Fish 8, Braves Zip

About 45 minutes before game time last night, we were preparing dinner and getting ready to settle in to watch the Braves and Marlins. All of a sudden I heard a loud crashing sound and looked up to see our 14 year old miniature poodle Sophie come tumbling down the staircase.  With a sickening thud she hit bottom on the hardwood floor.  I rushed over to her and it was quickly apparent that she was injured.  She couldn’t put any weight on her left rear leg and she was obviously in pain.  Our regular veterinarian office had just closed, so I called our region’s one 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital.  They advised us to bring her in for x-rays, about a 30 minute drive away. 

We left the house about the time of the first pitch of the game.  Once at the vet hospital, we handed her off in the parking lot and sat in our car, waiting for word.  We were pretty certain she had broken or dislocated a leg or a hip or both.  Of course we both surfed the internet looking up all the things that could be wrong and reading about possible treatments and prognoses.  With a dog her age, the possibilities could be dire.  At one point, the doctor called us and asked permission to sedate her to do the x-rays.   

 I tried to listen to the game on the radio—a little distraction might help.  But the news on the radio was not helpful.  Our guys quickly fell behind. Wright gave up solo homers in the second and third and a two run shot in the fourth.  He exited after four innings, having surrendered 5 runs on 7 hits and two walks.  He threw 83 pitches, only 47 of which were strikes.  Meanwhile, the newest Phish Phenom, Sixto Sanchez, was as good as advertised.  Through six innings, he shut out the Braves on 2 hits with 6 K’s.  I turned the radio off after the 4th inning; we didn’t need even more depressing news as we waited to hear from the vet.

I did keep an eye on the MLB app on my phone, and noted that in the bottom of the 7th (after Luke Jackson had surrendered a run in the top of the 7th), Sanchez left after a hit and a hit batsmen.  The Braves eventually loaded the bases, bringing d’Arnaud to the plate with two outs as a pinch hitter for Inciarte.  We were looking for miracles, both in the vet hospital and in Truist Park, so I quickly turned the radio on, only to hear Travis ground harmlessly to short, ending the only run scoring threat of the game.

The Braves went quietly in the 8th and 9th, the Marlins tacked on 2 more in the 9th off Jacob Webb, and the game mercifully ended 8-0.

 *  *  *

As I heard the bad news on the radio about another poor start by Kyle Wright, and reflected on Mike Soroka’s season ending injury and now Max Fried’s back that landed him on the IL, I thought of Sophie’s plight as a metaphor for this season for the Braves.  With all the pitching injuries and failed efforts, this season’s once high hopes have come crashing down like Sophie’s abrupt tumble down the stairs. 

I don’t have any good news to offer about the Braves’ pitchers.  The status of the starting rotation is bleak. We can hope that Fried just needs to rest a minor back injury and will be back as good as ever in another week, and we can hope that Anderson will pitch like the guy in his first two starts as opposed to the guy in his third. Maybe Tomlin will pitch like he did in his last start.  Maybe Milone will be a serviceable innings eater.  Perhaps Hamel will finally come to the rescue in the last week of the season.  And I hear that Folty has gained weight and velo on his fastball.  (I have no hope for Kyle Wright this year, but I’m not ready to give up on him long term.  He is not that far off, but obviously he needs to figure out command of his pitches.)

But all that is slim hope indeed.  As several noted here yesterday, the current rotation, especially without Fried, rivals some of those of the 1970’s in futility.

 *  *  *

Nevertheless, don’t give up hope.  Shortly after the game ended, we got great news from the vet.  X-rays were negative.  Rather than a break or a fracture, the doc diagnosed a hip ligament strain.  Sophie will struggle for a few weeks, but she should be able to recover fully.

Can we expect such a turnaround from the Braves’ starting staff?  It’s too much to expect, but it’s not too much to ask.  Our team still leads the division by 1.5 over the Phils and 2.5 over the Fish.  And remember, even a third place finish could land a playoff spot.  And once you get to October, it’s a crapshoot (right, JonathanF?).  We will need to roll a boatload of lucky dice to get anywhere, but you never know. 

But one key the rest of the way is to beat these Marlins a few times.  I figure Sophie has watched over a thousand Braves games in her now long life.  She’ll be laid up on the couch for the rest of this season, so let’s win some for her! And let’s start tonight—Tommy Milone faces Pablo Lopez.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

35 thoughts on “Fish 8, Braves Zip”

  1. Thank God for that, tfloyd! Maybe it’s a metaphor and maybe it’s just a blessedly unrelated piece of fortune, but something good happening to someone in 2020 is about as cheering a piece of news as I’ve heard all week.

  2. A good point made on Twitter is that we have not committed to this batch of pitching prospects the way we did the earlier ones. Obviously times are different, we’re trying to win a pennant, but I was shocked to see that Kyle Wright only has 9 career MLB starts. Touki has 10. Bryse Wilson has 5. Is our playoff seeding so dang important that we don’t want to just let them throw as many innings as possible during this whacky season? I don’t get it. We’ve given 21 IP to Robbie Erlin, and he has an ERA of 7. Milone has 2 starts, giving up 8 ER in 6.1 IP. We are where we are in regards to pitching and we’d be better off letting the kids throw vs. letting the journeymen do their journeymen thing. And to a lesser degree, this gets back to the Folty situation. Whose spot does Folty take? Milone? Or Wright?

    It’s a big 3 weeks. We have 21 games left. Fried and Anderson will make 8 of those starts, obviously. How will the other 13 be disbursed? Are we really going to give Tommy Milone 4 of the 13? How many of those are we possibly going to win? 1? Maybe 2? Are we significantly less likely to win those 1 or 2 games if Touki made those starts? I don’t envy their position and I definitely don’t blame them that we have this many pitching problems. But I hope we don’t keep throwing journeymen at the problem.

  3. @ 3 that has been my point. I would much rather ride or die with guys that have some upside and a chance to improve instead of known mediocre commodities that honestly haven’t produced any better than the kids we have thrown out there.

  4. Very glad Sophie will be ok. The Braves likely won’t be so fortunate. I was optimistic about the season a few weeks ago, but I just don’t see how this pitching staff can hold up. It is absolutely horrible. Maybe, just maybe, we can hold on to second place in the division, or squeak in as a 7 0r 8-seed. Maybe. But then we are up against it in the playoffs, so I’m not really looking forward to it. Just seems like this will be a lost season.

    And the Marlins are vastly improved. You have to give them props for the rebuild.

  5. @3 We agree.

    IMO, I’d even have Folty up now. He’s not 25 but he’s still young enough to in theory have some value, etc.

    Trotting out journeymen in this COVID season where it doesn’t seem that people (or the players either, IMO the quality of play has been dreadful) really care very much is IMO foolish. My point with Wright or Touki is… how much more do you need to see? 25 starts, 50 starts?

    Maybe a question for discussion is ‘when WOULD an org… know that a player is not what they thought they were?’

  6. @3
    Agreed – let the young kids play. It’ll be huge for the team over the next 2 or 3 years, which is still part of this competitive window we’re in. But to take advantage of it, and given the lack of Liberty’s interest in acquiring a real ace – – this team’s success is absolutely dependent on a young ace developing (or two). Let ’em play!

  7. Wright will never develop into even a serviceable ML pitcher unless he develops command. But with command, his stuff really is good enough to thrive in the bigs. The same is true for Touki. Of course developing command is far easier said than done, and many never do develop it. But some do, and it does happen fairly regularly; that is, command is not something you either have or you don’t.

    If they are going to develop command, it will take repetition and experience. As some pointed out a few days ago, Wright really doesn’t have a lot of professional experience, in the minors or majors, compared to many of his peers.

  8. My comment there @9 is not exactly a hot take. Anything else to offer, Captain Obvious?

    But my point is that although we can’t count on anything from them this year, it’s far too early to give up on Wright or Touki.

  9. @12–Myself. I reread my comment and realized that my take about needing to master command to succeed is almost too obvious to state. And it agreed with yours in which you agreed with Rob that it’s better to use pitchers with some upside than rely on journeymen.

  10. I understand from the perspective of believing that command can be ‘fixed’ and if the stuff is there you give them a longer leash. Having said that, I believe that the Braves as an org overrate their pitchers’ stuff in general. IMO Wright’s stuff is barely plus. Wilson’s is average and Touki’s is just hard to define.

    We don’t have a single guy throwing very high 90s with sink or remotely controlled movement. Ynoa and Touki are similar. IMO, Ynoa will have a career, I’m pretty certain that Touki will not.

    It’s not just the Braves, though. The Tigers did the same thing with Mize. He’s just a guy. Looks the part, though!

  11. Ozzie Albies can’t fix the pitching staff, but he can certainly put a smile on my face. I am so thrilled he’s back.

  12. Well, I guess Camargo isn’t nursing a secret injury and we did decide to basically just give the starting (now backup with Ozzie back) 2B job to Hech. That’s interesting. Also interesting is that none of the beat writers made so much as a peep about this decision even though it clearly happened like a week ago. It’s certainly a defensible decision, don’t get me wrong…especially now that the position is as a backup 2B. But it’s just weird that Camargo might as well have disappeared off the face of the Earth a week or so ago and nobody mentioned anything.

    Also, good to have Ozzie back obviously.

  13. Maybe 2017-2018 Camargo really was a fluke. Stranger things have happened than for a guy who you never expected to succeed to revert to expectations.

    He had a clear path to a regular job this year, and he pooched it. If he wants another chance, he’ll have to bust his hump. Tough noogies in the big city.

  14. I share the general sentiment that it’d be better to ride for die with our young guys (especially with so many of them desperately needing MLB-level innings to prove themselves). It’s hard for me to not feel this has to do with manipulating service time.

  15. The smart move was to move Camargo down if you plan on utilizing him in the playoffs where Hech’s skillset isn’t need. With Albies added, Camargo would become Culberson and what we need is for Camargo to become 2018 Camargo/late 2019 Camargo. Get him some ABs, get him some concentrated time with a hitting instructor, and bring him back 4-5 days before the playoffs begin to see if he’s fixed.

    Kyle Wright showed a fastball that had a lot of life last night. He still didn’t have command and that needs to come, but it’s likely repetition and a lot of offseason work. Hopefully, he sees the value in investing in an analytical offseason like Driveline to harness location. The stuff is 100% fine and the FB is an above average pitch when located.

    I’ll continue trust David Lee’s eyes.

  16. @20 as frustrating as it was watching Wright last night, I would much rather see him than Millone or Erlin. Reps are going to help him (hopefully), but the other two they are what they are (not good)

  17. Couple years ago, I took some of the elite pitching prospects at the time and how many starts in the high minors they had. 40 starts in the high minors seemed like a decent amount of time based on everything I saw. That’s around a year and a half of pitching in the high minors. If you’re not pitching well after 40 starts against best low-pressure competition you’ll see, then something is probably wrong.

    Wright has 45 starts in the high minors, along with any work he’s gotten this year at the alternate site, so he’s passed that threshold. He did only have 9 starts below AA, FWIW. Touki has had 41, and tons of starts in the low minors. He’s made 121 starts at all levels. Almost double Wright. Bryse Wilson has made a total of 81 starts professionally, 39 in the high minors. Max Fried made 93 starts in the minors, 36 in the high minors. Soroka made 67, 33 in the high minors. Ian Anderson made 80, only 30 in the high minors.

    What does this tell me? No idea. Wright was a very polished college pitcher, so the low amount of low minors starts doesn’t bother me. He’s gotten a lot of action in the high minors. But even for getting rushed through the levels rather quickly, he’s performed well. He’s just hit a wall at the major league level where he just can’t throw strikes at the consistency he’s done so in the minors.

    One thing about Soroka and Anderson is that they pitched well at just about every stop. Only Fried is a little bit of an anomaly that he struggled at some levels, but he also had a recurring, nagging injury like blisters.

    I feel like Touki’s development has made more sense: he simply hasn’t been good anywhere he’s gone. Take a look at his minor league numbers: https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=toussa000tou Does that look like a guy who is destined to be a front-of-the-rotation starter? I don’t want to scout the stat line, but at some point, I don’t care how much your curveball falls off the table or how good your fastball is. At some point, you need to get inferior competition out consistently. And if his stuff is so good, stick him in relief and see if that works. And man, he’s not young. He’s 24 years old. He’s been in the org since Coppy was sending 9-paragraph texts.

  18. @22 Wright showed some stuff yesterday and located some pitches really well. Was that dumb luck? It could be I guess, but to be successful in the majors (has been stated here many times) you either need great command or top shelf stuff. Wright and Touki have neither

  19. Your second paragraph tells me that it is absolutely not too early to be very suspicious of these guys. The Braves need to start converting some of these guys into obtained assets while they still have some bloom on the rose, IMO.

  20. I would like to have seen Camargo take some at-bats from Markakis and Inciarte, but that was never going to happen, and he hasn’t earned it anyway.

    Apart from Fried missing an upcoming start, this is the same team as it was 2 weeks ago, so let’s not freak out too much over 5 games. The rotation is no more dire than it was back then, although it is certainly dire. I’m not even sure it’s fair to call it a rotation, since there are 3 relievers in it.

  21. @24 If it isn’t already too late. I figure the word has to be out on most of these guys. The names we were hearing at the deadline were Anderson, Pache and Waters. Those other guys won’t get us much back anymore I am afraid

  22. @24 I definitely agree with that. There has definitely been a theme with our batch of prospects from the rebuild until now that the ones that have immediately pitched well in the major leagues immediately pitched well in the minor leagues (except for Fried and his blisters). But the pitchers that have struggled to adjust in the minors have either been inconsistent or bad in the major leagues.

    One name we haven’t seen yet who has been quite good in the minors according to the stat line: Kyle Muller. 67 total starts in the minors, 3.01 ERA, though lots of walks. If you get drafted as a high schooler and make 67 starts that are mostly really good, and you’re left-handed, that’s encouraging.

  23. (Continuing from last thread)
    Chief, the Braves have drafted the following pitchers in the top-10 of the draft:
    1977 Tim Cole (4), injured, never made the show
    1980 Ken Dayley (3) 83 era+ in first year, good career
    1982 Duane Ward (9) 53 era+ first 2 years, great career in relief
    1986 Kent Mercker (5) terrible cup of coffee (4.2 innings) then immediately good. This guy is the exception, not the others!
    1987 Derek Lilliquist (6) 91 and 73 era+ then good
    1988 Steve Avery (3) 72 era+ first 100 innings
    2009 Mike Minor (7) 63 era+ (in about as many innings as Wright has now…) then good
    2016 Ian Anderson (3) good so far
    2017 Kyle Wright (5) … we shall see

  24. Meh. Most of those guys were nothing more than just guys other than Duane Ward. I’d be willing to bet the flame out rate of 40 IP of 9 ERA and 2.00 WHIP vs. becomes a productive MLB pitcher is 85-15 at minimum. Plus, teams were and could be MUCH more patient back then. The entire game has changed in that regard.

    I doubt Kyle Wright is 1/5th as good as even Ken Dayley was in his career. WAR wise.

  25. I think Touki is a weird case as in he started pitching at 16 or 17, so if we are saying Fried took 7 years in the minors to “get good”, then Touki right now is 7 or 8 years from when he actually started pitching for the first time.

    I don’t know, but I thought we saw he had some potential in some of his starts earlier this year. Just a matter of his mechanics getting screwed up mid game.

  26. @Chief

    I’d like to see a 10 year history of guys that have had good careers that you’ve given up on. This isn’t to call you out, merely to show that your expectation of young pitchers (and Austin Riley) is the 5%, not the norm. There are a lot of guys that take multiple years to figure it out.

    I do think you might be on to something when it comes to polish over production. The polish aspect has paid off with Soroka, Fried, and Anderson (small sample alert), but maybe not on someone like Touki who should likely be focused on relief, locating an upper 90s Fastball and devastating curve in 1 inning stints. Whether we want to believe it or not, if the Braves farm produces 3 guys that can slot 1,2,3 for the next several years, that’s really good. It’s a hard sell, but it’s the truth.

    Bryse Wilson is an org mistake and likely shows the downside of desperation (2018 callup). He’s shown above average ability in the Minors but was called up way too early and his development is still trying to play catchup with pitches still in development. I still believe he has workhorse back of the rotation ceiling, but I’m afraid that his stuff doesn’t really fit in 1-inning stints so it’s rotation or bust.

    Tucker Davidson and Kyle Muller are just the next 2 in line, but maybe AA is smart in pumping the brakes on guys that still need development.

    I’m going to disagree with Rob here. Wright was not a polished pitcher in college. He only started 30ish games in college and was even seen as more potential, less polish coming into the draft (balloon guy).

    I’d like for the Braves to utilize Tyler Matzek as a starting pitcher in 2021. He’s carrying elite peripherals and his OPS against RHH is a respectable .706 and .508 against LHH. With a good strength and conditioning program, he could be a great #4 to slot in behind Anderson.

    Next year, I truly hope they just get this crap squared away, give someone the number 5 slot and let them learn at the MLB level if there’s nothing left to prove in the minor leagues.

    Also, let’s not forget that one of our highest ceiling pitchers is Jasseel De La Cruz and we haven’t heard a word about him and I kinda like that. I hope he crushes.

    Don’t give up yet, folks. Between Muller, Davidson, Jasseel, Touki, Bryse, Wright, Shuster, and Newcomb, somone’s bound to figure it out and give us a back end that doesn’t disappoint us daily.

  27. Remember when Sean Newcomb started 49 games and 264 innings between 2017 and 2018, carried a 4.06 ERA and was moved to the bullpen because that wasn’t good enough for the rotation?

    That’s really amusing right now.

  28. About Touki and Wright: it can take 20-25 starts before you know what you have. These two are about half way to that point. I think we need to be patient, as trying as that is.

    I was listening to Eric O’Flaherty on DOB’s show and he had some useful observations about young pitchers. He said that at a certain point, in their own minds these guys have to stop being prospects. There is a certain fear of failing as well as giving MLB hitters too much credit. As long as you’re a prospect, you have permission to fail. In so many words, we was saying that these guys need to become stoic. They need to see the end coming for themselves and decide that if their careers are going down in flames, to go down attacking. These two will be very good starters once they get aggressive.

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