Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Game 1: Braves v Mets 5/2/16

I went to Starbucks in the afternoon, and by the time I walked in the door in the bottom of the first inning, it was 4-0 Mets. Turns out they hit 3 homers off Foltynewicz in the span of four batters. I've contacted my sabermetrics friends and they assure me that's bad.

This was the worst of all scenarios for Folty. He was supposed to replace Bud Norris as the starter in this spot, yet he couldn't even got a full 4 innings, and Bud had to come into the game and replace him. Oh and Bud pitched 2.1 innings of shutout baseball with no hits. It's maddening. I'm not sure if the front office or management team is dumb enough to draw a conclusion from that, but I seriously hope not. Because Bud isn't good and he isn't an answer.

I'm not sure if Folty is an answer, but I'm not drawing conclusions from one game where he got shelled early. What's funny to me is after the 1st inning, nobody did anything offensively until the Braves got a garbage run in the 9th to bust up the shutout. It was one of the most boring games I've seen out of this team in a while. And it came at the hands of 40-something Bartolo Colon and his one fat pitch of doom. I joked that if that guy hasn't had a Golden Corral style chocolate fountain installed in the clubhouse, he needs to renegotiate his contract.

Aybar is still playing all the time which is starting to drive me insane. He's one of the worst hitters in the league, but he managed to get an RBI hit in the 9th when the game was completely out of reach. Way to go, jerk store. Why not try to do that when it matters? That would be nice instead of rolling his sorry .178 average out there every day, for reasons I can't understand.

Also the Braves brought up a bunch of guys for this game: Reid BrigNac, Chase d'Arnaud, and Matt Tuiasosopo. IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR GUYS NAMED JAKE SMITH? DEAR LORD THE SPELLING! THINK OF THE CHILDREN AND THE BLOGGERS!

They sent down John Gant and Jace Peterson, plus they DFA'd Drew Stubbs. None of that is really going to matter with this team until we stop playing AJ Pierzynski and Eric Aybar on a daily basis. The offense with them in the middle of it is like slapping tar on the wheels of a Ford Fiesta. It's a crappy car anyway, but you just slowed it down to the point of irrelevance.

My only hope and solace is that by the time this team gets back in town, Fredi may get fired, and this long schedule nightmare will be over. We'll finally get some teams that aren't in the top 2 of their divisions. Maybe then we can put some of this unpleasantness behind us and watch the young kids get their shot.



Monday, May 2, 2016

Series Preview: Braves v Mets May 2-4, 2016

I feel like we just played the Mets. Oh, that's because we just played the Mets a week ago at home. Good call scheduling guys at the MLB. Way to shake it up early. Even better when the Mets swept us at the Ted and we looked like idiots.

But today dawns a new day and we're coming off a win in Chicago. Those kind of things can propel us to a possible winning streak! A streak is TWO. We haven't had that in a while. Eleven games really. But who's counting? On to the matchups!

Game 1 - Foltynewicz v. Colon
Game 2 - Wisler v. Harvey
Game 3 - Chacin v. Matz

HOORAY, BUD NORRIS FINALLY GOT DEMOTED! What? I'm happy about that, because he sucked as a starter. He's still on the team for some reason so I'm sure Fredi will find a way to have him crap up the bullpen, but I'll settle for having Folty get the call up. Plus, I had to remember how to spell Foltynewicz, which is always be a fun exercise. Tonight's game is a must-see TV to witness if Folty can bring it, and I'll never miss a chance to watch National Treasure 40-something-year-old Bartolo Colon throw his one pitch and swing his fat bat like he's in 6th grade. The man is awesome, even if he plays for the Mets.

Game 2 is the dog. I don't really trust Wisler yet, and Matt Harvey hasn't lost a home game against the Braves since...man I'll have to look it up. <Shuffles some internet papers.> Yeah, it's August 10th, 2012. Granted, he didn't actually pitch many home games against the Braves in much of that time, so it's not a hugely telling stat, but Harvey is unquestionably better at home than away. This year his ERA is 1.75 points lower at home, and over the last 3 years it was 2.02, a full point better than his away average. Oh and the combined Braves lineup has an OPS of .549 against Harvey sooooo GOOD LUCK Wisler! Don't give up any runs or you lose.

Game 3 might be the rubber game if Folty can pull off a win. Chacin has been solid with the Braves going 2-2 in his starts, and if you consider the fact the team only has 6 wins, that's a fairly impressive percentage. Steven Matz is on an absolute tear right now. He's given up only 2 runs in his last 3 starts, won all three of those games, including an absolute drubbing of Atlanta in that run 8-2. He's terrifying right now, and the pitches he throws give the Braves fits. If they can win this game it will be nothing short of miraculous on the road.

CPA Predictions:

The CPA went 1-1 on the Cubs series since one of the games was rained out. That's 13-9 now on the season. What's the prediction for this week? In the words of Clubber Lang...PAIN!

Game 1 - Mets by 2
Game 2 - Mets by 4
Game 3 - Mets by 4

Yeah, not pretty. But it was wrong on at least one of the games so far each series so maybe they avoid a sweep this time.


Weekend Recap: Braves v Cubs April 29 - May 1, 2016

By some miracle, the Braves dodged a bullet and split this series after the Saturday game was cancelled by rain. That's actually a huge benefit for us, because I guarantee this team will be completely different by the time they have to make up that game post-All-Star break. Preferably with younger, better talent that's been seasoned in the minor leagues.

The Friday game was a mess by the end. Not really at the beginning though, as Aaron Blair looked solid through his 6 innings of starting work. 2 Hits, 3 walks, and 1 run? That's pretty sparkling for a guy facing some of the hottest hitters in the league right now. I don't love the walks, but when the result is good I'm not going to complain. He's a bright spot in the young talent brigade I hope to see more of soon.

But the bullpen happened late in that game, and yadda-yadda-yadda we ended up losing by 5. You may not be able to yadda-yadda sex, but you sure as heck can yadda-yadda five runs. That's right, it was a tie game in the 8th, then suddenly it wasn't. And a grand slam later it REALLY wasn't. Why did all this happen? Because Fredi Gonzalez once again decided to bring in EOF into a game that was tied. Because Fredi used his lefty-lefty logic to pitch EOF against the Cubs Rizzo, the absolute best hitter on their team. And Rizzo of course made them pay with an RBI single. Yadda-yadda, Fredi's not long for this team.

You know what? I've beaten how Fredi mismanages this thing to death, so there's no real point anymore. Ken Rosenthal, who is about as respected a national writer as there is in baseball, came out and flat said that Fredi Gonzalez is a dead man walking. He doesn't even expect Fredi to still be the manager when the Braves come back from the road trip on Friday. I hope he's right, because I think we're all sick and and tired of lame duck lineups and ridiculous bullpen decisions. Frankly, I'm tired of the argument when people want to say Fredi's NOT to blame for certain decisions, but they still believe he's not a good manager. If he's not good, he needs to go and we need to give somebody else their shot.

Game 2 on Sunday was actually much better. Not just because the Braves won, but because Julio Teheran actually had a great back-to-back game, plus it was on the road. Julio was masterful as he went for 7 innings with 2 hits, 0 runs, and 9 Ks. It's probably the best road game I've seen out of him in years. It also gives me hope because mentally I was wondering if Julio could ever find that some stride and dominance he had three years ago. These two games give me that hope, but I'm also aware that Julio is fickle. There could be a 5 run affair waiting around any corner.

The bullpen screwed this game up too, but not enough to cost the Braves a win. The Braves really made the Cubs pay for their error in the 6th as they had the bases loaded and one out, when a tailor made double play ball was hit to the Cubs SS. However, he booted it, a run scored, and all hands were safe. Then the Braves hit into ANOTHER double play, but Garcia avoided the tag long enough to let Markakis score. Basically, the Cubs should have gotten out of the inning still tied, but they were instead down 3-1.

That mattered because Jim Johnson botched the 8th inning, giving up 2 runs, and forcing Fredi to go to Vizcaino early. That move I actually applaud, because the game was on the line there. Fredi should have done it in the 8th inning of the prior game. Vizzy put out the fire in the 8th, but then self-destructed in the 9th when he walked Zobrist, then threw the ball by Freddie on a pickoff move that landed Zobrist on 3rd. A single brought him home and tied the game.

But luckily for the Braves, Markakis can still get make timely contact when the game is on the line. His sacrifice fly in the 10th to bring home Castro won the game. Grilli came in for the save in the 10th and gave up a walk but no hits to shut her down.

Next up? The Mets in New York City. The scheduling department did us ZERO favors early on.

Braves lose 6-1
Braves won 4-3 in extras


Friday, April 29, 2016

Series Preview: Braves v Cubs April 29 - May1, 2016

Let's do this quick since these are all day games, and I'm under the gun to get to the lake this weekend. No recaps until Sunday when I do them all at once. I'm gonna be relaxing on a dock.

Game 1 - Blair v. Lester
Game 2 - Teheran v. Lackey
Game 3 - Wisler v. Hammel

If we get the Aaron Blair we saw in his 3-run debut, even though that ended in a loss, I'm okay with it. Same thing with the Julio I saw in the last effort where he lost in a 1-0 effort. When you get those types of performances, you give yourself a chance to win if the offense is remotely functional. It's the 4+ run efforts that bury you as a team, and that's what buried Wisler in his last game. I'm hoping he can bounce back in his anchor position of the day games against the Cubs.

The Cubs are hot, I can't lie about that. 16-5 on the year, second in the league in scoring, 8th in homers, 5th in OPS, 2nd in team ERA. They are doing almost everything right, and it's showing up in the win column.

Here's the good news. The Braves dodge Jake Arrieta who is unbeatable right now. Here's the bad news. Jason Hammel has an ERA of 0.75 and hasn't lost a game, and Lester has a 1.98 ERA and is absolutely dealing. The getable guy in this series is Lackey with a 4.97 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP as he takes on Julio in the second game.

But the thing about that game is Julio has been bad on the road historically. In Washington he gave up 6 runs in 7 innings. Over the last 3 years, Julio's ERA jumps from 2.66 at home to 4.13 on the road. He's not great sleeping in hotels, I guess. Meanwhile, Lackey is coming off a shelling by Cincinnati where he gave up 6 runs, so he'll likely be looking to right the ship against a Braves lineup that isn't scoring well. He'll also try to dodge Nick Markakis who has raked against him in his career at an .871 OPS in 68 ABs.

The other two games? Good luck. Lester's given up exactly 1 homer to the Braves lineup in 218 ABs. That was of course to Freddie Freeman. AJ has had some success against Lester, as has Nick, but that's a tough row to hoe for the rest of the lineup. Blair will have to be really on his game to keep it close in the friendly confines of Wrigley. Better hope the wind is blowing IN, not OUT.

Wisler might have a shot against Hammel if you believe Hammel is due for an implosion. He's a career 4.43 ERA guy, so having him at sub-1.00 right now is WAY out over his skis. That won't last forever. And the Braves are the perfect team to give it to him. SIX starters for the Braves have an OPS over .900 against Hammel, so go get him boys!

CPA Predictions:

CPA split the 4-gamer with the Sox by going 2-2. It's now 12-8 on the year.

Game 1 - Cubs by 3
Game 2 - Cubs by 1
Game 3 - Cubs by 3

Clean sweep according to the CPA. Can't really blame it. Maybe we catch a break and steal one.


Game 4: Braves v Red Sox 4/28/16

We won! Light the signal fires and tell them all the way along the Great Wall of Braves Country, the Braves are victorious! Let there be a grand clubhouse feast! Bring me the finest meats and cheeses in all the surrounding baronies!

OK with that out of the way, I had a feeling we might win last night with Chacin on the mound. Call me crazy, but he's one of the few starters I trust out there. He wasn't stellar as he only went for 5 IP with 2 earned runs, but that's better than we're getting from most of our guys out there lately. What was stellar was the bullpen going 4 IP of scoreless ball, which almost NEVER happens. EOF was even good out there for an inning. Do you believe in miracles? YES!

Remember my two rules for a Braves victory. Good bullpen and good Freddie Freeman. Guess what we got in this game? Both. Freeman went 3-4 with a walk, keeping the line moving, but he wasn't the hero. The hero was Nick Markakis with his 4 hits and 3 RBIs. It was actually the bottom of the order that did the run scoring with Jace Peterson getting 3 walks and 2 runs, Aybar getting a hit and 2 runs, and Mallex Smith getting 3 hits, a run, and 2 RBIs.

Great hitting by the bottom of the order is a cool thing to see, especially when it's from guys that had really been on the shnide. They took advantage of a struggling Clay Buchholz in Boston, as he gave up 8 hits, 5 runs, and 4 walks.

Still, there were defensive mistakes. The Braves committed 2 errors in the game, one by Freeman and the other by AJ Pierzynski. Seriously, I'm begging for somebody to realize that AJ is no longer able to make 60% of the starts because of his defense. He's awful out there. Last night he had TWO passed balls and he dropped an easy pop fly in foul ground. Flowers ain't a lot better, but we need to find a decent catcher soon. I would kill for a David Ross right now, and he's planning on retiring this year. Go find somebody that can catch, Braves.

Still, we won. That puts the streak at one win. I'll take it.

Braves win 5-2.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Game 2-3: Braves v Red Sox April 26-27, 2016

Bud Norris is done. If the Braves let him make his next scheduled start, they are fools. Bud didn't even make it through 2 innings last night on his way to giving up 6 runs with a grand slam. His ERA is nearing 9.00. Repeat, he is done. I don't want to see him anymore. Cut him, trade him, send him out into the ocean with a canoe and a paddle. I don't care. He has to go.

There are too many young pitchers with talent for this team to put up with a Bud Norris ruining games. Mainly, there's Mike Foltynewicz who should get the next start in place of Bud if the Braves can swing it. And they should do everything in their power to make that happen.

What can I say about a team that got beat in these last two games 20-8? Hey at least we scored 8? The good news is that the homerless streak is dead thanks to Freddie Freeman so we don't have to talk about that anymore. AJ Pierzynski got his 2,000th hit of his career, so that's nice. Drew Stubbs also got a couple of starts in these games and went 3/7 with 2 runs and a walk. That's great to see from somebody in the lineup.

And the good news ends there. Wisler got torched for 5 in his start of game 2. At the end of game 2, if you were watching it, you saw Ryan Weber get lit up like the grill he's named after. Weber gave up 5 runs in 2 innings of work, and it was a doubles parade with 2 outs as we all wondered if the 9th inning would ever stop. It's like that scene from the Simpsons where Krusty attacks the Hamburgler and just keeps kicking him while one of the kids cries, "Stop! Stop! He's already dead!" This current version of the Braves are already dead, we just have to watch the corpse jangle about before it gets resurrected by the young talent hanging out in the minor leagues. Too morbid? We gave up 20 runs in 2 days. I'm not exactly brimming with pride right now.

Game 3 wasn't any better even though we were sort of scoring runs, but Bud Norris dug such a hole that it was 6-1 before the Braves could bat in the 3rd. The Braves struck out 24 times in these two games. You only get 27 outs, so you can do the math on that one. I can guarantee you one thing, no matter where you fall on the "Do Strikeouts Matter" debate, everyone agrees that at a certain point if you're striking out THAT much it's bad. Especially when you have no power.

Did I mention I want Bud Norris gone? Good, why is he still on the team as I'm writing this? Let me know when he's been cut immediately.

Braves set a record for the most losses in April with 17. Get ready because we're going to break a lot more records for terrible this season the way this is going. The cavalry can't get here soon enough.

Braves lose 11-4
Braves lose 9-4

God have mercy on us all.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Game 1: Braves v Red Sox 4/25/16

Julio Teheran pitched a gem last night and it didn't matter. Because the immutable rule of baseball is that you must actually score a run to win, and the Braves failed to scratch across a solitary point. It's one thing to lose a game when you don't pitch well or don't play defense. It's another thing to get shutout 1-0 like you're playing in the English Premiere League.

First, props need to go out to Julio as he went 7 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, and 8 Ks. I'll take that line from him any time he wants to show up. He'll go to the All-Star game with that line. We should win games with that line. But alas, this is a new year and we're finding new ways to lose.

Okay with that being said, let's focus on the moment in the game that made me absolutely lose my mind. I thought I'd been teleported to some dimension where there were no replay challenges, or at the very least where our manager has lost the ability to speak and ask for one. To set the stage, the Braves are down 1-0, it's the bottom of the 7th inning, Frenchy is on second and Freeman is on first. There's one out. A hit would score the tying run here.

So what happens? Fredi Gonzalez PH Drew Stubbs for Jace Peterson. Jace is a .250 hitter with RISP this year, and Stubbs is hitting .333, so I get that move. Jace hasn't been hitting well either, so I'm on board at this point. But Stubbs hits one to the second baseman, who bobbles the ball and then flips to second to get the close out. However, on further inspection Freddie actually hit the bag first, then came off the bag, then came back on it before he was tagged. The play should have been reviewed. But for some reason the Braves let it go, and Freddie was out. Runners at the corners and Mallex Smith coming up.

EXCEPT WAIT, Freddie Gonzalez pinch hit for Mallex with Eric Aybar. For those of you who don't remember who Aybar is, he hasn't had a hit since April 21st. He's hitting .136 at the time. Granted Mallex has been struggling as well, but you had other bench options. You had Kelly Johnson or Flowers at that point. Or you could have just rolled the dice with Mallex. But no, Fredi went with one of the worst hitters on the team with the game on the line. Guess why? Go ahead, guess. Because Mallex is a lefty, and Boston brought in a lefty reliever. So Fredi went with Aybar because he's a switch hitter. Yep, once again it's matchups. Insane matchups. Along with failing to challenge, it cost us the game.

Here's the terrible thing, Mallex is just as bad against lefties as Aybar. Mallex has a .067 average, Aybar has a .043 average this year. You know what Kelly Johnson is hitting off lefties? .400 in 2016. BUT KELLY IS A LEFTY CAN'T USE HIM THERE! I absolutely hate hate hate the way Fredi takes what hand you use over how good you are when making changes. I'm going to show up in the park and tell them I'm left-handed so I can pinch hit in the 8th inning.

Braves lose 1-0, they've lost 6 in a row again. I'm counting the days until Fredi Gonzalez is fired. I'm over it.