka
    Keuchel
    Teheran
    Fried

    The order of which after Soroka depends on matchups. With a strong September, Folty could become one of the 4 starters instead of Teheran or Fried.

    Right handed relievers
    Melancon
    Greene
    Jackson
    Martin
    Swarzak
    Folty

    Left handed relievers
    Newcomb
    Blevins

  47. 3-0 greenlight there is fine by me. Middle-middle fastball and he just missed it. Our offense in a nutshell lately.

  48. Cervelli missed a HR by a couple of feet, so did Dansby, Dansby hit another one 413 feet for an out, Freeman doesn’t run at full steam and is thrown out at home, he also doesn’t take the bases loaded walk…. 1-12 with RISP.

    What else can go wrong today?

    Edit: Now Acuna gets lazy

    If the offense wasn’t going to show up, they might have well have forfeited the game and skipped the flight.

  49. @104 omg yay!!!! Looks like it turned out well!

    Woof. Well, if we lose this one, it’s all on the offense.

  50. Maybe all this talk about playoff lineups is begging for the baseball gods to slap us around some.

  51. Rockies… terrible pitching staff, 768 runs allowed in 2019 is by far the most of any team in the NL, and they’re seriously going to be shutout by them at Coors. Incredible.

  52. The general is a little combustible at the moment. Making it tough on himself almost every time out

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