Smyly, Ozuna Power Braves Past Brewers 6-3

Sometimes baseball comes with subliminal messaging. The manager doesn’t have to actually say something to tell you something. 

For example, when Brian Snitker decided to let Drew Smyly face the 2-3-4 in Milwaukee’s lineup in the sixth for a third time tonight with 92 pitches, he was telling you he doesn’t trust the bullpen. It’s hard to blame him right now, but that’s definitely not a decision he would’ve made last season. 

He also told you he didn’t feel good about Dansby Swanson’s bat when he asked him to bunt with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh.Again, it’s hard to argue with that given the way Swanson has been swinging the bat, but it’s another decision he absolutely wouldn’t have made last season. 

In both cases, his gut was right. Smyly navigated the sixth inning thanks to a big 4-6-3 double play, Swanson got another run home on the squeeze bunt, and the Braves came out on top 6-3 in the game. 

We all know this Braves team has some pretty serious defects. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the flaws. But seeing Snitker acknowledge those same flaws and thinking a little bit outside the box to accommodate them was a nice change of pace. Hopefully it continues, and hopefully eventually the gaps will be filled enough where he doesn’t have to. 

Positives: 

  • Drew Smyly is…back? Maybe not completely, but this is a lot closer to the guy the Braves invested $11 million in. Everything this season for Smyly has been based on getting ahead in the count. When he falls behind and can’t go to his curveball as much, that fastball isn’t going to be enough to save him. Tonight Smyly only fell behind 2-0 in the count twice to 23 batters. He only walked one, and as you might expect that was a recipe for success. When he gets ahead in the count, he’s a valuable asset to this starting rotation. 
  • Is there anything more beautiful than a slugger smashing a home run off the opposing team’s scoreboard, admiring it, and slowly rounding the bases to boos from the home crowd? Marcell Ozuna got under some skins in Milwaukee tonight, and it was beautiful. I hope he pounds one off that slide deep left field tomorrow.
  • Obviously Austin Riley’s two-run single in the third inning was a very lucky bounce off Adrian Houser’s shin into center field, but you make your own luck in this game. The Braves drew three walks in that inning to get Riley a chance with the bases loaded, and it ended up knocking Houser out of the game early on top of plating two runs. Houser has had walk issues in his career, but this season he was only averaging 2.7 walks per nine innings entering tonight. For the Braves to work five off of him in three was an excellent sign that didn’t go unrewarded. 
  • Ender Inciarte’s bat is still a pool noodle, but his glove was very valuable in center field. That catch he made to rob Luis Urias in the seventh was really nice. 
  • The catcher hit a triple? In that ballpark? In this economy? Yep, William Contreras tripled and scored in the eighth. 
  • Will Smith is back on the beam. Maybe. We’ll see. It’s a developing situation. 

Negatives: 

  • Dansby Swanson’s road wRC+ is now a ghastly 36. He’s a really solid 116 at Truist Park, but his slashline away from home is .164/.250/.230. Add that to him committing his second error in three games tonight, and the value at shortstop is really low right now. Snitker doesn’t have a ton of options there, but it’s hard to watch right now. 
  • It was fun having a 36-year-old soft-tossing former starter who somehow managed to stop the bleeding in blowouts almost every time, but I think we’re about tone here with Josh Tomlin. The numbers speak for themselves. 
  • The Braves had to use Will Smith for the second day in a row, so he’s probably out of the picture tomorrow. That shouldn’t happen in a 6-1 game, and it might come back to bite them Saturday night. 

Former Brave Of The Day:

Oh, what could have been. Adam Duvall hit a three-run home run off Clayton Kershaw tonight at Dodger Stadium, and all I can do is wonder if last October ends differently with a healthy Duvall. Sigh. 

Quote Of The Game:

“The players make the manager, it’s never the other way.” 

— Sparky Anderson 

Tomorrow’s Goal: 

The 2019 Braves were exactly 18-20 after 38 games. In game 39 they started a 12-4 stretch over the next 16 and never looked back on the way to the postseason. Tomorrow is as good a day as any to start a 2019 reprisal.

36 thoughts on “Smyly, Ozuna Power Braves Past Brewers 6-3”

  1. In this economy?! Haha, I love you, Alan. Great recaps.

    Tomlin pitching in high leverage and having a 6 ERA is about like him having a 4.50 ERA while chewing innings in blowouts and teams aren’t trying. I’ve never actually thought that Tomlin was anything more than a long reliever whose ERA doesn’t matter so long as he throws strikes and gets through garbage innings. He shouldn’t even have been in this game. Not yet ready to declare him dead.

    I loathe needing 5 relievers to pitch 3 innings in what proved to be a 5-run lead by the 8th, but that’s where we are, and Snit really wanted this win. When your team is slumping, get the wins when you can get them.

  2. Question for the crowd: does such a service or app exist where you can pay for a baseball highlight show on demand? Like a $5 per month, 20-30 minute daily show on a sports media app/platform?

  3. Did you guys see where Flowers officially retired due to back injuries and we signed Jonathan Lucroy to a minor league deal? I guess I should have seen that coming. He’s definitely lost a lot of his game but he should be a huge upgrade as a once a week starter.

  4. @3 I do have MLB.TV, but I didn’t think they had a highlight show available on the app. I know they have condensed games and highlights for individual games, but I didn’t think they had a video you could watch where it goes around the league showing you highlights.

    Jonathan Lucroy is probably a better catcher than Jeff Mathis, and that’s about all the positive things I can say. Can someone remind me when Lucroy was a hot name amongst Braves fans? I remember specifically (and stupidly) pining for him at one point. Was it the 2016 trade deadline?

  5. I would expect YouTube to be littered with daily MLB highlights, but of course MLB has probably clamped down on it to such an extent that even the sports cable networks don’t even do it anymore. I mean, how exactly does one gather clips from across all of baseball without having the broadcast rights to show them? If MLB.com and MLB.tv won’t give you a 30 minute highlight reel of today’s best plays, then who can/has the legal rights to do so?

  6. I like having Mathis around. He straightened Smyly out. He’ll be great for guys like Touki and Wright.

  7. If Mathis straightened out Smyly let’s sign him to a multi year deal. I don’t think that’s the case, but if he’s had a positive impact l would love to see him hired as a coach I don’t think he brings enough other positives to justify a roster spot and I don’t think the front office does either.

  8. Some catchers just seem to call a better game. I’m not sure why there isn’t more said about this or why it’s not some sort of a set of stats. It would seem to me that the way the pitches are called (type and location) is really important.

  9. Has anyone noticed that Matt Wieters is still a FA too? If you want a washed up starting catcher as your backup then he’s as good as Lucroy – maybe better.

    I still maintain that Smyly should ultimately be our multi-inning middle reliever to replace Tomlin. But that is dependent upon Soroka returning. Until then he is our fifth starter. Although one could make the case for rotating Wilson/Wright/Davidson/de la Cruz etc… as the fifth starter and see if one of them can be Ynoa-ized. Bryse was not bad last time out.

    Or maybe just let Smyly have 10 days between starts…….

  10. If 84 wins gets you in the playoffs, the Braves have a chance. Way too many flaws. Too inconsistent. Or in many cases, too consistent.
    But this is my 68th year so I will keep supporting them. Now that is consistency.

  11. @ 10 Agreed. Also, exceptional ones can spot mechanical flaws during a game and fix them by calling for a certain pitch. Mathis is one of these guys.

    He can’t hit, but you’re not going to fail to get to the postseason because your 2nd/3rd catcher is a terrible hitter. You have bigger problems if you need to rely on that bat.

  12. BRef’s rosters show little flag icons to indicate each player’s nationality (or maybe it’s nationality at birth or at the time of his MLB debut, as they still show Adrianza as Venezuelan even though he became a U.S. citizen a few days after the season started), and they showed me a way this team is unusual, possibly unique. Riley’s two emergency innings in RF Thursday were the team’s first by a U.S.-born player in the outfield this year. Otherwise, the OF innings have gone to Ozuna, Acuna, Pache, Heredia, Inciarte, and Adrianza – three Venezuelans, two Dominicans, and a Cuban. Every other MLB team has at least one U.S.-born outfield starter, and most have two or three. No previous Atlanta team has lacked a U.S.-born outfield regular; working backwards, one or more of Markakis, Heyward, Francouer, Chipper, Jordan, Klesko, Justice, Murphy, Office, Aaron, and Lum have been regulars each year since 1966, as well as lots of others. I suppose if any more of our CFs are hurt (Acuna was the fourth this year), Riley could become an OF regular, or there could be a trade, or Waters could get a late-season callup. I guess the way to describe the potential record is most outfield innings in a season, or most outfield starts in a season, by Latin American-born players on a team.

    Along those lines, we could easily have 5 Venezuelans (RAJ, Inciarte, Adrianza, Contreras, and Sandoval) in the same game sometime soon; I wonder if that would be a record. A full lineup of Latin Americans would take a couple more injuries or decisions to rest Freeman & Swanson, but it’s not totally implausible to have a lineup of Ynoa, Contreras, Sandoval (1B), Albies, Adrianza, Camargo, and any three of Acuna/Ozuna/Inciarte/Heredia. Don’t know if that would be a first.

  13. Not mentioned on here yet, but Heredia was activated and Camacho optioned. He gets the start against the LHP Brett Anderson. Heredia hits LHP pretty well, and Ender is at least better against RHP than LHP. Heredia/Ender as a platoon is a significant upgrade over Pache, and the one that doesn’t start is a good PH and big defensive upgrade in the late innings in LF. We really missed both of them more than some fans would care to admit.

  14. Don’t lets be in any hurry to take on the Rays. Down 4=1 in the 4th to the Mets this afternoon they came back with 6(SIX) in the bottom half. Added 6(SIX) more in the 8th for a total swamp out, 12-5. Boy they can score quickly when they get a rally going to the extent that Alonso’s and Lindor’s earlier homers were swept aside. They are the Blue Jays on steroids.

  15. Addendum.

    Unlike us they don’t depend on homers to accumulate these totals within an innings. They hit 8(EIGHT) DOUBLES today. NOT a double header.

    Glory be, when is it we have to play them?

  16. Maybe we should lobby MLB brass to disallow any BlueJay games, since they aren’t playing in Toronto.

    With Matlock leading our litigation – we could possibly erase those 6 losses and be sitting at 18-14.

  17. The new Ender, a field analysis.

    Did you see? The first ball hit hard near him…line drive double it turned out to be. To his left so, momentarily, he set a course to intercept it before it crashed into the base of the wall. While his left leg was half way through the first move of that turn he changed his mind regarding any caught interception. Turned all of himself to the point of impact and retrieved the ball from off the wall.

    So. I say that was his moment of truth, no Pache he now but a nervous, slowing Ender. The direction and then redirection of that left leg in the air spoke volumes, anyone else feel that? Easy for me, in Scotland, Winter Ball with frozen, half soused outfielders taught one to observe closely how they attempted to discover- and rarely find- the correct angle of attack.

    Ender, though, had his moment in the sun using the extra air under the next drive his way and made the perfect grab at full, high stretch. Memories.

  18. @21, thanks. Interesting list; I hadn’t realized there were that many Venezuelans on so many teams. As you say, the record is ten, but all 191 teams with even four or more Venezuelans have been in the last 25 years, mostly in the last several years.

    The top of the list, though it doesn’t include any Braves teams, has lots of familiar names – 9 of the top 12 teams include players like Adrianza, Panda, Jhoulys Chacin, Gregor Blanco, Omar Infante, Jose Alvarez, Rafael Ortega, Felix Hernandez, Elvis Andrus, and I think Anibal Sanchez.

  19. I tell you, JonathanF, I get a lot of pleasure from your stathead subscription. I was amazed there were teams with ten Venezuelans.
    On JamesD84’s questions, I remember well the game in 1971 when the Pirates fielded the first lineup with nine Black and Latino players. I don’t know the first time a team fielded a lineup with all Dominican outfielders, but I do know it was no later than 1963, when the Alou brothers were the starting outfield for the Giants for one game.

  20. Something clearly exploded in Venezuelan baseball/scouting. Before 1988, there was only one team with three Venezuelans (Oakland, 1973). Since 2000, there have been 317 teams with 3 or more. I note that Hugo Chavez assumed control in 1999 and I don’t think those facts are unrelated.

  21. I think I’ve counted 5 fly balls tonight by the braves that would’ve gone for a HR last year (because of the different ball) that hit the wall or were caught there.
    2 for Ozzie, 1 for Heredia, 1 for Dansby, 1 for Adrianza.

    That and bad sequencing have cost them a handful of runs tonight. I hope the bullpen doesn’t blow it.

  22. Take of two cities with Riley’s great play to turn the double play in the 6th and then Ozuna misplaying the fly ball in the 7th.

  23. Chip just gave the ole “swing and a drive!” with an unnecessary amount of exuberance on a medium fly ball to the outfield.

  24. @28 yeah, thought we had a tie game for a second there. In his defense, calling games from a studio or wherever he is must be very different from what he’s used to. He still would chipgasm even if at the park, I guess, so ignore that last part.

    I’m liking Contreras at the plate, for the most part, btw.

  25. Snitker’s flowchart demands it be Will Smith, I reckon.

    Oh wait , its not a save situation….flowchart gets fuzzy now….Luke Jackson, perhaps?

  26. First, we suddenly look like world-beaters again. Perhaps it will actually stick for longer than a series this time….

    Second, in answer to Rob’s question at the top, the only highlight show that actually bothers to show baseball anymore seems to be Quick Pitch on MLB Network. Maybe they have that on-demand somewhere, I dunno. If you still have YouTube TV (I seem to recall that you do), you can just add that show to your library and it’ll record it for you every night.

    ESPN essentially gives baseball the same highlight treatment they give hockey, at this point. That is to say, a five-minute block and then they move on to talking about offseason football.

  27. I still think there is some weird match-up magic going on. There have been so few splits this year – always seem to be sweeps one or the other. We just do not match up with the Jays. May be just that our bullpen has too many lefties and their bullpen doesn’t give anything up. But whatever they have works against us. Brewers are just the opposite – seem like pushovers without Yelich. And we seem to have had our way with the NL Central so far.

    And just how good was Jethro Tull for six inning tonight?

  28. I didn’t watch either of the last two games and I’m hesitant to break the winning streak, but re: Ububba from the last thread, I really do like the Squirrel Bait album – super fun teenage hardcore that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    The Louisville acts I’ve really gotten into lately are all around Evan Patterson (Young Widows, Old Baby, Jaye Jayle) and his wife Emma Ruth Rundle (who before she moved to Kentucky was in Marriages and the Red Sparrowes). Evan’s basic sound is post-hardcore, and Emma’s basically post-metal, and the collab album she did with Thou last October (May Our Chambers Be Full) was my most-listened album of the year. They’re my favorite people in music right now.

  29. With the Dodgers’ acquiring Pujols, the career WAR of their roster just jumped almost 100 points. Caused me to wonder where this placed them historically. Kershaw and Price combined are about 108, and Betts chips in another 47.
    But I think overall the roster is too young to rank all that high historically. Bellinger, seager, and Buehler are great but haven’t been around long enough to accumulate big career WAR.

    They do have four MVPs and 3 Cy Young winners on the roster. I wonder if that’s ever been done?

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