The good: Spencer Strider tossed innings 2 through 5 of this bullpen game, and he was terrific. He held them scoreless, striking out 8. He gave up 4 hits, but he didn’t walk anyone. I think we will see him in the rotation sooner rather than later.
The bad: Jesse Chavez pitched the first inning as the “opener.” He didn’t walk anyone; the guy is a strike throwing machine. But as is sometimes the case, he wasn’t fooling anyone. He allowed 3 hits, including a 2 run double by Rowdy Tellez. (Extra credit for the oldsters out there: why did “Rowdy” make me think of the theme for this recap?) Even the outs he got were hard hit balls. So thanks to Jesse, the Braves started out in a 2 run hole they never recovered from.
The ugly: Actually, the Braves did get out of that 2 run hole, scoring 2 of their own in the 4th to tie it up. So thanks to Aragorn, it was a tight 2-2 game heading to the 6th. In the 6th, Colin McHugh allowed a couple of baserunners, so Snit turned to Matzek with the lefty Tellez coming to the plate. Tyler threw 23 pitches in the 6th, and only 9 of them were strikes. The Brewers scored 4 runs in that inning without the ball ever leaving the infield; 4 walks, 2 infield hits, and a throwing error made it one of the ugliest innings you will see.
The good: Ronald Acuña hit his first home run of the season—a 450 foot bomb. The kid is back. (And although not good, exactly, you’ve got to watch the replay of Ronald coming out of the batter’s box on that hit.)
The bad: That 4th inning homer was the only Braves hit off Brewers starter Eric Lauer through the first six innings. (They did manage a second 4th inning run on 2 walks, sloppy defense by the Brewers, and a sac fly ribbie by Ozzie.)
The ugly: Our Braves only managed 3 hits total on the night. The offense continues to suck.
The good: the Braves finally got their second hit off Lauer in the 7th. When Ozzie singled following an Ozuna walk, they had 2 on with 1 out. (Ozzie looked good at the plate; in addition to the rbi sac fly in the 4th, in his first AB he hit a rocket off the pitcher’s foot but got thrown out thanks to a lucky bounce.)
The bad: Travis hit into an inning ending double play to end the 7th inning threat.
The ugly: The Braves offense sucks.
The good: Dansby hit a line drive home run to right in the 8th
The bad: It was a solo shot so it only cut the lead to 6-3.
The ugly: The Braves are second in the league in homers, but the overwhelming majority of them have been solo shots. That’s what happens when you are 12th in the league in OBP. Despite all the long balls, our guys are just 10th in the league in runs scored.
The good: Let’s talk some more about Strider. He was far and away the bright spot on the night. It’s not just that he reaches 100 mph with his heater. He has a pretty wicked slider, and he throws strikes! (pay attention, Muller, Elder, et al).
The bad: The bullpen overall is not the strength it was projected to be. The sample size is still small, and relievers can be volatile, so no need to get overly concerned. McHugh’s ERA is now over 6, but you can blame Matzek for the 2 runs Colin gave up last night. I can’t help but worry a little about Tyler. He’s had several poor outings in a row–he’s lost command—sure hope it’s nothing physical.
The ugly: The Braves went with the bullpen game because none of the projected 5th and 6th starters have gotten the job done. The starters other than Fried, Wright, and (mostly) Anderson have been terrible. Chavez’s 2 1st inning runs didn’t help the starting staff ERA. Ynoa, Davidson, and Muller have been awful when given the chance. Elder showed some promise, but he’s not big league ready. Any of those guys may turn it around, but it will have to be in Gwinnett. It’s time to go back to regular rest for the top 4 starters. Morton is going to get on track, but right now it’s hard to see who to turn to after the top 4
The good: If you squint, you can see signs of hope—Ronald is working his way back into being Ronald, Dansby has heated up, Olson and Riley have been solid, TDA is healthy and good, Ozzie is coming around (I think).
The bad: The offense still struggles nightly to put together anything other than solo home runs.
The ugly: Meanwhile, the deficit to the Mets is now 7 games—and unlike previous years, this Mets team may not be LOLMets. Unlike last year in particular, the Mets may actually have what it takes to stay good all year, so that the Braves can’t wait another couple of months to figure it out.
But as I keep reminding y’all (and especially myself), it’s still very early. There is plenty of time to turn it around, but I’ll start to feel better when they can reel off 4 in a row, or 8 out of 10, or 16 out of 20. Tonight’s a good night to start that—Varsity is on the hill, it’s Hank Aaron weekend. I’ll be in the crowd, wearing my 1974 #44 jersey. Let’s win a few for the Hammer.