Just Win In October: Opening Day! (Part 2)

Just Win In October: Opening Day! (Part 2)

This is an ongoing look at running the Braves in OOTP 21. I play the GM. My plan is to do one-week updates each time I post. For the most part, I’ll sim each game with small recaps until the Sunday Game of the Week, which I’ll give a live-recap in which I watch and write about the game as it happens. Today, though, I’m only going to do the opening series so I can be on a Monday-to-Sunday sim schedule. I’m also going to live-recap opening day rather than the Sunday game.


Before I start with today, here is a nice look at a piece on A.J. Minter.

A few days later, Minter reached out to us for help.

Well, then. I guess we have to help out. As a result, we have started a charity on Minter’s recommendation.

Minter is obviously coming off a poor 2019 season where he struggled terribly with control, but if he bounces back to his 2018 form with the bullpen that has been built for this year, that will help me make some decisions after the 2020 season since Shane Greene and Mark Melancon are both free agents. We’re already spending a ton of money on our bullpen so I would rather not have to fill those spots with big salaries. Having Minter perform well will go a long way to helping me avoid that.

So, I don’t want to dilly-dally too much today and want to give a play-by-play of opening day, but before I get to that, I wanted our top prospects and where they are right now. Just to be clear, where they are assigned might be a level below where they finished 2019. Chalk that up to a new regime.

1. Cristian Pache, AAA
2. Drew Waters, AAA
3. Shea Langeliers, A+
4. Ian Anderson, AA
5. Tucker Davidson, AAA
6. Braden Shewmake, AA
7. Jasseel De La Cruz, AA
8. William Contreras, AA
9. Kyle Muller, AAA
10. Huascar Ynoa, AA
11. Freddy Tarnok, R+
12. Patrick Weigel, AAA
13. Ricky DeVito, A
14. Victor Vodnik, R+
15. Alex Jackson, AAA
16. Trey Riley, A
17. Alec Berger, R+
18. Bryce Ball, R+
19. Michael Harris, R+
20. Trey Harris, AAA
21. Greyson Jenista, AA
22. William Woods, R+
23. Tyler Owens, R
24. AJ Graffanino, A+
25. CJ Alexander, AA
26. Vaughn Grissom, R
27. Mahki Backstrom, R+
28. Dilmer Mejia, A+
29. Corbin Clouse, AA
30. Beau Philip, A

A lot of the guys at Danville (Riley, Ball, Harris) will get promoted to Rome in stages as spots open up.

Right before the season was due to begin, I got a trade offer from Arizona. They are willing to trade us Mike Leake, along with covering 90% of his contract, if we surrender Yangervis Solarte and…Christian Pache.

Our top prospect.

My Assistant GM, Alex Anthopoulos, who was so gracious and stayed on after I took the job, was very frank in what he thought of their offer.

I agree, Alex. I agree.

Taking a look at the preseason predictions, OSA (the in-game news service) has us finishing 90-72, three games behind the Mets. The Nationals are a game-ahead of us with the Phillies and Marlins battling for the bottom of the decision. Not so sure I see it that way, but on the positive side, they are suggesting big seasons from Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, Max Fried, and Mike Soroka.

OPENING DAY – March 26

We’re out west to open a four-game series with the D’Backs, picked to finish fourth in the NL West with 72 wins. We will head further west to San Diego, picked to finish second in the NL West and win 88 games, once our series with Arizona is over. I won’t be so detailed about every game, but occasionally, it’s nice to take a step back and watch a game.

With Robbie Ray on the mound, Snit opts for his lineup that has Marcell Ozuna hitting second followed by Albies, Ronald Acuna, and Freeman. But first, Ender Inciarte will lead off.

On the first pitch, Ender rips a single to right field. If the whole “you can tell a lot about how a season will go by the first pitch” thing holds true, I’m even more excited than I thought I was. Ozuna follows by doubling to left-center and bam, we got the table set for a big inning. Albies keeps it going with a double of his own and it’s quickly 2-0 Bravos. Acuna singles on the first pitch he sees and damn, it’s 3-0.

Arizona’s troubles continue. Ronnie swipes second and gets to third as Freeman swings through strike three, but it kicks away from Carson Kelly. To make matters worse, Freeman gets to first base. We have a chance to make it an even bigger inning, but two K’s and a Tyler Flowers pop-up end the threat. Still, three runs before Mike Soroka throws his first pitch of the season. Not too shabby. Speaking of Soroka, he has a quiet first, allowing a single and striking out one.

His second inning isn’t quite as good as he walks a pair and gives up a two-out single to Ray that puts Arizona on the board. Starling Marte follows with a two-run double and as we head to the third inning, it’s all tied up.

Ray settles in and strikes out ten in five innings and I’m left to wonder how things could have been different had the trio of Johan Camargo/Dansby Swanson/Flowers did anything with runners on the corners and no outs in the first inning.

Soroka works into the seventh, but runs into some trouble via two singles and a walk. With the left-handed-hitting David Peralta due up, Brian Snitker chooses to bring in Grant Dayton. And…Grand Slam…yikes.

In a confusing decision at the end of the game, Snitker goes with Nick Markakis to hit against a lefty with Swanson on first. A double play follows to end the game. Not a great start for the season as we lose 7-3 and strike out 16 times – including 7 times combined by Freeman and Flowers with the latter surprisingly the only one of the two to put the ball in play.

Week 1 Scores
@ARZ: 7-3 LOSS (0-1)
L – Soroka (0-1)
@ARZ: 6-3 WIN (1-1)
W – Mark Melancon (1-0, SV – Will Smith (1)
HR – Travis d’Arnaud (1)

Two hits by Swanson and d’Arnaud with the latter homering help us in a comeback bid. We were behind 3-0 in the 8th and the D’Backs had thrown sixteen consecutive shutout innings before our offense woke up to score six runs. Max Fried gave up all three runs in 5.1 innings with Luke Jackson replacing him to strand a runner in the sixth. Jackson went 1.1, but two walks set the tables for Arizona in the 7th. However, Melancon entered and struck out the only batter he faces to get the win.

@ARZ: 6-1 WIN (2-1)
W – Greene (1-0)
HR – Albies (1)

On the bright side, we banged out 13 hits including Albies’ first homer. Inciarte and Albies combined to reach base seven times with each player adding three hits. Freddie Freeman is off to a horrendous 1-for-13 start with 8 K’s. Foltynewicz went four nearly perfect innings. He gave up a hit and a walk, but faced the minimum. Unfortunately, he left with back tightness. He should be fine for his next start.

@ARZ: 10-2 WIN (3-1)
W – Kyle Wright (1-0)
HR – Camargo 2 (2)

For the second time in the series, the Braves jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one inning. Unlike that game, though, they added on and had their second six-run inning of the last three games with a half-dozen runs in the 8th to turn a close one into a rout. Camargo homered twice in the victory while Swanson had three hits, including his first two doubles. Once again, the top of the order remained hot with Inciarte and Albies each contributing two hits. Wright gets the starting rotation’s first win, going 7.1 innings and allowing six hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out four. Greene left with a torn fingernail, but Jackson finished up with another scoreless 1.1 outing.

We leave Arizona with a 3-1 record, a couple of nagging injuries, and Felix Hernandez about to make his Braves debut in our next series against the Padres. No complaints so far.

Finally, before I leave this update, here is one final snippet on Minter’s charity.

So, you can say that I’m doing a good job here.

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