Braves 2, Pirates 1

A win’s a win, even if you wish you weren’t white-knuckling the cellar-dwellers.

The tl;dr of the game: Jake Odorizzi looked better (though he was putting away a team of scrubs); the offense was mostly asleep, other than Michael Harris II; the bullpen hung on.

Both Odorizzi and Kenley Jansen looked the best they’ve looked in their current uniform, though the punchless Pittsburgh lumber had something to do with that.

That said, as Ben noted on the broadcast, these Pirates have a knack for playing close games: of their 122 games played, they’ve been in 73 games decided by one or two runs, and they’ve gone 30-43 in those affairs. The Braves have played 52 such contests, and are 32-20 in them. The thing is, when you’re as hapless and star-deprived as the Pirates, a one-run deficit is a lot harder to make up, and a one-run lead is a lot less confidence-inspiring — if your pen happens to cough the run back, your batters are a lot less likely to pick them up.

These Pirates do have some good players. Star center fielder Bryan Reynolds was mostly quiet, with just a single and a hat trick of strikeouts in four appearances, but I have to imagine that it hasn’t been easy for him to play through the incessant trade rumors. Word on the street is that the Pirates’ asking price for him was just insane and so they’re left holding the bag, just like the Cubs with Ian Happ and Willson Contreras.

But then rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz hit an utter moonshot, and you could see what the fuss is about. He’s still under the Mendoza line but the guy has tools for days. And the starter Roansy Contreras, a onetime hot prospect himself, kept the Braves’ batters off balance and they tipped their cap to him relentlessly after the game. Probably their best player of all is hurt, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (Charlie Hayes’s son), a wizard with the glove who’s no slouch at the plate.

Still: Dennis Eckersley wasn’t wrong.

You talk about a no-name lineup. There’s no team like this. I’d love to see some of the service time: you add it all up, it’s not much.

You know, we just came from Kansas City, seeing all those young kids… this is different, though. Doesn’t it seem different? They have a lot of prospects they’re playing over there… This is a hodgepodge of nothingness.

It’s ridiculous. It really is. Pathetic.

39 thoughts on “Braves 2, Pirates 1”

  1. Oneil Cruz is fun to watch! He looks/plays like a video game character – he’s 6’7″ 210 lbs, can throw near 100 MPH from shortstop and hit the ball to the moon (like he did last night). He kinda looks like a praying mantis out there on the field. The off-the-charts physical tools haven’t yet translated into consistent production but he’s only recent passed the 200 PAs career mark. Definitely a unique talent, I wish him luck & continued development.

    The Pirates had a nice big window to sell high on Bryan Reynolds, and looks like they missed their chance to sell anywhere near peak value. He put up a 6 WAR (.302/.390/.522) season last year as a 26 year old and is on track to finish 2022 with sub-3 WAR, with substantial falloff in the value of his baserunning, defense and most visibly his offense (.258/.342/.463). I have to presume he’ll get traded eventually but not for the talent haul the Pirates have been seeking (or the one they actually could have gotten back in 2021).

  2. 28-man roster challenge:

    Find room for Ozzie Albies, Orlando Arcia, Ian Anderson, Mike Soroka and Darren O’Day in September without DFA’ing players owed $ in 2023.

  3. @2 I’ll play

    D’Arnaud, Olson, Grissom, Dansby, Riley, Ronald, Harris, Rosario, Grossman, Contreras + Albies, Arcia, Adrianza and (begrudgingly) Ozuna (to then be left off the play off team)

    Fried, Wright, Morton, Strider, Odorizzi, Jansen, Iglesias, Minter, Matzek, McHugh, Yates, Stephens, Anderson and Soroka

    I think everyone else has options and don’t need O’Day back

  4. Do we really need Arcia if both Albies and Grissom are with the club?

  5. @2 I agree that O’Day is not likely coming back. Finding a space for four guys is not all that hard if you go with 28. Only need to eliminate two and Lee and Heredia both have an option. That being said, it leaves few lefty relievers and defensive OFs and no 3rd catcher. I think there has to be some thought of keeping Lee and letting Stephens go or keeping Soroka down until 2023.

    @3 You have seven starters there. A couple will need to be used in relief at times. If you bring Anderson back, I think Odorizzi has to spend time in the pen.

    @4 Good point but I’d expand the question to ask which two do you keep – Arcia, Adrianza, Tromp? To me, that comes down to which of Arcia or Adrianza covers the OF better.

  6. Yeah, I’d say trick question. You don’t need to find room for Arcia. O’Day’s rehab is gonna be up and so you’re gonna have to figure out something with him, but that something doesn’t necessarily have to be putting him on the major league roster.

  7. @4&6
    Braves extended Arcia (and has a 2024 option) and with SS not being answered for 2023, I can’t see Arcia going anywhere.

    Also, O’Day might not be needed now, but he could be should a significant injury to a RHP occur. I think he’ll also be here.

    IMO, the exercise doesn’t have a solution and one, maybe 2, guys that could prove valuable, get left off. If we’re leaving off one of Arcia or Adrianza, my $ is Adrianza b/c he’s not owed $ in 2023 and he provides less value, especially if both Albies and Grissom are available.

    Ozuna is the black hole was essentially my point. Everything fits if he just gets booted out of town.

    C (3): d’Arnaud, Willy, Tromp
    1B (1): Olson
    2B (3): Albies, Arcia, Grissom
    SS (2): Dansby, Adrianza
    3B (1): Riley
    LF (2): Grossman, Rosario
    CF (1): Harris
    RF (1): Acuña
    SP (5): Morton, Fried, Stryder, Wright, Odorizzi
    RP (9): Minter, Matzek, Lee, Stephens, McHugh, O’Day, Yates, Iglesias, Jansen

    It’s hard to remove anyone from the pitching group, but O’Day is probably the first in the pecking order should Soroka get the call, followed by Odorizzi. Stephens could also be DFA’d, although I think that would be an unwise move and he’s been really strong in his role this year. And while I haven’t done the research, I’m guessing equality is the same with a 28-man roster, with 14 pitchers and 14 position players.

    Other guesses: Braves are going to want to cycle some young pitchers in and out for September and there aren’t many players that can be optioned so look for them to manipulate IL stints. Players I’d expect to see pitching in September in some capacity are Ian, Tarnok, and Muller.

  8. Adrianza is an easy cut. But why not at least put Arcia on waivers?

  9. @8

    I don’t think revocable waivers are a thing anymore. To put him on waivers, I believe we’d have to designate him for assignment. It’s not entirely clear that he’s gonna make it back from his injury in time for any of this to matter anyway, though.

  10. Hard to beat a Lumineers concert and a Braves win. Braves don’t let me down. I will watch you later.

  11. Arcia is not a bad bench option. I would keep him over Heredia.

    I also don’t think O’Day is worth making room for.

  12. Heredia made sense as a defensive replacement for Duvall in CF. Not so much for Harris.

    He must be a really nice guy.

    @12 O’Day is a glorified coach a la Tomlin. I can see him staying on the IL all year and just hanging out in the ‘pen.

  13. I wouldn’t be that surprised if one or more AAA starters is added to the bullpen in September. Lee seems like the first one out. Odorizzi and Stephens are also on the bubble, one would think. We will definitely carry 3 catchers so that Contreras can bat every day. Heredia and Arcia will have no place to play unless something bad happens to a regular.

    Food for thought – if Albies and Duval had remained healthy, we might be out of the playoffs. Harris and Grissom have been the best players on the team late-summer.

  14. @14 Harris came up before Duvall was injured. The likely result of a healthy Duvall would be no Grossman. A healthy Albies would have been no impediment to the playoffs.

    @7 You are seriously underselling Anderson. Anderson to the rotation and Odorizzi to the pen instead of having O’Day. O’Day could be DFA’d and re-signed to a minor league contract and Arcia could be pushed to the 60-day IL. For me, Arcia and Adrianza are two sides of the same coin. The primary difference is Adrianza is a switch hitter. But O’Day on a minor league contract and Arcia on the 60-day IL would provide that extra depth for an unexpected injury or delay in rehab.

    I think Ozzie and Ian are the key pieces to bring back when the time comes and the rest is just rearranging deck chairs. Note that Soroka has options.

  15. @14 Out of the playoffs is a bit of a stretch. But we wouldn’t be within sniffing distance of the division, that’s for sure.

  16. Riley … 17 for 84 since signing big contract .. what is his issue .. relaxing cause of money ..or it put more pressure on him cause he is making more money ???

  17. Can you believe these kids?! Vaughn Grissom and Michael Harris… unbelievable!

  18. @18 If this is performance art trolling, then kudos for keeping the bit going way longer than anyone cares. If it actually represents your genuine feelings, well, the less said the better.

  19. Wow, Vaughn Grissom might be doing better than Juan Soto did when he was called up.
    You naysayers were right, we shouldn’t expect him to keep hitting .400
    We should expect .500

  20. Maddux-esque tonight.

    I believe I recall a 1 hr 59 min, CG gem from Mad Dog.

    Not too far off the pace tonight Max. Nice – – and great adjustment by the offense.

  21. Great game and win. Love the efficient 2 hr 15 min game time.

    Let’s go Yankees, and get this deficit trimmed to two games.

  22. Great win and thanks to my on and off insomnia, I even caught the last two innings.
    Great game for Betty over in Tampa: 2-4 with a HR and 3RBIs and 1.0 IP with a K. Good for him.
    @Camargo Cult, your wish for a comfortable game was heard.

  23. 33 Time will prove that you speak in jest.
    But he is a joy to watch.
    Great concert and game.
    Sweep please.

  24. I know that to some extent this happens every year, and this is part of what makes baseball so magical, but I just personally can’t think of another case of three rookies like Strider, Harris, and Grissom being unexpectedly pressed into action and immediately performing so extraordinarily.

    Obviously, the 2005 Baby Braves are the best comparison, but to be bluntly honest, most of the Baby Braves performed more like effective role players than present or future stars, obviously with the exceptions of Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann.

    (McCann’s OPS was .745, which was mighty impressive for a 21-year old catcher; for comparison, William Contreras was 21 during his rookie campaign last year, and he OPS’ed .701. Both Contreras and McCann immediately became All-Stars in their sophomore campaigns.)

    But the rest of the guys more more like also-rans — Wilson Betemit and Kelly Johnson looked like future starters, but they were more or less average in their first go-around; Ryan Langerhans and Pete Orr looked like future utility guys; Macay McBride and Blaine Boyer looked like future pen arms; Kyle Davies and Andy Marte were hot prospects but they flopped in their first look at the majors and never turned it around.

    But Strider and Harris have been absolute studs for two months, among the better players in the league from the moment they touched down, and I don’t know what to say about Vaughn Grissom’s first two weeks other than to say that I’m not sure I’ve seen anything on the baseball field that he doesn’t do well, and he’s probably going to be lacing up his cleats somewhere for the next 15 years.

    This is more like the greatest rookie classes we’ve seen: in 1990, Greg Olson, Dave Justice, Mark Lemke, Steve Avery; 1994, Klesko and Javy (and should have included Chipper); 1996, Andruw Jones and Jermaine Dye (and Jason Schmidt, long before becoming an ace).

    But those guys were, for the most part, lionized as the future of the organization before their callups. These guys were called up early, due to injuries. Then they just grabbed the brass ring.

    I’m having trouble thinking of a similar situation. Ububba, tfloyd, cliff, JonathanF — do you guys remember anything like this?

  25. No, Mr. Remington. I would say you may be a little underselling the 2005 Baby Braves, though. Either of Harris or Grissom could easily do a partial Francoeur (I don’t think either is as prone to swing and miss at breaking stuff, but “small sample size”). Also, pitchers are frequently an injury away. No way that group makes the postseason without all of the rookie help.

    The 1990 group’s impact on the franchise (along with a lot of other playersup in 88 and 89 like Smoltz, Glavine, Gant) was greater in the sense of taking a moribund (fo dollar word) franchise and turning it into a many year champion.

    But I think the thing with these 3 is that, so far, they have EXCELLED. They haven’t just helped the team get by, they have accelerated it into another dimension. Since the Harris callup Braves are playing close to .750. All 3 are accumulating WAR at breakneck speed.

  26. Harris and Grissom had a combined 65 games above A ball, so there’s that. Strider had 64 innings pitched.

  27. @36, that’s the exact distinction that occurs to me. The 2005 rookie class was unbelievable in terms of its size. But these guys haven’t just shown up, they have been the stars of the club. Strider’s second on the team in pitching WAR, behind only Max Fried (4.5 to 3.3), and Fried has thrown 50% more innings. Harris is third on the team in position player WAR, behind Swanson and Riley (they’re at 5.1 and 4.5, and he’s at 3.2), and they have approximately 80% more plate appearances than he does. If you prorate by playing time, Strider and Harris have arguably been the two best players on the team. (And Grissom’s been worth 1.2 wins in 14 games, which is equally insane.)

    Obviously, what happens from here on out is anybody’s guess, and this is a hard game. They’ll take their lumps, they’ll slump and struggle, and it won’t always look this easy. But still, for me, what they’ve done so far is getting close to Andruw hitting two homers in the World Series kind of territory. What in the world can’t these kids do?

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