Monday, April 1, 2019

Braves get swept by Phillies, look to Home Opener against the Cubs

We lost. All of the games. If you read Braves twitter (and for your sanity you probably shouldn't) then you've seen the epic meltdown that occurred over the weekend. Fans are mad. They are mad at the ownership for not putting in more money, they are made at the GM for not making more moves, and they are mad in general that the bullpen looks like a complete disaster.

How bad was the weekend? Let's recap statistically shall we?

  • Offensively the Braves were okay. They averaged under 4 runs a game, which honestly in this day and age of baseball doesn't really cut it. The new mark for playoff teams is around 4.5 runs a game, and that's as of 2017-2018. If you look at last year there wasn't a single playoff team below 4.5 runs a game, and the two teams that made the World Series averaged nearly 5 or better a game. Offense is back in baseball after a long hiatus.
  • The Braves took a lot of walks, 16 total in 3 games, and they hit 3 homers in the series. That's a good sign of things to come if the Braves are putting a lot of people on base and averaging a home run a game or more. The 2 and 3 run homers are what change the dynamics of games.
  • Now for the bad - The Braves have the 28th ERA in the majors at 8.63, and a current FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 7.98, which is 29th in MLB. That's not just bad, that's getting beaten with a hickory stick by your grandmama bad.
  • The Braves bullpen has an ERA over 11.00, which is hilariously not dead last in the majors because the Nationals have an ERA over 13.00. The Phillies and Mets are just looking at both the Nats and the Braves and counting easy wins in their heads right now.
  • We're the only team in MLB with no wins right now. Everybody else won at least one game over the weekend except the Atlanta Braves. Granted this isn't anything to actually panic over yet, but saying we shouldn't feel bad is like telling a kid that just dropped his ice cream, "Hey don't worry it's empty calories anyway, you're better off."
So am I worried? Not really, because it's baseball and panicking over any 3 games before the All-Star break is pretty stupid historically. The Braves lost 4 straight games to open the season in 2012, and they finished with 94 wins and a Wild Card slot. Plus, the Phillies did a ton to upgrade their roster, and if you're not picking them to win the division this year I think you're mildly crazy. They have a murders row lineup where the 7th guy would likely be hitting 3-5 on any other team.

Heading into the home opener the Braves will face the Cubs. Here's the projected starters:

4/1 - Newcomb v. Hendricks
4/3 - Teheran v. Lester
4/4 - Fried v. Darvish

I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I'll be glued to the Fried-Darvish matchup on Thursday. That's the marquee one for the series I think for many Braves fans. Darvish is coming off a shellacking in Texas where he gave up 3 earned in 2.2 innings. Fried has had two shots out of the bullpen and given up absolutely nothing. 

I'm also interested to see which Sean Newcomb shows up. Good Sean is a killer. Bad Sean gives up 5 earned runs before you can figure out what the heck just happened. We saw a lot of both in 2018, and I'm hoping that fresh off Spring Training we'll get more good than bad.

Also for the lineup I'm interested to see how long it takes Ender and Nick Markakis to get going. Brian Snitker is going to put them in the lineup until they figure it out, because they are both proven veteran hitters. However, you'll get to hear a lot a keyboard warriors crying out for Acuna (who is slugging a grand .200 in the cleanup slot) to get the nod for the leadoff position. I'm all about putting the best guy in the best slot, because frankly I can't remember the last time the Braves had a veteran fixture at the top of the order for several years.

Let's remember as well that this ain't the Cubs of the World Series runs of yore. This Cubs team just got flattened on the road by the Texas Rangers. Both teams are carrying a grand total of 1 win into this new series. The Braves should treat this as a get-right series after a woeful Philly outing. Will the pitching be up to the task? That's what I'm waiting to find out as well.


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