Braves Add Another Familiar Face to Their Bench

Braves Add Another Familiar Face to Their Bench

Early during today’s Braves/Pirates game, news filtered out that Atlanta had made a trade with the Reds for the second time in less than 40 days. After trading Preston Tucker to the Reds in the Adam Duvall deal, the Braves reacquired Tucker for cash considerations. While Duvall has struggled with the Braves, the team has essentially surrendered Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims for him. Not too bad.

The timing of the deal was the strangest thing. Before September 1, Atlanta notably added Lucas Duda and Rene Rivera. By doing so before the end of August 31, Atlanta can use either player – but especially Duda – in the playoffs. Tucker, however, will be ineligible for the playoffs. You might wonder if the fact he was with the organization before August 31 plays a role. It does not. While getting the exact wording of the rule is a little harder than it needs to be, this summary from MLB.com goes a long way to describe the rule in the simplest of terms.

Players must be on the 40-man roster, the 60-day disabled list or the bereavement/family medical emergency list as of midnight ET on Aug. 31 to be eligible for their respective clubs’ postseason rosters. Consequently, players that are acquired via September trades or signed as free agents in September are ineligible for postseason play.

Despite Tucker’s previous run with the Braves, because he was not in the organization in any fashion as of August 31, he will not be eligible for the postseason roster.

So why this deal? Because the Braves still need to win a spot in the playoffs and Tucker can help them get there. While September trades are unusual, they do take place. For instance, in 1997, the Braves acquired catcher Greg Myers on September 5. A more notable September trade came in 1980 when the Rangers sent Sparky Lyle to the Phillies. Lyle pitched ten times after the trade to help the Phils overcome the Expos. He then sat and watched as the Phillies won the NLCS and World Series.

Back to Tucker, he did little during his short time with the Reds – 7-for-37 with a double, two homers, and nine K’s. The Braves, though, see Tucker in a similar light as their decision to bring back Lane Adams. Tucker, like Adams, fills a role and lengthens the bench. The Braves wanted Adams’ speed. They also want Tucker’s bat.

In 150 PA against right-hand pitching this year, Tucker is hitting .257/.320/.456. What is especially relevant is his ability as a pinch hitter – .250/.325/.472. His biggest issue is offspeed pitches this season – .200 wOBA. But he hits well off fastballs (.330 wOBA) and breaking balls (.380 wOBA). Basically, the kind of stuff you can expect from relievers. Even after rosters expanded, the Braves were still a little short on left-hand bats. Duda’s addition helped, but the next left-hand bat was either Ryan Flaherty or Rio Ruiz. Tucker’s a better option than either.

While the timing was a little weird, the addition was smart. The Braves will have to make yet another move to find room for Tucker. Earlier today, they placed Michael Reed on the 60-day DL for Flaherty. I imagine either Wes Parsons or Adam McCreery might be getting DFA’d unless they can find someone else with a bruised shin they can throw on the 60-day DL.

9:00 PM EST EDIT – Well, we’ve learned that Dustin Peterson has been designated for assignment in order to make room for Tucker. Peterson opened the year looking to wipe the bad taste out of his mouth that was 2017. A bit of a hot prospect entering spring training, he broke the hamate bone in his wrist. It cost him a lot of playing time and bothered him throughout the season. After a strong spring this year, he got off to a good start with Gwinnett. His OPS was sitting at .776 when he was brought to the majors in late May.

After two pinch-hit appearances (0-2), he returned to Gwinnett and hasn’t really wowed anyone since. If another team declines to take a flier on him, he’ll be Rule 5 eligible for a second consecutive season this winter. He’ll also have two option seasons remaining. Peterson turns 24 in eight days.

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With Michael Reed getting hurt (I felt that The Braves should have went with him as our 4th outfielder/right handed pinch hitting option off the bench back at The July 31st Trade Deadline..INSTEAD of trading for Adam Duval)….The Braves decided to take another flyer on Preston Tucker (only cost us ‘cash considerations’…isnt really taking up a roster spot/not taking playing time from someone else).

With that said, our bench really doesnt exactly ‘scare’ the opposition. Duval has simply SUCKED at the plate (swinging at pitches in his eyes…taking called strike threes on pitches down the middle). To replace Reed’s spot on the roster, Ryan “I SUCK” Flaherty comes back to Atlanta.

Other than Lucas Duda (whose a threat against righty pitching)…The Braves are vulnerable when it comes to our pinch hitting options. Come playoff time, I’d have a hard time feeling ‘confident’ with seeing Duval being one of the 25 players AA is counting on to help The Braves advance to The NLCS. Sure, Sims and Wisler will not be missed. I’m just lamenting the lack of contributions that we’re getting from Duval (who should be providing some production against lefty pitching).

I’d rather see Austin Riley called up to provide a power option from the right side of the plate when a pinch hitter is needed (it isnt like he’s going to lose playing time with The AAA Season ending next week)….than see Adam “I SUCK as much as Flaherty” Duval basically give away outs when called on to pinch hit.

Regardless of our lack of quality pinch hitting options, the past 2 days were CRUCIAL to The Braves Playoffs hopes! We’ve extended our lead from 2 to 4 games (with 26 games left).

If The Braves are going to make The Playoffs, they are going to have to EARN IT! While Philly has their own issues (bad defense/iffy bullpen/holes in their lineup)…they do play well at home AND they have A MUCH EASIER remaining schedule than The Braves do (plus, we have 7 games left with The Phillies in the last 10 games of the season..giving them an opportunity to close the gap head to head!). The one part of the schedule that favors The Braves…is the last week of the season…leading up to the last 3 games in Philly (The Braves have an off day on that last Monday, then play 3 games at The Mets before heading to Philly to end The Season…while Philly has to play 4 games IN COLORADO, with no off day, before hosting The Braves the last 3 games of the year).

This week will really TEST The Braves (we host Boston for 3 games..then go to Arizona for 4 games…while Philly plays at Miami for 3 games..then at The Mets for 3 more). While Philly tends to struggle on the road…this week presents an opportunity for them to rack up some wins against 2 BAD teams.

Regardless, this 4 game lead gives The Braves some breathing room to weather a potentially ‘rough’ upcoming week. I would like to point out that The Braves are not in line to face EITHER Chris Sale or David Price in The Boston series. Also, The September call-ups have allowed The Braves to really stack our bullpen (along with being able to go with a 6-man rotation WITHOUT having to sacrifice a bullpen piece) with some talented ‘swing and miss’ young arms…allowing Snitker to go with ‘righty-lefty’ matchups without having to face the prospect of ‘blowing your bullpen’ for days.

If Adrodys Vizcaino is able to come back in the next week or so (an effective Vizcaino)..along with Max Fried (for some reason, maybe AA is waiting for The AAA season to end before adding him to The MLB Roster)….Snitker could have two more potential bullpen pieces to choose from.

Lefty bullpen options:

1. Minter
2. Venters
3. Biddle
4. Sam Freeman
5. Kolby Allard (only in a blowout OR after we clinch, lol)

Righty bullpen options:

1. Brach
2. Winkler
3. Carle
4. Bryce Wilson
5. Kyle Wright
6. Luke Jackson

Once the AAA season ends, perhaps Max Fried, Luis Gohara and even Wes Parsons (only ‘break out’ and use in a similar fashion as Kolby Allard, lol) may be called up to provide more depth to the bullpen.

I feel that a number of the above relievers..are ‘auditioning’ for a spot on The Post Season Playoff Roster! Now is the time to GET HOT!

A bigger concern to me..is the lack of power the middle of the lineup is providing. I posted a few days ago that in a combined 402 at-bats from July 1st-August 31st….Freeman and Markakis have hit A COMBINED 10 homers (5 each). The 1st 2 days of September have not changed anything. While The Braves are getting good pitching….our offense has tended to either wait until the 8th inning to score…OR meekly given away games (our defense isnt exactly helping things with some STUPID errors lately).

Freddie and Markakis need to STEP UP (Acuna is basically CARRYING The Braves offense…from the leadoff spot of the order, lol). We’re going to have a tough time beating good teams….if our #3-#4 hitters arent a threat to hit homers!

Even with The Cubs recent hot streak…there are no ‘powerhouse’ National League teams! I know that The Braves were not even ‘considered’ a post season ‘threat’ prior to The 2018 Season beginning…however that is all IN THE PAST! Right now..it’s ANYONE’S GAME! The Braves have a decent chance to MAKE The World Series (and ANYTHING can happen in a 7 game series!)! Wouldnt it be IRONIC that a flawed Braves team (when compared to some of the powerhouses that we had during our 15 Division Titles in a row) WINS The 2018 World Series?

If Freeman and Markakis can start hitting with some power (Acuna IS A BEAST..having him hit leadoff/be a CONSTANT THREAT to give The Braves an early lead EVERY NIGHT OUT……puts A LOT OF PRESSURE on opposing pitchers!)…..with our pitching, we’ll be A SERIOUS THREAT to go DEEP in The Playoffs!

Several issues with yesterday’s 8-2 loss to The Red Sox yesterday:

1. With the score 3-2 Boston in the top of the 8th inning, Jesse Biddle was left in to face Ian Kinsler with the bases loaded and 2 outs (after a COSTLY error by Freddie Freeman). With A NUMBER of well rested right handed bullpen options…why did Snitker leave Biddle in to face Kinsler?

Why even call up the other guys like AA did, IF Snitker is just going to manage like he would if he was dealing with a 25 man roster and a tired bullpen?

I know that the old ‘tiresome’ MLB routine is to not have players make their MLB debut in a high leverage situation….however I felt that it would have been a great situation to bring in Kyle Wright to face the righty Kinsler! Wright can crank it up in a situation like that. To just allow a veteran hitter like Kinsler the advantage of facing a lefty pitcher with the bases loaded…UNACCEPTABLE (just another reason why AA needs to REPLACE HIS OLD-OUTDATED ‘playing with hunches’ BS methods…with someone younger who is more in tuned with putting his players in positioned to SUCCEED…NOT fail!). That decision to leave in Biddle…basically cost us any chance of coming back.

2. 3 days into September…and no END IN SIGHT when it comes to the power outage from Freddie and Markakis! The Braves are going to continue to score runs on days where Ronald Acuna isnt carrying our offense (as long as Freddie and Markakis stay being a singles/occasional doubles hitter while hitting in the #3-#4 spots of the order). I see what Freddie is trying to do (work on hitting the ball the other way/with power. He probably feels that if he can become a threat to hit the ball the other way with power….defenses will start to play him more ‘straight up’ (allowing him to go back to pulling the ball).

In the long run, I get why he’s ‘working on it’. However right now (especially the past 2 months), his LACK OF POWER is absolutely STALLING our offense (as I posted previously…from July 1st-August 31st….in 402 combined at-bats..Freeman/Markakis hit a COMBINED 10 homers. That’s 1 homer every 40 at-bats between the two of them. If Philly werent struggling….we’d be in trouble right now.

Freddie either needs to start producing results with his ‘hitting the ball the other way approach’ SOON…or go back to trying to pull the ball out of the park (at least until the offseason, where he can work on it..then try again in Spring Training to see if he can hit the other way with power in ST games).

3. Nick Markakis is back to being The Nick Markakis of the past 3 years (especially since July 1st). Having him hit cleanup now…is a waste! I’d rather have Markakis hit leadoff…and Acuna hit cleanup behind Freddie (long term, I’d like to see Acuna kept in the leadoff spot…and for AA to go out and get an outfielder with some power to hit cleanup during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason) for the rest of The 2018 Season.

4. It is getting HELLA OLD seeing Snitker TROT OUT three lefties in a row WITHOUT POWER (at least the past 2 months) in Inciarte, Freeman and Markakis hitting #2-#3-#4. Other teams dont do that. They have THE SENSE to go with lefty-right-lefty-righty splits in their lineups. Why doesnt Snitker?

Paul, I could see the merit in giving Wright a shot in a high leverage situation like that. I can see the other side of the coin though, too. Had he went to Wright, and Kyle got tattooed, it’s a little harder to explain away than just saying I went with a known commodity. Hindsight’s always 20/20, however.

I think the bigger issue is the offense, and apparently the club does, too. They keep tweaking around the edges, so you know they’re hoping to catch some lightning in a bottle somewhere. As Roger said though, there may not be an answer this season. As well as Acuna has hit out of the 1 hole, I hope they don’t move him. Nick is more of your prototypical two guy, but then who hits 4th?

Honestly, I don’t know that the best answer isn’t to move Freeman down a slot for the rest of this season? They could try…

Acuna
Markakis
Albies
Freeman
Camargo
FlowZuki
Inciarte/Duvall
Swanson

Like Roger said, Albies would put some speed in front of Freeman, which might be the best protection the team can give him at this point, absent a true 4 guy. He’d at least see more fastballs, and if Ozzie is on 2nd, it’d be harder to shift. And if you want to try Duda or Riley, then you’re benching one of Freeman or Camargo- unless you want to go all Milwaukee Brewers, throw a guy out in the OF, and let’s see what happens. Lol.

King….at this point in Kinsler’s career, he’s MUCH MORE effective..against lefty pitchers. With 2 outs in the inning….Wright only had to get one out! The matchup favored him. I wouldnt have been upset if Wright got hit….I’d given credit to Kinsler. However, as soon as Biddle was left in..I had a bad feeling.

Paul, I’m not sure there is a good answer going forward. There are so many guys slumping that shuffling the lineup around doesn’t seem like it will do much good. The only guys hitting are Acuna, Swanson, and Camargo. Neither Swanson nor Camargo have hit well in the #2 position and do best in the lineup position they are currently in. Splitting them up with a catcher makes them less effective and Freeman/Markakis not hitting well in front of Camargo reduces his effectiveness (as well as the pitcher hitting between Swanson and Acuna).

I think the biggest issue has been that the Braves have not been willing to pressure the basepaths with Freddie up. No one is trying to steal in front of him. He might get more of those meatball pitches to hit if the opposing pitcher was concerned about someone stealing a base. And Freddie’s going the other way is not at all his problem. He has always had a middle of the field approach and his HRs go to CF or the power alleys. What I see is him totally missing pitches that he normally hits – pitches in his hot zones. He is, as a result, striking out more. I don’t know if his vision is off or he is just fatigued. FG did a good story on Freddie a while ago about him being not only one of the highest swing rates for strikes but also one of the best at avoiding swinging at pitches out of the zone – a combination that is rare, especially among power hitters. I’ll bet you’d find that his swing rate on strikes is still the same but his contact rate is much lower recently.

Markakis, I don’t know, probably natural regression. But we do not currently have anyone to fill those spots if we sat Freddie or Markakis. Would you rather have Duda in than Freddie on any particular day? Duvall for Markakis? How much would you gain?

Unfortunately, we live by the Freeman/Markakis bats or die by them. I might support batting Ozzie 4th in between the two for a while but Ozzie is not doing that great either.

Roger…I’ll give you an example of when Snitker should rest Freddie and Markakis:

1. The last time we played Washington in Washington, The Braves took the 1st 2 games of the series. Annibal Sanchez started, Braves were up 1-0 when Sanchez had to leave the game going into the bottom of the 3rd after he got hit with a line drive to end the bottom of the 2nd inning. Snitker went with Wes Parsons (his MLB debut) for 5 innings (ended up giving up 5 runs). The Braves had pulled to within 5-3 going into the bottom of the 8th inning (back when we were regularly scoring late inning runs….also, Washington’s bullpen had been shaky)…..when Snitker decided to go with Adam McCreevy (also making his MLB debut…and ended up giving up 2 runs to basically put the game out of reach).

Snitker had to know before the game started that if Sanchez had to leave the game early..he was going to basically ‘rest his best bullpen pieces’. That..is A PERFECT GAME to rest Freddie and Markakis!

Both Freddie and Markakis need a day off (maybe 2 days off). We have a 4 game lead…I’d rather potentially give away 2 games in the standings during the next 2 days…..IF it meant that we’d have a refreshed/productive Freddie and Markakis the last 20 games of the season!

Instead….Snitker keeps playing Freddie and Markakis (even in games where it’s likely The Braves are going to LOSE by going with bullpen BUMS in order to rest our best relievers).

I do agree that ultimately, it wont be until the upcoming 2018 Free Agent Offseason where The Braves will be able to address the lack of power we have in the middle of our lineup (which means 1. BYE BYE Markakis….but also 2. potentially a starting catcher whose more consistent offensively). However, that doesnt mean that Snitker is totally powerless to adjust the lineup in 2018. With The Phillies struggling offensively (and with their bullpen)…The NL East is very winnable for The 2018 Braves!

I’m HELLA WORRIED about Snitker’s decision making (especially when it comes to the bullpen). Come playoff time, I have ZERO confidence in him not getting OUT-MANAGED!

Here’s the difference between A REAL ‘present tense ROOKIE manager’ like Alex Cora of The Boston Red Sox….and…..a 40 year PLUS ‘past tense/go with your gut manager’ like Brian Snitker of The Atlanta Braves:

In the bottom of the 4th inning of Monday’s game between The Braves and Boston…..with the score 0-0….after having thrown 81 pitches (where it was obvious he was laboring) with runners on 1st and 3rd and one out….Cora pulls Nathan Evoldi and brings in Brandon Workman, who gets out of the inning without giving up a run. Even with a 7 1/2 game lead and COMFORTABLY with the best record in MLB, Cora manages the game like it’s the 7th game of The World Series (uses a total of 7 relievers, playing lefty-righty matchups TO PERFECTION throughout the game..which Snitker makes it HELLA EASY for the opposition to do by having Inciarte/Freeman/Markakis bat #2-#4 night in and night out). Cora puts his players in position to WIN THE GAME.

However contrasts the above paragraph…with how Snitker managed the top of the 5th inning, lol! To remind everyone….The Braves were up 1-0 going into the top of the 5th tonight. Newcomb (who had been battling with his control ALL NIGHT) gives up a leadoff hit TO THE PITCHER, then walks Mookie Betts for his FOURTH WALK of the game (top of the 5th, lol).

With 5 righties coming up and Newcomb OBVIOUSLY not having his best stuff AND with it being the 3rd TTO (Time Through Order, lol)….Snitker decides to leave Newcomb in (trying to give him a chance to ‘qualify’ for the win) DESPITE Newcomb getting really lucky to have escaped a bases loaded/no outs jam in the top of the 4th? Unreal!

Kinsler hits a liner to right for the 1st out….then JD Martinez hits A ROPE that Carmago dropped after jumping to get it (resulting in the bases loaded)…and STILL Snitker keeps Newcomb in (who promptly gives up his 5th walk of the game…tying the game 1-1) when Snitker FINALLY decides to pull Newcomb and bring in Shane Carle (who IS NOT the best pitcher to bring into a bases loaded/one out situation).

Carle proceeds to give up a hit that scores one run…then gives up another on a weak grounder that Carmago could only go to 1st on…before getting the last out with the bases loaded again to stop the bleeding at 3-1 Boston.

Then Snitker brings in Luke Jackson (Snitker might as well as WAVED THE WHITE FLAG at that point) who proceeds to give up 2 runs QUICKLY).

One, ‘positive’..was that Kyle Wright made his MLB debut…pitching 2 scoreless innings. However, why use him for 2 innings? He threw 31 pitches (pretty much making him unavailable tomorrow). Why use Wright as basically ‘a mop up’ guy tonight (Luke Jackson SHOULD ONLY be pitching in MOP UP duty)? Give him the one inning to ‘get his feet wet’….then have him available to pitch another inning tomorrow IF a high leverage situation comes up where you need Wright (and his SWING AND MISS stuff) to come in and be available for a possible SHUT DOWN INNING! Instead, if Wright has to be called on to pitch tomorrow, he’s not going to be nearly as effective.

Hella frustrating watching Snitker utilize the bullpen! It’s like watching Bobby Cox manage in such A PREDICTABLE/OUTDATED fashion!

4 days into September…still NO POWER from Freddie and Markakis (to go with the 402 combined at-bats from July 1st-August 31st where that duo ONLY hit a combined 10 homers). In a combined 30 at-bats in September so far for Freeman/Markakis…5 hits, 1 double, 1 RBI….COMBINED!

Perhaps Snitker should have FORCED his ‘3rd place/cleanup power duo’ (NOT) to take some off days (back when Snitker was basically FORCING Acuna, Albies, Swanson..and even Inciarte to take days off).

432 at bats COMBINED is more than a ‘small sample size’! It’s over 2/3rds of a season’s worth of at-bats! Unacceptable!

I know, long term Acuna (in a real lineup with A REAL cleanup hitter) is better suited to hit leadoff. However, this lineup needs A SHAKE UP! Here is what I would do:

1. Markakis..RF (no power, might as well put his decent OBP to good use)
2. Swanson…SS (a right handed bat with some decent power to split Markakis/Freeman in the order)
3. Freddie….1st (no explanation needed)
4. Acuna…LF (LEGIT power threat/right handed)
5. Carmago….3rd (he’s been one of The Braves best clutch hitters all season long)
6. Albies..2nd (could switch with Flowers/Suzuki..depending on pitching matchups).
7. Flowers/Suzuki…C (look at above explanation)
8. Inciarte….CF (basically a singles hitter…terrible against lefty pitching. He should not be hitting any higher than 8th).

While not a ‘perfect’ lineup…it is BETTER than the out-dated lineups that Snitker ROUTINELY trots out there!

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