The rebuild was over! Coming off a successful 2018 season in which the Braves reached the playoffs a bit unexpectedly, there was a bright light at the end of the tunnel. For the 2019 Atlanta Braves, it was expected to be a huge battle with a four-horse race in the NL East, but it turned out similarly to 2018 with the Braves winning the division; as a bonus they did it fairly easily with the Nationals 4 games behind them and the rest no less than 11 back. (Should we even mention the Marlins at 40 games back?)
2018 Atlanta Braves Offseason Notable Subtractions
Kurt Suzuki– After 2 strong years in Atlanta, Suzuki earned a 2-year, $10M deal from the Nationals and headed for the capital.
Anibal Sanchez– After revitalizing his career with a 2.83 ERA in 136.2 innings, Sanchez followed Suzuki to DC on a 2-year, $19M deal.
Brad Brach– Brach came to the Braves in exchange for International Bonus Slot money on July 30th and didn’t disappoint, allowing 4 ER in 23.2 IP. This appeared to be a big loss in a question mark filled bullpen, but his disastrous 2019 season showed us AA saw something we didn’t.
Peter Moylan– While not super effective in 2018 allowing 14 ER in 28.1 IP, it was still sad to see him go.
2018 Atlanta Braves Offseason Notable Additions
Josh Donaldson– The crown jewel for the Braves, Donaldson agreed to a 1-year, $23M prove it deal, and prove it he did! JD was worth every penny of that deal and was a phenomenal pickup for a Braves team that needed someone other than Markakis in the cleanup role.
Brian McCann– McCann signed very affordably on a 1-year, $2M deal to retire as a Brave and have one last go at a ring. While it didn’t end the way he wanted, it was a strong campaign and he replaced Suzuki well.
Josh Tomlin– Picked up late in Spring Training on a 1-year, $1M deal after being cut by the Brewers, Tomlin filled the role of long reliever well in 2019 with a 3.74 ERA in 79.1 IP.
Matt Joyce– Another late Spring Training addition, the Braves bought Joyce’s contract from the Giants and he was a big bat off the bench in 2019, carrying a .408 OBP in his 238 PAs.
Nick Markakis– Not really an addition, but free agent Markakis decided to stay with the Braves on a 1-year, $4M deal with a club option for 2020.
2019 Atlanta Braves Opening Day Roster
The pitching all around got messy quick after being swept in the first series. By year end only Fried and Teheran were still in the rotation and Jackson and Tomlin were the only ones still in the bullpen.
Best Wins of 2019
NLDS Game 3- “The Slide” by Dansby on a go-ahead Duvall double
McCann walks it off
Culberson saves the day
Braves clinch the division
Acuña joins the 30/30 club during a 14-inning victory
Notable In-Season Moves
Traded for Jerry Blevins April 28th
Signed Dallas Keuchel June 7th
Signed Adeiny Hechavarria August 16th
Selected Billy Hamilton off waivers August 19th
Signed Francisco Cervelli August 24th
Acuña chases 40/40- Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. Had Ronnie not gotten hurt the last week of the year he would have finished off his chase to the 40/40 club. Instead he came up just shy with 41 home runs and 37 stolen bases. Still an incredible year!
Mike Soroka– Finally making his 2019 debut on April 18th, it was full steam ahead from there. Soroka made the All-Star team and finished 2nd in NL ROY and 6th in Cy Young voting after carrying a 2.68 ERA in 174.2 IP. He miraculously only allowed 14 home runs when the league as a whole hit an all time high.
The Bullpen- The bullpen was a dumpster fire. It cost the Braves numerous games across the season. Luke Jackson held it together as the de facto closer, but still had 7 blown saves. Would you believe me if I told you they actually got worse after the additions of Martin, Melancon and Greene? The bullpen had a 4.94 ERA after the ASG, compared to a 3.69 before. Luckily the starting pitching, while good in the first half, was even better in the second half.
Musgrove Brings the Rain- On June 10th Joe Musgrove hits Josh Donaldson with a pitch, sparking a benches clearing brawl. This day also seemed to spark Donaldson’s bat. After starting June 3-32, he hit .297 with as many homers as he had hit in April and May combined (7) over the rest of the month. He hit like that for the rest of the season.
Austin Riley– Austin Riley set the world on fire, making his debut on May 15th and belting his first career hit for a home run. He hit 14 home runs through his first 42 career games, then fell off a cliff for the rest of the season.
NL East Champs and the Playoffs
The Braves finished off a remarkable season with 97 wins. The Nationals performed roughly as expected, whereas the Mets “Metted” and the Phillies fell apart midseason and barely managed 81 wins. The Marlins were easily the worst team in the NL.
The Braves were “lucky” enough to get the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs, a team they seemed to match up with much better than the Dodgers or Nationals.
Game 1: The bullpen failed, giving up 6 runs in the last 2 innings; the Braves fell short 7-6.
Game 2: Mike Foltynewicz dazzled with 7 shutout innings as the Braves pulled off a 3-0 win. A shining moment, Duvall crushed a 2-run bomb off Flaherty.
Game 3: Soroka stunned in 7 innings of 1-run ball as Duvall hit the go-ahead double in the 9th for a 3-1 victory.
Game 4: This is where the Braves lost the series, in my opinion. Keuchel on short rest gave up back-to-back home runs to Goldy and Marcell Ozuna before settling in… then Ozuna hit another one in the 4th and Keuchel was done after 3.1 innings. Albies got the Braves the lead with a 2-run bomb, but the Cards tied it in the 8th with back-to-back VERY LOW probability hits. After 9 innings it was tied at 4. Why Julio Teheran came in to pitch the 10th inning of this game before Melancon is beyond me. Right on cue, he coughed up the win. 5-4 Cardinals final.
Game 5: I think we all know what happened here. I’d assume we all still hate Jack Flaherty.
Although the season was cut short, this was a very important year of learning for the young guys on the team. They got a taste of winning and they’re ready for more in 2020. AA has already been making some big moves to improve the club. Just look at the bullpen; only Luke Jackson will be in the bullpen on both Opening Day 2019 and 2020. Baseball is just around the corner and in the wise words of Freddie Freeman, “it’s our time now.”
Thanks for reading our 10 for 10’s series, and our last entry of the series on the 2019 Atlanta Braves. If you enjoyed this piece, check out our Braves History category where you can find all 10 pieces.