Starting at 2:05 EST, the Braves will begin a day-night doubleheader in Philadelphia. It is the first doubleheader of the season for Atlanta and will make up a previously postponed game because of weather. The development gave me reason to investigate how the Braves have performed in recent doubleheaders. I should add that today’s games and most, if not all, of the doubleheaders the Braves have played in recent history cannot be classified as true doubleheaders. If you empty out the stadium, it’s not a real double dip. You’re merely playing two single games in the same day. But I digress.
Last season, the Braves played three doubleheaders. The first came in Denver during the Braves’ only trip to Colorado. In the opener, the Braves and Rockies completed their scoring by the fourth inning and the Braves sneaked passed 4-3. The night-cap saw the Braves crush the Rockies. They built a 6-1 lead before adding a four-spot in the ninth to turn it into a complete rout on way to a 10-2 win. The Braves counted on their usual starters with Mike Minor and Julio Teheran because the postponement came only a day before. Typically, that is not the case and usually, like today, the starter for one of the games is either coming out of the pen or from the minors. The other two doubleheaders were a little more planned, but had much less success. On June 18th, they dropped two to the Mets, getting outscored 10-4, and on September 17th, they lost two in Washington with the first game including a walk-off against Craig Kimbrel.
The Braves played the Nats in Washington for another doubleheader in 2012. On July 21st, they split a pair against the first-place Nats with Ben Sheets throwing six shutout innings in the opener. That allows me to use my Sheets tag for the first time since 2012. The split with the Nats was the only doubleheader of the year.
2011 quickly saw the Braves play a pair at home against the Mets on April 16th. They allowed two runs in the opener and none in the second game, rolling to a sweep behind the arms of Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens. On May 4th, they again played a doubleheader with the Brewers and absolutely rolled with eight runs in both games to get above .500. They would sweep their third doubleheader of the season on September 8th, this time in New York against the Mets. Making up a postponed game on a shared off-day, the Braves had one of their few bright moments of that September collapse and Teheran picked up his first major league win in the night cap.
In Bobby Cox‘s final two seasons, the Braves would play no doubleheaders. In fact, you have to skip to 2008 for the final doubleheaders of Cox’s reign. The Braves played a pair in slightly more than a week that May. In a nine day span, the Braves played ten games (and still had an off day worked in). On May 12th, they split a pair in Pittsburgh with Tim Hudson winning 8-1 in the night cap and on May 20th, they swept the Mets with Tom Glavine and Jorge Campillo getting the starts. Later that season, they dropped a pair in Chicago with Charlie Morton and Campillo starting the two games where the Cubs combined to score 18 runs. Not done, the Braves locked up with the Mets yet again and split a pair of games in Flushing.
The Braves would play a road twin billing with the Boston Red Sox on May 19th to jam a pair of games into a quick series. It was an uneven day where Anthony Lerew would get hammered in the opener and the Braves would roll 14-0 behind John Smoltz in the second game. A few weeks later, they again split a doubleheader, this time with the Marlins on June 5th with Smoltz losing the night cap 5-1.
In 2006, the Braves matched up with the Diamondbacks at home and managed to lose both games on June 3rd as part of a four-game sweep. Smoltz lost the opener and John Thomson had a poor outing in the second game. The Braves fell to .500 that day and under .500 when the D’Backs completed the sweep the following day. They would never sniff .500 again that season. Atlanta would have a weird few weeks in early September where they played back-to-back doubleheaders in Philly and split all four games. Starters included Oscar Villarreal, Kyle Davies, Hudson (who gave up six runs), and Lance Cormier. It’s actually amazing they split the four games. Not done with doubleheaders, Atlanta played another one in New York on September 6th and the Mets won both with the Braves only scoring one run. Still not done, they met the Phillies for yet another doubleheader, this time at home on September 13th and dropped both games.
So, since 2006, the Braves have played 19 doubleheaders, or an average of between two-and-three doubleheaders a season and in two of those years, they played none. They have swept five of the twin billings while being swept seven times. Seven other times, they split the doubleheader. This actually holds true, as a paper by Michael Goodman pointed out double headers are swept more times than they are not, especially in recent history. Our natural inclination would state otherwise, but the facts are the facts. Since the start of 2013, 24 of 36 double headers have been sweeps. It’s also more likely that the home team gets the sweep so that doesn’t benefit the Braves. However, it’s the Phillies. They like to lose.