Blue Jays 7, Braves 2 – Bravda

It’s been a while since we had a Bravda.

“Bravda,” from the Russian word “pravda,” meaning “truth.”

Austin Riley went 4 – 4 and the Braves knocked Ross Stripling out in the 5th inning, as Atlanta completed their road series against Toronto with their franchise record in Canada majestically undiminished.

The Braves have 15 major league quality pitchers on their roster, according to them, which is an extravagance few MLB teams claim. They were able to use several of them on Sunday, among those was Josh Tomlin, who pitched 3 innings of 1 hit ball.

Although catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Alex Jackson were placed on the disabled list, the Braves wisely had William Contreras and Jeff Mathis stashed away for just such an emergency. The former is a top prospect, and the latter has 16 years of major league experience. One, if not both, should easily top the combined .181 batting average d’Arnaud and Jackson posted.

Contreras was one of 7 starters age 27 or younger, including the aforementioned Riley, who has more hits than errors in several of the last few games. The future is bright.

That future begins at Washington on Tuesday; Huascar Ynoa vs. Joe Ross 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.

79 thoughts on “Blue Jays 7, Braves 2 – Bravda”

  1. Well done, Rusty. I would adapt an old George Carlin line for the outcome:
    “And in a partial score, Braves 2.”

  2. Thanks, Rusty, that sounded just about right.
    Tough luck with TDA as it sounds like he may be lost for the season.
    Now let’s beat the Nats and get back on track. Go Braves.

  3. DOB saying Tyler Flowers still a possibility. Would rather have Contreras taking the ABs, personally.

  4. @7 The Braves need to start churning through some of these upper minors ‘AAAA pro(su)spects’ and instead of shuttling them back to AAA when they fail, start trading them for other lottery tickets or releasing them.

    I am in the minority that when I found out that AAA was going to be in Gwinnett, that I saw it as a bad thing. It’s too convenient and too easy to shuttle dreck back and forth. The Braves need to start paring down some of the upper minors and finding out whether they are MLB players, or not and move accordingly.

  5. @8 Who is not getting innings or ABs that should be right now?

    Plus, the more I think about it, I think they would replace Mathis with Flowers, not Contreras with Flowers.

  6. I think that’s right — playing time was the reason to send him down, but in his seventh year in the system that reads more as biding his time until an opportunity arose than a need for more seasoning. Looks like the opportunity has arrived. I would not expect d’Arnaud to reassume a primary starting role upon his return – maybe 60/40.

  7. The basic issues with the team are the same as they were a week ago, before we beat up on the Cubs for a couple days and started feeling better about ourselves: a slumping offense, a mostly ineffective starting rotation, and a mostly ineffective bullpen. Of all of these, the offense is the only one that is likely to take care of itself. The bullpen will need to be addressed the way Alex took care of it a couple years ago: we will need to spend serious prospects or money. Nate Jones is not so much a ballplayer as a walking metonymy: he is the 2021 Braves season, he is the embodiment of Anthopoulos’s not-quite-enough roster, he is our collective hopes and dreams thwarted.

    But the rotation question alone is existential: if at least one of Max Fried and Mike Soroka do not return to the team healthy and effective, I think we can probably sit shiva for the season. (Unless Drew Smyly does something completely unanticipated, like not suck.)

  8. On Flowers…. I think he’s a real possibility, however I think he’ll be in the same role he was in last year and that is 1/5 catcher, 4/5 mentor. I’d be 100% fine with that. On the other hand, Mathis is an exceptional defender and maybe that’s the mentoring that Contreras really needs at this time.

  9. Rob, for example and I KNOW THEY PLAY DIFFERENT POSITIONS but I’m using it as an example but more Trey Harris and less Ehire Adrianza. More internal options instead of 30+ retreads like Nate Jones and frankly Smyly (I don’t care what anyone says, it was a very very very stupid signing). The Braves need to start finding out what some of their younger players have instead of relying on cheap-ish cast off veterans.

    This roster was comically constructed. Even with the salary limitations, it was truly terrible.

    And I agree, if Soroka doesn’t come back soon-ish, and if Fried has turned into a pumpkin (which is entirely possible) this team is about a 75 win team at the high end. I think Morton is, if not done, very close. He’s pitched to some bad luck, per ERA/FIP ratios but I still think he’s in decline. He doesn’t get the ground balls he used to and IMO he has trouble with location. He’s been at exactly neutral WPA this season, which for your 5th starter that’s probably fine, but he’s not the Braves 5th starter. You don’t pay 15M per for neutrality.

  10. Lots of holes. Lots of guys struggling.
    I think you sign Flowers as a backup, then go get Shane Green.

    The division sucks, so that buys us some time to get Freeman and Ozuna going.

  11. Trey Harris has 146 ABs above A-ball. Adrianza has a .813 OPS. He’s a perfectly cromulent backup infielder.

    Nate Jones is pretty far down the list of preferred options for Atlanta. The injuries/Covidness of Newcomb, Martin, and Touki are the only reason Nate Jones is anything other than a long reliever. I definitely think they should have added another reliever, and I was surprised when we set sail without one, but it’s not like there’s some stud reliever at the alternate site right now while Nate Jones is pitching in high leverage.

    Minor league seasons start tomorrow. I’m extremely confident that if Muller, Davidson, De La Cruz, or Arano are throwing well, they will be in Atlanta and Nate Jones won’t be.

    Baseball sucks sometimes because you spend A LOT of time just waiting for guys to get healthy and/or play better. Ozuna, Dansby, Pache, Freddie, and Smyly need to play closer to their career norms or, in the case of Pache, resemble a major leaguer. Soroka, Fried, Martin, Touki, and, at this point, Ender need to get healthy. When over a third of your roster is terrible or injured, Trey Harris is not going to fix that.

  12. Chief…

    ‘shuttle dreck’…Shakespearean…will live on..

    Alex R…

    The best analysis of what has happened so far…in a single paragraph…

    blazon…

    the 10 day seaside IL…creating new depths of profundity…rebirth…

  13. @11 we will need to spend serious prospects or money.

    Repeats of the Allard for Martin and Demeritte/Wentz for Greene deals would fix us up just fine, and we have the prospects to do those deals. Another frustrating thing about where we are is we don’t get to look at our prospects with any sort of knowledge about what they can bring back in a trade. We haven’t seen them in a year and a half, and the prospect guys seem to be equally clueless.

    @16

    We’re not the only team with a need for a reliever…

  14. @18 I think that the impact long term of a LOST SEASON in an entirety re: miLB is an undercovered entity. There are going to be WIDE RANGING consequences to baseball’s feeder league not playing for an entire year plus that we don’t even know about right now.

    I’d predict that injuries in miLB this year are off the charts high. I think that there will be numerous prospects that their fated paths were altered and some may never pan out because of a year of ring rust. I get that these guys aren’t selling insurance and smoking Chesterfields in the off season… but I do think that losing that entire year will have a larger impact on baseball writ large than what is being really covered.

    That being said, I’m looking forward to going to some New Hampshire Fisher Cats games here in a couple weeks.

  15. I think we might see some action this week. Many times, teams take out insurance on multi-year deals, and while it’s unlikely that they did on d’Arnaud, it could be possible. Good $ is on Shane Greene this week.

    Also, Patrick Weigel looked filthy for the Brewers this last weekend and that made me really sad, especially since the Braves haven’t even utilized Orlando Arcia.

  16. It’s still much too soon to adjust season expectations, however April is in the books written in indelible ink. We haven’t often seen this team, as a division winner, with a losing month. Unless you really consider March of 2019 a losing month (0-3), you have to go all the way back to July of 2018 (10-13). Maybe 2018 is the better analog compared to 2019, in which case this team can pull it together and win 90. That’s what I’m still looking for.

    But for the moment, this team looks very much like a team with more losses than it has wins. I don’t know if Anthopolous survives such an outcome should it prevail to the end. I wouldn’t call for his head, but I also don’t see how the team amasses improvement without an influx of cash to cure the woes.

  17. One thing we learned in the 90’s and 00’s is that huge regular season win totals always equated to championships. Every time we won 100 games, we won the World Series. I lost count after our 7th World Series win of my lifetime.

  18. Weigel is another guy that the Braves chose 30+ year old castoffs over instead of actually seeing what they had outside of meaningless Spring Training games.

  19. If the Braves were to win ~72-75 games this year, I don’t think you fire AA, but I do think you warm up his seat a little bit and ask him what his plan is.

    By the way, what is the Braves Plan ™? In words, what would you say the Braves plan is?

    If Ozuna never warms up, his seat will get even hotter, IMO.

  20. By the way, what is the Braves Plan ™? In words, what would you say the Braves plan is?

    Same as everyone else’s at this point: accumulate as much cheap, young talent as possible, and supplement it with free agencies. Are they supposed to have some niche thing like they only want submariners and shortstops that throw left-handed?

  21. Chief: The Fisher Cats, huh? I lost interest when they dumped Mike Mordecai as manager. (To be completely honest, I lost interest when they left New Haven.) I’ll be attending a few North Adams SteepleCats game this summer, a team too poor to afford a space between “Steeple” and “Cats.” I see they open their season against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats. That’s closer to you, I guess…. Maybe you could scout them for me.

  22. @11 Alex, your writing and logic is always great and I’m impressed by your grasp of a wide range of idioms. I’ll bet 5% of the people here have any idea what sitting shiva is. And I’m not ready to do it for this season yet. Not until we see how Fried and Soroka come along (exactly as you say).

    I have been and continue to be very disheartened by what AA and the Braves did to the bullpen over the winter. I believe this team is just not as good as last year’s team or the year before after the trade deadline. I agree with Donny@22 that this team is more analogous to 2018, if anything. Maybe 2017 if Chief is right.

  23. @25 I think that MLB The Show 21 knows precisely what the Braves’ plan is: #1 Win the Division, #2 League pennant. Some teams are run with the objective of winning the World Series where if there is a move that improves those odds they will pay the cost even at the expense of future seasons. That’s clearly not the Braves.

  24. @30 As hyperbolic as that probably sounds, I have actually pondered whether that is something that could be on the table if not enough of this starting pitching materializes. We are one pumpkin and chronic shoulder injury away from the kingdom riding on Ian Anderson’s arm.

    What does an organization do if it can neither raise payroll nor develop starting talent to field a suitable starting rotation?

  25. @28 – I know sitting shiva, but I don’t know metonymy. It’s got too much Met in it to be a good thing though.

  26. @31 If Soroka is ailed or doesn’t make it back or performs poorly when he does, and if Fried and Morton continue to struggle, in a vacuum, the Braves should consider being sellers at the deadline. The fanbase would go absolutely apoplectic, but it would maybe be the right thing to do.

    It’s pretty clear that the ‘plethora of TINSTAAPPs’ aren’t bearing anywhere near the fruit that was ‘expected’ by… some.

    Sorry, but when I said that you should put very little stock in last year, I meant it.

  27. @35 This league is approaching a point where you just about have to put less stock in last season. When in the history of the game have so many pitchers been susceptible to losing their touch with a baseball or had so many potentially season-sidelining conditions that weren’t linked back to a specific event? I harp on this probably too much, but it’s really frustrating to be a fan of pitching right now.

  28. Mark today as the day we found out Nate Jones has options (to clarify…he didn’t, but I’m guessing he was given an ultimatum and took the assignment).

  29. @36 Some people think the ball is a little less juiced? We knew this already:

    “Major League Baseball will alter the baseball slightly in 2021, though changes to the ball will be subtle.

    According to the Associated Press, a memo sent to all 30 clubs last week cited an independent lab that found the new balls will fly one to two feet shorter on balls hit over 375 feet.

    After the league saw a record 6,776 homers hit in 2019 (the last 162-game season that was played), the home run rate fell from 6.6% of plate appearances in ’19 to 6.5% during the pandemic-shortened ’20 campaign.

    Following the 2019 season, a committee of scientists commissioned by MLB came to the determination that the baseballs had less drag on average than in previous seasons, one of the reasons for the boost in home runs. The key to the boom? Inconsistencies in seam height.”

    Source: https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-to-alter-baseballs-for-2021

    As I’ve said, this league has problems. They know it, too, and they’re seemingly trying to produce a solution.

  30. I’m happy for Weigel that he is having success with the Brewers. However, that just gets me more fired up on the “fire Kranitz” bandwagon. Look at what Gausman is doing with the Giants. I’m sure there is a minor league coach who could take his place.

  31. @31 If Soroka is ailed or doesn’t make it back or performs poorly when he does, and if Fried and Morton continue to struggle, in a vacuum, the Braves should consider being sellers at the deadline. The fanbase would go absolutely apoplectic, but it would maybe be the right thing to do.

    Agreed. It would be like 2014 all over again where so many injuries to your rotation derailed your season before it ever really got going.

    It’s pretty clear that the ‘plethora of TINSTAAPPs’ aren’t bearing anywhere near the fruit that was ‘expected’ by… some.

    I’ve been down on our rebuild efforts more than others, but the emergence of Ian Anderson has changed my thinking a little. The rebuild produced Shelby Miller (and then Dansby Swanson, so I count Shelby as a product of the pitching rebuild), Soroka, Fried, and Anderson in the starting rotation. Ynoa looks promising. So today, you have 4 starter produced by the rebuild and a starting SS that you got from a SP you acquired during the rebuild.

    You have a guy who has finally turned the corner in the pen (Minter), Newcomb, and Jackson that were acquired as part of the rebuild efforts.

    From here, you have a bunch of guys who were acquired as part of the rebuild efforts that the jury is still out on: Touki, Wilson, Wright, Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson, Jasseel De La Cruz. One of those guys might stick in the rotation, and one of those guys will definitely stick in the pen at some point.

    So, all those things considered, is that considered success? If you’re sitting here in July and Soroka and Fried are healthy, Anderson is dealing, Ynoa has been successful over the next 7-8 starts, and Wright or Wilson have at least proven they can be an inning eater with an ERA of 5, that’s a completely homegrown rotation. In the pen, you’ve got 3-4 guys homegrown.

    The clear failure has been just not sticking guys either in the rotation or in the bullpen and giving them a spot for a few to several months. Wisler got 23 appearances in the pen, and then he was shipped off. Sims got 10 appearances in the pen. Touki has had 27. Weigel got zero. Is it good enough to have given 60 appearances across 5 seasons so far to Wisler, Sims, Touki, Weigel, Tucker Davidson (age 25), Jasseel De La Cruz (age 23), Kyle Muller (age 23), Thomas Burrows (age 26)? I say no. And I would think the Braves agree, and you’ll be seeing more of these guys come up once they have some AAA success.

    I’d give the Braves a C+ in their pitching rebuild, but I have to also acknowledge that there’s a lot that can happen for the positive between now and as early as July that could push it to a B+.

  32. @40 I don’t think the Brewers “turned him around” this quickly. It seems he’s making the most of an opportunity AA refused to give him.

  33. @40 Why stop at firing Kranitz when his boss has been the one relying on him?

  34. @41 I agree with much of what you are saying. The reluctance to give some these guys an opportunity to solidify the bullpen when we are trotting out the likes of Nate Jones (and others) is particularly frustrating. It is hard to know what you have in a prospect when they ride the Gwinnett shuttle for an inning here, a start there without ever giving them the buy in that they don’t have to look over their shoulder after every pitch. As inconsistent and bad as Wilson and Wright have been at times, they have never been able to pitch with the confidence knowing that they had a job five days from now no matter what happened.

  35. Solid stuff on the blog all through the day today. Hard to remember so much good sense filling the available space. If you’re a cynic we only do this when we’re in trouble on the field, likely that may be right. Alternatively we were spurred on by major contributions from Rob who got very little real estate work done today it seems. And did you notice the average length of each post was much above the usual. Seems we are trying to contribute to solve what ails. Credit to all.

  36. The Braves have won the NL East 3 straight years, came 1 win away from taking down the MLB juggernaut, and we should put no stock in last year’s accomplishments. That. Is. Absurd.

  37. The Dodgers have had a heck of a week. At one point, they had lost 10 of 13, and they announced today that Dustin May has to have Tommy John. They are now in second place behind the Giants, and they’re a game up on the Padres. Folks on Dodger Journal have asked when their next rebuild will be scheduled. I heard on some chat boards the Dodgers are considering forfeiting the remainder of their season.

  38. @45 blazon, there was definitely less working today. It is interesting to break down why we are where we are.

  39. @47 It’s not absurd. It was a 60 game season in which the team in the market I live in barely even tried to field a team (Red Sox). MANY teams did not take last season seriously, and many of them were ravaged by COVID and some alternatively were not at all. The season last year was a joke and was from the beginning.

    You can choose to use it to absolve this franchise from sins all you want but I’m not going to. They struggle greatly at roster construction and management and player development/trusting their eyes and their scouting and or giving players stability.

    It’s your show here, but your opinion isn’t the only one that exists.

  40. If the team result from last year is wholly consistent with the results of the two prior years (it is), then whether you throw 2020 out or not you’re still looking at a team whose results are superior to ~25 other franchises. What team doesn’t experience a range of outcomes with their prospects? What team doesn’t churn through pitching? A lot of this is just baseball happening.

  41. @50 I think we can accept 2020 as being a “truth” performance year from the Braves and criticize the roster construction of 2021. I do not think that the success of 2020 was an outlier as it was similar to the previous years. The poor start to 2021 is related to several factors including poor roster construction due to filling some needs on the cheap. Is there time to turn it around? Absolutely. Is there a chance they are mediocre all year? Absolutely.

  42. Let me make a suggestion: when your idea to improve things is to fire coaches after a month of the season, you should start to realize that you’re acting like the Mets: https://nypost.com/2021/05/04/mets-fire-hitting-coaches-chili-davis-tom-slater/ Try never to act like the Mets. Not even the new-look-more-money-than-anybody-else Mets.
    Roster construction is really important. Dynamic roster construction, where you address your needs as they arise during the season, including slotting minor-league-quality players into slots they aren’t ready for, is really important, and requires both talent and luck to pull off successfully. Changing coaches in midseason, particularly pitching and hitting coaches, is rearranging deck chairs. It’s actually worse than that: it’s reupholstering deck chairs.

  43. Oh, well, shoot, if the Red Sox didn’t try hard enough, then the entire season may as well not even happened! Man, that sort of Red Sox narcissism is usually reserved for only their actual fans.

    If anything, the extra round of playoffs made the 2020 season more legitimate, not less. Chief just hates the Rays. That’s what this is all about.

    This is one of many 2020 preseason predictions:

    https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/29474430/2020-mlb-season-expert-predictions-division-picks-playoff-field-world-series-winner

    World Series champion

    Our pick: Dodgers (18)

    Who else got votes? Yankees (6), Rays (3), Brewers (2), Braves (1), Nationals (1), Indians (1)

    3 of the 4 actual CS teams predicted at the beginning of the year. The one CS team not predicted was still predicted to win their own division (Houston). It’s not like the Royals ended up winning it all.

  44. Smart money is on Orlando Arcia getting the call today as there are no other position players that can come up unless there’s a player going on the IL.

  45. @50
    How can you look at the current roster and say the Braves struggle with developing players? The expectation of pitchers being studs out the gate is delusional and it’s a rarity when it actually occurs on any team. If the Braves walk out of this rebuild with a solid 5-man internal rotation, that speaks volumes for development and that is a real possibility.

    Since leaving the Braves…

    Matt Wisler has a 4.73 ERA
    Lucas Sims has a 4.39 ERA

    There are many others to list but the sample isn’t large enough to quantify. I mean, Chief, let’s be real here…when does your pessimism end? Pitchers take time to adjust to MLB hitters and Wright and Anderson carried us through the playoffs until we met the best team in the league.

    The Braves have an entire infield that was developed in house. William Contreras is the starting catcher behind the plate. Ronald Acuna is the best player in the league. Cristian Pache is likely the best defensive OFer in the league.

    This isn’t my show, but your complaints have no justification. The Braves have 14 players on the current team that were part of the farm system and you’re complaining about their performance in the first 28 games of a season while eradicating a 60-game sample in 2020. Do you not realize how contradictory that is? It makes 0 sense.

  46. I forgot about Sean Kazmar. He’s also available to come up today. Still, I sure would like to see Arcia.

  47. Hey all! I’ll be watching the Braves live at Truist on May 21st. Anyone want to come join me? Yes, I’ll even let Chief come!

    I’ll be in Section 216, Row 16, and seats 12 and 13. Let me know if you’re interested.

  48. @57, let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. Contreras is our catcher as of now, but like Pache, he’s all potential and no results so far.

    Your broader point basically stands: the farm has done a pretty good job of developing talent, albeit more hitters than pitchers. But as JonathanF says, the key now is for the team to identify and address the weaknesses in the roster. (Billy Beane used to say that the first third of the season was to find out what you got, the second third is to fix the problems you find, and the third third is to let it ride.)

  49. @61 That is a great philosophy, lets just hope that Liberty lets AA fix the roster in that second third and we don’t have to implement the third third in May.

  50. Flight and hotel booked, ticket bought. Ryan and Brent, prepare thyself.

  51. I am getting a bit ahead of myself, but I believe in both skillsets long term.

  52. @60 Can’t be there on the 21st. I’ll be on Lake Chickamauga for MLF.

  53. Also, FWIW, I’m definitely not on board with firing any coaches right now. I ask questions, and it can look like I’m nudging for it even though I’m not. I’m not even about firing Alex Anthopolous. I want all these guys to be the right ones.

    It’s just that ever now and then I catch a glimpse of our GM being human. We all know he is human. It’s just that you like to think he is the best in all of baseball, but then sometimes other GMs make a better move or hire a better staff. Some teams, believe it or not, are going to get better results at some stuff than we do. All that does is tear down the curtain and reveal the man, the wizard, Alex Anthopolous as merely human.

    I prefer to believe that he has the coaches and instructors he wants. When we sour on one of these guys because prospects aren’t lighting the world on fire, it can be tough to accept that this is AA’s decision. That’s his man. Of course, there is such a thing as letting the game play out and see if he renews the contract. It’s just a slow ride to watch play out.

  54. I will be in the Atlanta area for work from the 17th thru 19th…it’s a bummer I am just going to miss you guys while I am down there. I would love to meet some of the long time people from BJ.

  55. Marvin is a successful youth pitching coach now, and I believe he teaches what he preaches — you don’t have to pitch like a holy terror to succeed, even though the game has tilted so far in that direction.

  56. @71…lol I fly in to Atlanta on Sunday and then fly out for Michigan on Wednesday afternoon. The plant I am visiting is actually in Cusseta and our hotel is in Opelika, so it is a bit of a drive to Atlanta but still closer than I normally am so I love being in Braves Country a few days each month…lol

  57. @72 I think it is much more effective to pitch max effort on occasion instead of on a regular basis. Seems like the great ones save it for when they need it, not blowing it out in the second inning when they are pitching to #9 in the batting order.

  58. @72 — He does. My son has a buddy on his high school team who goes to him. My son wanted to try him out too, but I showed him my Marvin’s Freemen Fan Club card from back in the day and told him how much I would love to meet him…
    Interest waned.

  59. @75 I’m glad to hear it confirmed…but as a fellow Marvin’s Free Man I can’t process the idea that it’s become terminally uncool!

  60. Braves Star Wars Names:

    Obi Wan Ken Oberkfell
    Wookie Toussaint
    Jar Jar Jurrjens

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