In a battle of which bullpen could be worse on any given day, the Braves outlasted the Cubs to win 6-4 on Wednesday night. That's somewhat of a miracle given that the Braves bullpen is still statistically one of the bottom five bullpens in baseball. Fortunately the Cubs are second to dead last in bullpen. That's a pretty low bar to clear if we're being emotionally honest with each other, and I like to think after all these years we've developed that kind of trust and connection.
Julio Teheran started the game, gave up 1 earned in five innings, but didn't get a decision. Frankly, Julio deserved worse because again there were runners all over the place. Julio gave up 6 hits and 3 walks in those 5 innings, which is a WHIP (walks+hits per inning pitched) of 1.80 for the game. A WHIP above 1.30 is decent, and anything above 1.50 for a season will likely get you shelled long term. In 2 games, Julio is sitting right on 1.50, so just because he had a good outing doesn't mean that I'm not ready to ship him off into retirement still. He's a disaster constantly waiting to happen.
Jon Lester for the Cubs had a decent day on the mound with 6 innings and 2 earned, but he also gave up 6 hits and 3 walks. That was sort of the theme of the day for the Cubs, they walked way too many batters and eventually it cost them.
Cue the 8th inning, and the Braves are down 4-2 with time to rally getting short. Steven Cishek is in to pitch for the Cubs. I couldn't remember why he seemed familiar so I had to look him up today. Turns out he was the Marlins closer back in the 2013-2014 seasons. There's likely a reason I wouldn't recall that off the top of my head. First, in 2013 the Braves won the division and the Marlins lost 100 games, so I probably didn't get to see Cishek close out many of them. Second in 2014, that was the final year of Frank Wren's time as GM because of the BJ Upton/Dan Uggla debacle and I think I blacked out that season in a fit of rage.
Anyway it's the 8th inning and Cishek comes in to face Freeman, and walks him. He then faces Acuna, and walks him too. In a bold strategy (not really), facing Markakis who is hitting a robust .211 so far on the season, he walks him as well. So with the bases loaded, the Cubs manager finally comes back from the bathroom or wherever he was (because he wasn't paying attention for the first two batters) and puts in another pitcher.
Enter Johan Camargo. He smashes a double into right center, and that clears the bases, making it 5-4 Braves. After another pitching change, Flowers gets a hit that moves Camargo to 3rd, and Dansby plates Camargo with a sac fly. In one inning, the Braves plate 4 runs, 3 of the runners getting on base via the walk.
Now the Cubs misfortune is our gain, so I'm thrilled the Braves pulled this game out. Again though, let's be realistic about how the Braves are winning. They are punishing a VERY bad Cubs pitching staff at home. As good as the Phillies are, the Cubs are that bad right now. The truth of what the Braves truly are is somewhere in the middle. We look like a team with above average offense and very suspect pitching.
If the pitching continues to improve, we're all going to be smiling at year end. I think that the front office is relying on this being a season to see which prospects are going to turn into starters, and which ones are heading to the pen. However, if there's anybody over the age of 30 getting regular starts late in 2019, I'll be pretty shocked.