Blue Jays 4, Braves 1

There are plenty of culprits arguably responsible for the Braves’ lackluster start to 2021.  Is the problem more the offense or the pitching? Lack of depth in the bullpen? Key injuries? Unexpectedly weak starts by most of the hitters?

The problem is too many games against the freaking Blue Jays!  Take away the 0-5 record against Toronto and the Braves are 3 games over .500. (I know that’s cherry picking—take away the team’s 19 losses and we are 17-0.)

Wednesday night’s game was an awful lot like Tuesday’s.  Another excellent outing by the starting pitcher, but another poor performance by the bullpen.  Another night of the offense failing to string hits together to put up any crooked numbers (I used to like that expression, but it’s become a cliché), and failure to mount any kind of rally in the late innings after falling behind.

The best news is that Max Fried appears to be his old self.  Varsity went six innings, surrendering only 2 hits.  He actually faced the minimum through five, but a leadoff walk in the 6th to Biggio (after getting ahead 0-2) led to an eventual run on a double by Semien.  Max left with the game tied 1-1. The Braves’ only run to that point was a long homer to left by Contreras.  Unfortunately, that homer was a rally killer, because it was the only run they scored all night.  Hyun-Jin Ryu deserves most of the credit.  He really is an excellent pitcher, and he was as sharp as he always seems to be against the Braves.

The not so good news (ok, it’s not news at all, but it is a depressing fact) is that the relief corps is a problem.  Sliderman gave up a solo home run to Teoscar Hernandez to make it 2-1 in the 7th.  One bright spot on the bullpen front is that Newcomb pitched a perfect 8th; he looked like pre-covid Newk, which is awfully good. But then in the ninth, with the score still 2-1 Jays, Snit turned to Tomlin.  I noted last week that Josh has been a valuable contributor to the Braves the last couple of years, and he still has a role to play, but high leverage late inning outings is not it. Tomlin surrendered a two run shot to the aforementioned Teoscar, and it was 4-1. 

It’s not really fair to blame Snitker for suboptimal bullpen usage when the options have been so weak.  But–Chris Martin has been recalled and was available to pitch the 9th.  Snit said after the game that he didn’t want to use him when they trailed, and that if he had used him he’d probably be unavailable for Thursday’s game.  For that matter, Will Smith was available (hadn’t pitched since Sunday), but he’s never going to be used when they trail.

This is a pet peeve of mine.  Trailing by one run in the 8th or 9th can be a more crucial situation than leading by 2 or 3 in the 9th.  If you never use your top relievers unless you are tied or leading, you damage your chances of coming back and winning those games.  On the other hand, it is a long season, and you do need to resist the urge to overuse your top bullpen arms.  I’m just not sure that the rule of never using Martin or Smith when you trail is optimizing their usage.

Of course since this offense never seems to score any runs in the 7th inning or later, holding a team to a one run lead may not matter.  The 2018-2020 version of this team was great fun in part because of all the late inning rallies.  I don’t for a minute believe that the difference this year is anything other than luck, but it would be good to see that luck turn. I realize that they came from behind three times in the ninth and extra innings in Saturday’s epic win, but that dramatic result only emphasized how rare it’s been for the Braves to win after trailing late.

I haven’t yet mentioned the worst news of the day: the fact that Mike Soroka will undergo exploratory surgery on his repaired Achilles tendon. I won’t speculate about what that means long term, other than the obvious fact he won’t be joining the rotation in June.  That blow is a big one, but it is softened by the recent performance of the other starters.  The Braves have gotten excellent (not just “quality”) starts in 7 of the last 8 games—two by Fried and Ynoa, and one each by Anderson, Smyly, and Wilson.

During the broadcast, Chip and Jeff were talking about the impact of losing Soroka for a more extended period, and Chip said “As we enter the middle May, the pitching staff is the least of our worries.”  I assume he was referring to the starters only.  He may be right, in that the offense and the bullpen are even more worrying, but I reserve the right to worry about the rotation as well.  I’ll feel better after a few more good starts by Ynoa and Fried.  Morton had the one non-quality start in the last 8 games (how’s that for an understatement); he goes this afternoon in a chance to show he’s OK.

For that matter, although the bullpen has been a big problem, the addition of Martin, Greene, and the good Newk may go a long way to stabilizing the group, and help to avoid overuse of the few solid options.

I for one am still not unduly concerned about the offense, but it is time to for them to start coming around.

  *   *   *

Speaking of Chip, a few more gems from the broadcast:

The game was played in very chilly weather.  Chip said in his chipper voice: “If anyone knows about pitching in cold weather it’s Max Fried,” referring to the fact that opening day in Philly and his second start in DC were very cold days.  What Chip forgot to mention is that Fried didn’t pitch very well in either. 

Chip also mentioned several times that Toronto has now hit 600 home runs in interleague play. See, that’s the kind of number (I won’t call it a stat) that tells you nothing. Is that good? How does that compare to other teams? Are the Blue Jays particularly adept at the long ball when they face senior circuit hurlers?  I don’t know, but the 2021 Jays are very adept at leaving the yard against the 2021 Braves.

One more Chippism: Although I didn’t hear it, Chip at one point said, “Toronto is the Chicago of Canada, if you will.”  I don’t know the context or the significance, but it is true that they are both large cities, are cold much of the year, and sit beside a large lake.

Unlike some on this blog, I have come to almost enjoy Chip.  Y’all may have noticed that I prefer a hopeful approach to our team’s fortunes. Chip’s upbeat attitude has become almost soothing to me.  I give a lot of credit to Frenchy; Joe used to bring Chip down.

  *   *   *

Wednesday was Felipe Alou’s 86th birthday.  He was one of my very favorite Braves when they came to Atlanta (second only to Mr. Aaron).  He was a very good player with the Braves, and he was also a good manager later in life.  Alou was the first manager from the Dominican Republic; he overcame a lot of bias and misunderstanding, and he was a mentor and hero to many who followed.  Happy birthday, Felipe!

 *   *   *

Afternoon game today, Morton against Stripling.  Let’s avoid the season sweep.

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.

78 thoughts on “Blue Jays 4, Braves 1”

  1. I think Chip has hit new lows or sucking. He is obviously butthurt about leaving Chicago. Every game with the Cubs he is breaking down every aspect of their team, stadium and so forth.

    Then he spends the rest of the time crying about changes in the game. He drags Frenchy and Glavine down the path with him.

    Can we not get Jim Powell for TV?

  2. @1
    Frenchy feels above all of Chip’s negativity and I admire him for that. Chip is definitely an energy vampire that sucked the life out of Joe Simpson and is working hard on Tom Glavine.

    For the rest of the crew, we are leaving last thread in last thread. It’s done. Move on. Thanks.

  3. Boy, do I wish this year’s team was better. It seems that their running out of gas against the Dodgers in the NLCS has carried over into this season. For what may be wrong with Freddie, could it be that he’s one of the longhaulers? He just looks fatigued out there. No energy like Freddie of old.

    And look, I get it that they just had two more babies to make it three, but nannies exist in Sandy Springs (even overnight ones), so I don’t see Chelsea and Freddie losing hours of sleep each night.

  4. Second the comment about Jim Powell. I’d like to see him on tv. For that matter, I wish he was on the radio more. I’m not sure why they cut him back this year.

  5. @4

    My totally uninformed guess is that he wanted to cut back the number of games he was working.

  6. Chip is a babbling moron. With the exception of the Nats, I always watch with the other team’s broadcasters. I just can’t take him.

  7. Bad call by Ron washington to stop albies at 3rd with the bottom of this crap lineup coming up.
    So many times Acuña has ran through his stop sign and scored this year.

    Arcia has my vote to come up and replace Dansby as well.

  8. 9 – Agreed, but at least we cleared….checks notes….our 7th hitter Mathis?

    Dansby looked horrible, I was hoping for a squeeze play with him. He needs a day off.

  9. Ugh. Going to regret not getting one or two more across the board because Morton’s letting too many ducks reach the pond.

  10. Forgot Arcia has to stay in the minors till early june to get another year of control.
    Not like that matters with the cheapskates in the front office.

    They are currently wasting his hot streak just like they wasted Duvall in the minors for a whole year.

    I told you guys, this team has no idea what a shutdown inning means. So many of our small leads have been blown instantly in the following inning.

    I’m starting to believe Chief might be onto something and Morton might be ded.

    Whew, almost a 5-2 deficit.

  11. 11 – He has shown zero ability to pitch with the lead this year. Coughs up the lead every chance he gets. And walking the light hitting Biggio to start rallies is getting old.

  12. @13 The walk of Biggio reveals a larger concern. Morton’s BB/9 is his worst since before he revived himself in Houston. His WHIP spiked last year and has remained at a similar level this year. This might be just who he is at this point. Gulp.

  13. I believed the Morton pick up was a decent one, at least compared with the Hamels signing. I still feel like he has some life in him, but then I don’t know if this team does. Something is missing.

    The fact is that most teams have to take a $25M+ risk on an ace caliber starting pitcher in order to be in real World Series contention.

  14. OTOH, Dansby is so solid at SS, it’s hard to give him a day off and weaken the defense.

  15. Re: Chief. This blog works a lot better when you have an intelligent contrarian / antagonist. Sam was an (expletive deleted) and personal attacks are never okay, but FWIW, the quality of the comment section suffered after he was run off.

  16. So there goes Pache with a hamstring. Looks like this situation is going to take care of itself

  17. 18 – Agreed I miss Sam, and I tolerate Chief. Chief sometimes voices my own most pessimistic feelings about the team, and that serves a purpose. The rational part of my brain argues with those pessimistic urges and the majority of the posters here serve that same purpose by telling Chief where he is wrong.

  18. There seems to be some sort of nuance lacking between legitimate gripes about the team —like the fact that half of our lineup currently sucks and our CF is the worst in baseball — and saying everyone but one or two people on the entire team sucks. I’m genuinely not sure why people aren’t able to see the difference in that, And therefore what the actual gripe with Chief is. It’s like he’s been able to convince some of you that the choices are binary — Pollyanna or the sky is falling. Perhaps join the rest of us in the margins?

  19. That ball by Riley is probably a HR last year….
    I’m still looking for an explanation as for why our offense sucks:
    1.New ball
    2.Chipper Jones
    3. NLCS lethargy
    4. Kevin Seitzer changed something
    5. Guys out of shape after the weird 2020

  20. This might turn into a gift for Pache. He desperately needs to work on his swing and some time at AAA could really help. Get him healthy, get him adjusted, get his swing right, and get his butt back to the bigs.

  21. The problem with pulling Morton now is this: What is the alternative? Morton’s Fork, indeed.

  22. What base will Webb fail to cover this time? Place your bets.

    Serious question, will the braves even score an additional run this game?

  23. Waiting until he loads the bases to remove Morton is like begging for a boatload of Grybo’s. You cannot blame Webb when he makes it come to pass.

  24. Morton is decent for a maximum of 4 innings….like a long reliever, surely not a starter

  25. I wanted to see Webb get on base just to find out what sort of catastrophic brain lock he would suffer.

  26. Rob has it right. There’s a wide difference between being a contrarian and tromping over here to upchuck a prediction that Soroka will never pitch again within seconds of the news that he’s having exploratory surgery. The latter does not have any value, nor does saying nothing while things are going well only to pop up like a jack-in-the-box to say the team sucks the second anything goes poorly.

  27. @22 The bar gave you their preference. And have many times before. I’m really getting tired of your petulance.

    Grow up and stop acting like a jilted child who no one would play catch with.

    For the bar, I should start posting his wholly unmoored unhinged screeds to me behind the scenes and also the multiple times he has admitted he was wrong and apologized (half heartedly) only to do the same thing a day later.

    I’m REALLY tired of it.

    Ryan, I’m sorry but as the immortal Aaron Tippin sang, ‘You’ve got to Stand for Something or You’ll Fall for Anything.’

  28. Webb was money today. I do think with Webb, Martin and Greene, the bullpen could look a lot better in a couple of weeks.

  29. Ok…I’m asking for Rob and Chief to ignore each other. Can we get back to adulting and just complain about how bad AA’s starting pitching gambles have royally sucked?

  30. Oh man. This is just not our year, is it?

    The curse of the 21 Braves center field?

  31. @45 something with the ankle; dropped like a rock, but managed to walk off gingerly.

    And apparently Minter sucks again.
    I love the guy for the 3 scoreless against the dodgers in game 5, but he should not be anywhere near high leverage situations right now.

  32. Maybe the curse of deciding not to have anything on the jersey memoralizing the greatest Brave of all-time.

    Also, Minter ain’t it right now. Stop it, Snit.

  33. man kid plays hard .. i want to tell him to loaf ….. dont get hurt .. we need the bat

  34. @ #48

    Seriously? Nothing to commemorate Hammerin’ Hank? Shame!

    That’s bad karma.

  35. Travis Bergen would be a great name for a guy who plays bass for a band on the Warped Tour.

  36. @39 I’m sorry man, but I’m an actual Braves fan, and this is an actual Braves blog. And I’m not going to log on to this website and see someone take a shit on the Braves every two seconds. If he wants to say something irrationally negative every time he comments, I’m gonna respond to him without using personal attacks (once again, I apologize). If he doesn’t want to defend his rampant negativity, he can ignore me. I’m not discussing politics or giving personal attacks — the two rules of this blog — by responding to him. And in so doing, I’m defending the team that I love. And he doesn’t like it, I’m sure there’s a website for people to hate the Braves that he can talk about how terrible 23 of our roster players are. Probably a Mets, Phils, or Nats blog would love him.

  37. Just to get it out there before it happens, I would save Smith for the 10th so that we’re not starting our fourth-best reliever (or worse) with a runner on second while letting our best one breeze through a clean inning. Teams should do this in tie games. Nobody seems to have bothered to notice this yet.

    And we continue not to notice it.

  38. Of course our pen gives up hits to pitchers catchers hitting .107. Nobody gives up hits to Mathis though

  39. At least Kaminski is in fine form . . . .

    It’s been a few years since a team has had the Braves’ number like this.

  40. What in the deepest hell is the point of having a defensive catcher if Chip can call a better game than he can?

    For those not watching, before that pitch to Bichette, Chip pointed out how he swings at the first pitch every time. And what pitch did we throw? Why, a fastball right down the middle to try and get ahead in the count, of course! Idiocy…

  41. What is the record for teams making the playoffs with the most 4 game losing streaks?

  42. Maybe we should sign more lefty relievers to pitch against teams that mash lefties?

  43. wow .. our relief is garbage … lets spend 20 mil on 2 washed up starters … and not resign Melanson for a couple Mil … stupid moves by front office … nobody serviceable at 3B … CF is a bust … bad decisions made this past off season when we shoulda went all in … but the Braves are CHEAP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. @74 Cant wait to see the equivalent of Freeman for casey kotchman and stephen marek

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *