Welcome to this week’s quick Monday Recap. With just three games to review because of the All-Star Break, we won’t have to spend too much time on them. Want to point out a few things before we look back at the week that just concluded. We posted our Midseason Top 50 Prospects last week with contributors Ryan Cothran and Stephen Tolbert pitching in. Ryan’s been with WOW for awhile now, but Tolbert recently joined. He’s already posted two columns – one on the prospect of trading Ozzie Albies and the other on comparing Sean Newcomb and Rich Hill‘s respective spin rates on their curveballs. Both are worthy of your consideration.
And with that said, it’s on with the show.
July 10-13, Idle
|Jeff Morris – Follow on Twitter|
July 14, 4-3 WIN vs. Diamondbacks
Atlanta twice gave up single-run leads, but Freddie Freeman put the Braves ahead for good with a two-run single in the 8th. Ender Inciarte led off the inning with a single before Brandon Phillips doubled to set the stage for Freeman’s heroics. Freeman also broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with a deep home run. Atlanta got their other run in the first when Inciarte doubled and came around later in the inning on a Matt Kemp two-out single. R.A. Dickey continued his solid work, throwing six innings and allowing just one on eight hits and two walks. He also struck out four. Sam Freeman allowed a home run to Paul Goldschmidt while Jose Ramirez wasn’t helped by a bad thow by Tyler Flowers on a stolen base attempt. His throw went into center field and allowed a runner to reach third. A wild pitch briefly put the D’Backs on top. Jim Johnson worked a perfect ninth with a strikeout of Goldschmidt to end the game.
July 15, 8-5 WIN vs. Diamondbacks
The Braves used 14 hits and two home runs from each of their last two opening day second basemen to score eight runs and win Saturday’s night affair. Phillips got the Braves on the board with a game-tying home run in the third, his eighth. He then put the Braves on top in the fifth with a RBI double. The lead was short lived as a pair of runs, charged to Mike Foltynewicz put Arizona ahead in the sixth. The Braves would fight back in the bottom half of the inning. With old friend Randall Delgado on the mound, Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis led off the inning with singles. Delgado got the next two, but Dansby Swanson worked a walk. Lane Adams followed with a bases-clearing pinch-hit double. Andrew Chafin replaced Delgado and his first pitch was hit by Ender Inciarte for a RBI single to score Adams and put the Braves up 6-3. Kurt Suzuki picked up a RBI in the 7th and after the Diamondbacks scored twice in the 8th to pull closer, Jace Peterson led off the 8th with a pinch-hit home run that still hasn’t landed. Johnson cruised through the ninth for another save. It was an average night for Folty, who struggled with his control over his 5.1 innings.
July 16, 7-1 WIN vs. Diamondbacks
Atlanta gets to .500 with an efficient offensive attack. They would leave just four runners on base while scoring seven runs. In the third, Matt Kemp bashed a three-run bomb and Matt Adams smacked his 15th later in the frame. That was the game-changing frame for the Braves, who scored in each of the first four innings. Brandon Phillips doubled three times and drove in tow runs while Ender Inciarte singled twice. Jaime Garcia pitched well, allowing just one run in seven innings. He scattered four singles, walked three, and struck out seven. Luke Jackson and Akeel Morris worked perfect frames with Morris striking out a pair. The sweep at home was the Braves’ first sweep at SunTrust since the four-game set to open the park against the Padres in mid-April.
This week’s Record: 3-0
Season Record: 45-45, 2nd Place in the NL East, 9.5 GB
Minor League Week in Review
Gwinnett: 3-1…40-52, 2nd Place in the North, 9.5 GB
Mississippi: 2-5…6-17 (2nd Half), 5th Place in the Southern, 6 GB
Florida: 2-3…9-13 (2nd Half), 5th Place in the North, 4.5 GB
Rome: 1-4…8-12 (2nd Half), 6th Place in the Southern, 7.5 GB
Danville: 2-4…11-13, 3rd Place in the West, 7 GB
GCL: 3-3…9-9, 2nd Place in Northeast, 1.5 GB
DSL: 1-4…11-24, 7th Place in Northwest, 13 GB
Upcoming Schedule: The Braves stay at home for three more games with the Cubs coming for a visit for two nights games before a matinee on Wednesday. It’s the first time the Braves have faced the Cubs this season and they’ll return the favor at the end of August by visiting Wrigley. After Wednesday’s game, the Braves head on a cross-country trip to visit the Dodgers for four games to finish the week. The first three will be late night games for Braves fans while Sunday’s will be a mid-afternoon start at 4:10 EST.
Three Last Things
1) Buying Or Selling?
It’s hard not to have this debate. After sweeping Arizona, the Braves have reached .500 for the first time since early April. They are midway through a tough part of their schedule that included games with the Astros, Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, and a second series with Arizona in addition to the one that just completed. They’ve held their own so far, winning 5-of-9.
The Braves General Manager, John Coppolella, has been attached to Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, Justin Verlander, and Michael Fulmer. Atlanta is also said to have an interest in Jurickson Profar. What the Braves ultimately may do may be decided by July 26. At that point, the Braves will have finished a 10-game stretch against the Cubs, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks. If they are still at .500 or higher, the Braves might be an aggressive buyer. If they slip, they could sell.
Regardless, Braves fans universally agree about one thing – it feels good to care again.
2) Roster Issues
For the first time in a long time, the Braves might be sending down productive players because of a roster crunch. With Danny Santana and Sean Rodriguez likely to return tomorrow, Lane Adams might be sent back to Gwinnett. Adams has been one of the few guys able to come off the bench and get a pinch hit here-and-there for the Braves. His six pinch-hits not only lead the team, but count for a quarter of all of Atlanta’s pinch-hits this season. He’s also belted a homer and added a double. But with Santana fresh off a five-hit game on a rehab assignment and super utility player Rodriguez ready to contribute, Adams seems pushed out for now. Jace Peterson, who joined Adams and Santana as the only Braves to have a pinch-hit homerun this season on Sunday, will likely head down as well.
Further roster decisions will have to be made in regards to a pitcher. Dan Winkler began his rehab assignment a month ago and is only given 30 days before the Braves have to make a decision. He’s struck out nine over as many minor league innings, but also gave up eight runs. His rehab appears either halted, though. He hasn’t pitched in ten days.
Something similar happened to Chaz Roe. His rehab assignment was halted after the Braves designated him for assignment. It didn’t make much news, but on Thursday, he was outrighted to Gwinnett. I have seen reports that Winkler’s rehab received a rare 30-day extension. Over the coming days, we’ll see if that was accurate or if Winkler went through a similar fate as Roe. (Edit: According to Mark Bowman, it was accurate as the Braves have extended Winkler’s rehab 30 days. H/t to Dan Keetz for this.)
3) Early Defensive Metrics Unkind to FF3B
It takes a long time for defensive metrics to really even out to the point that they tell us anything valuable. Often, we don’t want to put too much importance in them without a career baseline to compare numbers to.
So…don’t take this seriously.
Freddie Freeman’s defensive metrics are HORRIBLE at third base! -89.3 UZR/10! Wow! He’s handled ten plays and committed an error. Of the three plays in his zone, he’s made two successful plays. In addition, Freeman is 9-of-10 on routine plays according to Inside Edge Fielding. He’s 0-for-2 on remote plays (expected rate is between 1 and 10%) To be fair, he hasn’t made a remote play at first base since 2014.
Well, what did you expect from a first baseman playing third base anyway? Of course, the Braves have also won a number of those games so they are getting exactly what they hoped for.