The only place to really start here is Drew Smyly.
He was very clearly a high priority for Alex Anthopolous. Not only did Anthopolous give him an $11 million deal off the back of a shortened season, he did it on November 16th. Less than a month after the Braves concluded their 2020 season, Anthopolous decided he needed to get Drew Smyly through the doors before doing anything else.
Smyly turned in another brutal start on Friday in Dunedin, surrendering six runs (five earned) in four innings on seven hits. His ERA for the season is now 7.38, and the Braves have lost all four of his starts. Tonight was an especially ugly one with a 13-5 final score against the Toronto Blue Jays?
So what do you do with Smyly? A trade isn’t an option and neither is just eating the money and releasing him, so it will have to be something within the club? A stint in Gwinnett when the Triple-A season starts? A phantom IL stint that serves as one or two skips of his spot in the rotation? Just keep sending him out there in the hopes that he will justify the price tag?
We are now exactly one month into the season, and Anthopolous already has a major decision on his hands.
- Marcell Ozuna snapped his 0-for-20 start to the season against left-handed pitchers with a hit off Robbie Ray in the seventh.
- Sean Newcomb is back from his injury. Don’t ask about the results, but at least he’s here.
- You never have to think about that game again. It’s over and done with. Tomorrow is a new day and Charlie Morton is on the mound.
- I don’t need to tell you Drew Smyly has been terrible, but this section is called “negatives” so I’m just going to go ahead and say it. Drew Smyly has been terrible. You never want to get too far in the weeds with takes this early, but the early returns on Smyly are about as discouraging as possible.
- Every now and then in a baseball season you’re just going to get thumped. It’s as much of a fact of the sport as peanuts and cracker jacks or Angel Hernandez having a terrible strike zone. But the Braves lost games by scores of 14-8, 13-4, 7-0 (in an abbreviated game) and 13-5. What that says is that once things go a little bit off the rails, they go completely off the cliff. It is one of the realities of the situation with an underperforming starting rotation and a lack of bullpen depth, but there really isn’t much in the way of damage control. The offense is capable of making comebacks if the game is still in reach, but someone has to be there to keep it in reach.
- Dansby Swanson wracked up three more strikeouts tonight, bringing his April tally to..wait for it..32. And all of that comes in just 105 plate appearances, giving him a strikeout rate of 30.4%. His wRC+ for the season now sits at a cool 70. And by cool, I mean deeply frustrating and enough to make you look at the loaded free agency shortstop class this winter. Corey Seager and Ozzie Albies turning double plays anybody?
- On a night where the contest was never really in doubt in the late innings, Brian SNitker opted against letting Pablo Sandoval pitch. We were all robbed of what could have been a truly beautiful moment. #LetPabloPitch, Brian.
- The Braves are now 0-1 all time in Dunedin, Florida, their worst winning percentage in any ballpark they’ve ever played in. They will have to face their demons the next two days..
- Atlanta pitchers issued seven walks tonight, bringing the season total to 98 in 222 ⅔ innings. In other words, that’s just a shade under four walks per nine innings. Needless to say, that’s one of the big areas of concern after a month.
- Speaking of the end of the month, now is a good time to take some stock in where this team is. They’re 12-14 right now. The rest of the division is treading water right now, but I don’t think anybody would have really taken a 12-14 April if you offered it before the season started.The offense is coming around a little bit, but it definitely isn’t where you want it to be. The starting pitching outside of Ian Anderson and Charlie Morton has been a grease fire, and grease fire would be a generous term for the bullpen. If you were to grade the first month it would probably what, C-? Maybe a C if you give some grace because of the injuries? Here’s hoping May is better.
Former Brave Of The Day:
John Gant allowed just one run and three hits in five innings for the Cardinals tonight in their 7-3 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.
Quote Of The Game:
“It’s expensive agency, not free agency.”
— Wade Phillips
Be in the game in the late innings. The Braves have been down 6-1 in and 7-0 in the fifth inning the last two nights. Just give yourself an opportunity to win late and see what happens.