It’s becoming apparent that Max Fried is an Ace. He turned in another excellent performance, going six innings and giving up only one run on four hits. It was his third strong start of the still young season. He also flashed a skill that he showed in abundance last year, when he led the league in run support. (Actually I’m not sure if he led the league, but if not he was close; Max got almost seven runs per start last year.) The Braves scored 10 runs on the night, cruising to a 10-1 win.
Ronald is heating up; he had a couple of hits including a double and two runs scored. Dansby, Johan, and Ender also had two hits apiece, and Matt Big City Adams, Tyler Alpharetta Flowers, and Austin Graceland Riley each homered. Riley’s was the three run variety. Even though Albies and Freeman are below the Mendoza Line, the team is scoring plenty of runs. And those two will come around.
But oh that starting rotation! Max may be a legitimate Ace, but when your other cards are a 4, 6, 8, and a 9, that’s not a winning hand. If you’re reading this, I don’t need to tell you what a disaster the Braves once promising rotation is turning out to be. Last night, I was among the many who, upon seeing the awful injury to Mike Soroka, decided the season is lost. I found myself wishing they would just go ahead and cancel the season now.
Today I have more perspective. 2020 is still on track to be the worst year of my now long life, but I can still get excited about our Braves and their chances in 2020. After all, it’s August 4, and the Braves are in first place (by a game and a half over the Marlins—how’s that for an odd and especially meaningless statement?). With the strong offense and excellent bullpen, the Braves chances of finishing over .500 are very good—even if Varsity Fried is the only dependable starter. That will get you in the playoffs, and once you’re there anything can happen.
As to whether AA should go out and trade for a proven frontline starter, of course that would help. But I don’t imagine anyone who fits that bill is available, and in this uncertain season it’s probably not worth the prospects you’d give up for a lesser talent. I’m with JonathanF on this one. We never seem to win a playoff series when the team is good; maybe this strange team in this strange season will have the magic October touch. Our team does have a bunch of former #1 draft picks available to start (Touki, Newk, Wright, Anderson) and maybe two or three young guys will put it together at the same time. It happened in 1991, after all; if that team could go to game 7 of the World Series, why not this one?
By the way, in the Atlanta Braves’ first 25 years, they won the Division pennant twice, in 1969 and 1982. Each season they had only one really good starting pitcher. That was of course the same guy both years, HOFer Phil Niekro. He won 23 games in ’69 and went 17-4 in ’82–and virtually single-handedly won the pennant in a brilliant final week of the season. (Don’t ask about the playoffs those years).
I know, they could cancel the season tomorrow, or next week, or the week after that. A part of me believes it is highly irresponsible for them to be playing at all. But I love watching RAJ run the bases with abandon (stolen base in the first, and brilliant dash home on a groundout in the third), I’m delighted to see Dansby put it all together, and it’s fun to watch Fried show what he can do. Selfishly, I missed baseball, and these games have brightened my life in these dark times.
Wednesday Newk LaLoosh takes the hill for the second game against the Jays. Hope springs eternal. I haven’t given up hope that Sean will find the strike zone with more than half his pitches.