Braves 6, Phils 3

Fun game, annoying ending.

Spencer Strider went back to being Spencer Strider. 10 days previous, he struggled against the Nationals, giving up 5 ER in 4 innings. Most notably, his velocity was a little bit down and so were his strike outs. That was after he failed to get out of the 5th inning due to a high pitch count in the outing before against the Mets. I would think the team is on high alert with Strider’s inning count considering he’s going to blow past his professional innings total. But they’ll take it one day at a time and this day was plenty good: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 6 K. His lone run was giving up a home run to Kyle Schwarber in the 6th. I’m not sure what the Braves will do with Strider going forward especially with Ian Anderson struggling and Mike Soroka seemingly very far away.

Matt Olson has now homered in 7 of the last 15 games. He hasn’t had a stretch like that as a Brave. He has had some nice stretches like that for the A’s. In 2019, he had a 14 game stretch where he hit 8 home runs. In 2021, he hit 6 home runs in 10 games. We’d all love to see Olson got on a tear in the second half.

Since starting the year hitting .188 on April 27th, Dansby Swanson has hit .316/.368/.511 in 345 PAs. He’s become a fixture in the heart of our order. He’s 3rd in MLB in fWAR during this run. Hot damn.

My brother asked me at the end of June if Austin Riley would hit 35 home runs. I said no, and we put $10 on it. Hold on, hold on, there’s some defense here. One, my brother is very hyperbolic. The answer to most of his prognostication questions is no. No, Chris, the Braves are probably not going to trade for Juan Soto. Two, Austin Riley had 18 home runs at the end of June. Since then, he’s hit 10 home runs in less than a month and has a 1.371 OPS in the month of July. Swing and a miss, Rob.

And then there’s the guy no one wants to talk about: Will Smith. Will came in with a 5-run lead in the ninth, gave up a 2-run homer to JT Realmuto, walked a hitter, and Snitker was forced to bring in Kenley Jansen. For his Atlanta career, he has a 3.87 ERA, 4.92 FIP, and a 1.9 HR/9 rate. That’s not what Atlanta thought they’d be getting when they signed him as a 30-year old with a career 3.53 ERA, 3.29 FIP, and 1.0 HR/9.

But the 32-year old Will Smith is just not going to be a shutdown reliever, and he’s not going to be “worth” what he’s earned in this contract with the Braves. He’s somewhere between a reliever you give a 1-2 year deal to based on the volatility of relievers, and someone you lock up with closer money for a long time. He’s the 6th-highest paid reliever in baseball, and he’s certainly not worth that. But this is the complicated thing with relievers. The Braves value veteran leadership in the bullpen. The Braves value consistency and guys that can take the ball in the late innings every time you need him. Will Smith gives you those things, and your guess is as good as mine for its monetary value. And that guy gave us 11 shut out innings in our World Series-winning playoff run last year, and that also has monetary value. It would not surprise me if Smith once again struggles in the regular season only to put in another lights out postseason run.

There’s a lot of talk on Twitter that Will Smith will be DFA’ed. Yeahhhh, no. You don’t DFA guys pitching in high leverage. You reduce their leverage. You reduce their work load. You be more strategic with match-ups. As fans, we should take our Tums every time he comes in, and hope for the best.

But we won another game, we’re 2 games back, and all we have to do is keep winning baseball games, and there is postseason baseball once again in Atlanta. I’m never going to get tired of that.

25 thoughts on “Braves 6, Phils 3”

  1. If Will Smith’s role (albeit an expensive one) is reduced to late-inning, mop-up work & the occasional extra inning, there’s really not so much cause for heart-palpitation. Call it harm reduction.

    And if he finds his groove again… great.

    Last night, IMO, Snit gave him exactly as much leash as he deserved.

  2. Ozuna playing left and Rosario in right today. Oof. Harris will have to cover 2/3 of Earth.

  3. Really good recap, and fully agree with @1.

    I’d still love your take on unhittable fastballs, Ububba!

  4. @1 As long as Snit manages it (like he did last night) keeps the risk somewhat limited. Throwing him out there with nobody up in the pen when he starts pouring gas on his own fire isn’t a good way to manage the risk.

  5. 2 — Adding to my comment before, Rosario hasn’t looked bad in left (at least in comparison to Ozuna). But it was clear that he wasn’t comfortable in right at the beginning of the year. Don’t know if that was because of the different angles, or simply because he was blind.

    Either way, he has to prove he still has the ability to hit. I’m worried that age 30 has hit him hard. He has over 100 plate appearances now.

  6. @5–I think it’s too early to worry about Rosario’s bat. Given the vision problems, you’ve got to disregard the abysmal April. He hasn’t been good since he’s returned, to be sure, but it’s going to take more regular AB’s to know whether he is suffering an age-related decline or is simply taking some time to get his timing and mechanics back. Given Duvall’s injury, we will be seeing Eddie in the lineup pretty much every day for a while. I’m cautiously optimistic he will get hot soon.

  7. #3
    I mean, I saw Dwight Gooden (as a Met) & Nolan Ryan (as an Astro) up close in Atlanta, saw Randy Johnson up close (in the bullpen before Game 5 of the 2001 NLCS)… J.R. Richard also comes to mind.

    Would’ve loved to have seen Koufax, Sam McDowell, or Jim Maloney in their primes.

    In his early years, Gooden had a fastball that seemed to rise. But what you also noticed was that he just challenged guys, like he was saying, “You’re no good. You can’t hit me.” He had a killer curve, too, but he just blew thru people.

    Ryan was terrifying, but he walked so many guys that you also kinda felt like you were still in the game — maybe someone can run into a heater & hit a 3-run HR. But when his curve was working, you might as well go home. Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium had interesting acoustics, so Ryan’s fastball popped the mitt like no other in that place.
    (Of course, there’s the Norm Cash story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEboSkPUgUo.)

    The Big Unit was blazing, sure, but it was the mix with his slider that made him impossible. He was a giant lefty Ryan with a Carlton slider — and a raging mullet, of course. When he figured out how to pitch (post-Montreal), he was completely unfair.

    Early Clemens comes to mind, too, but FWIW, I never had much luck with him in-person. Saw him when he was on the Red Sox & Blue Jays, but most of the times I saw him his command was off & he got beat up. I remember one game at Shea Stadium, he gave up a vicious one-hopper to 1B that bounced off Carlos Delgado’s neck into foul territory… a different kind of infield single.

    The thing about Strider (when he’s on) is that it just seems that the hitters don’t react the same way they do to other pitchers’ heat, like they can’t quite time the thing, like the ball’s on them before they know it. So many swings & misses, so many defensive swings, so many uncomfy ABs. Glad he’s on our team.

  8. we always lay a egg ..a day game after night game on the road .. fully expected our bats to sleep today

  9. Lineup friggin sucks, even if Acuña was in there, he’s hitting .209 with .252 slugging his last 33 games.
    At least Rosario might be waking up, just in time for some of the comments here.

    Morton has a tough 4th inning, so the offense has a 4 pitch inning, to send Morton right back out there and get predictably hammered.

  10. Thanks, Ububba! The ball just jumping on you, that’s the key for me. That’s what makes his fastball so special.

    Matt Olson is some kind of hot.

  11. Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Wormer, he’s a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer, dead!

  12. @19 probably should have gotten to the ball that Rosario had to dive for and missed, too.

  13. Day off tomorrow… then it’s 26 games in 27 days — that includes 2 DHs & 3 off-days.

    And let’s go, Yankees: German vs. Scherzer.

  14. Well, bless their hearts!

    In fairness to the writer, the Pirates have been clutching on to Reynolds so tightly that I think they may have a similarly overinflated sense of his value.

    And as Pirates outfield trade targets go, he’d be a good get. I wouldn’t trade Charlie Morton for him, but I’d still be willing to let go of Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke.

  15. Rob, you done good, and not just for a lizard lover. You done Bulldog good.

    This place. Ain’t it great?!

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