Let me first begin by saying “DON’T PANIC!” This is just one week of a very, VERY long season.
No! Let’s not listen to Capt. Picard here. The season is young and we as Braves fans have a lot to look forward to. So with that, let’s get to my musings for the week
The Week That Was.
The Braves did stumble out of the gates to an unimpressive (1-5) start. To be fair, the Braves ran into a hell of a 3 man rotation in New York with Syndergaard, deGrom and Harvey and still left Flushing with a win.
Game 1 saw The Met’s home opener. Julio Teheran did what Julio does best: Pitches well into the 6th-7th inning then gets taken out. Then the typical happens…the pen explodes…1 inning…. 1 fateful inning…(Can we get that back please?).. Braves give up 6 runs in the 7th and go on to lose 6-0.
Game 2 introduced an incredible hashtag that we all should use Atlanta: Welcome to #Bartlanta! Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colon made his Braves debut and pitched really well. But, the game ended up being decided in the ‘pen as it eventually went to the 12th where Matt Kemp hit his 3rd double of the game to bring home the winning runs. The Braves topped the Mets 3-1.
The rubber match of the series gave the Braves another debut with Jaime Garcia on the bump. Unfortunately his opponent was Matt Harvey and he looked typical Matt Harvey-esque. Matt Kemp seemed to be the only Brave willing to give offense and hit his first two HR’s of the season. Braves lose to the Mets in the rubber match 6-2.
The Braves then moved on to chilly Pittsburgh where they also had their home opener against the Braves. 37 degrees at gametime and instead of pitching R.A. Dickey like originally planned, the Braves decided to send out Mike Foltynewicz. Folty only lasted 3 ⅔, Matt Kemp left the game with tightness in his hamstring and the Braves ended up losing 5-4 in the series opener after belting 10 hits.
The second game in Pittsburgh was 20 degrees warmer and also featured the Braves debut of R.A. Dickey. Braves belted out 11 hits, but still lost the game behind 2 errors in the field that cost the Braves 3 runs. Braves lose the series and the game 6-4.
For the final game in the series in Pittsburgh the Braves’ Ace is back on the mound. Julio Teheran was dealing too. Went 7 strong and gave up no earned runs and left with a lead. Unfortunately, like opening day of the season, the bullpen gave up the lead and eventually lost the game. Freddie Freeman went 4-5 with 2 HR’s and it still wasn’t enough. Braves lose the game and get swept out of Pittsburgh 6-5 in 10 innings.
Runners in Scoring Position
During the first week of the year the Braves had an ABYSMAL start to hitting with runners in scoring position. As a team they hit .189 in 53 chances. Probably one of the other disturbing facts is the amount of strikeouts. 17 of them to be exact with RISP. That’s just not doing the job at the plate and we understand why the Braves lost 5 of their first 6.
Matt Kemp showed us that he was locked in from the beginning. Hitting an impressive .500/.529/1.125 slash line with 2HR’s and 4RBI’s. Unfortunately he slid for a ball in the opening game in Pittsburgh and pulled up with a tight hamstring. He’s scheduled to start Tuesday in Miami.
The bullpen had a really rough week. Losing 2 games with a combined 5.79 ERA. The ‘pen also surrendered 3 of the 5 total HR’s the pitching staff allowed in the first 6 games. Eric O’Flaherty and Ian Krol both post ERA’s above 10. Only 1 member of the pen has a spotless ERA: Arodys Vizcaino. The bullpen has to do better in the coming weeks.
Braves sign Jason Motte
Because the bullpen has been doing so bad GM John Coppolella reached out and signed veteran Jason Motte who was with the Colorado Rockies and had just been released a couple days ago. . Jason Motte, 34, is an 8-year vet who has a 3.28 ERA with 60 saves and 8.8 K/9 over 357 IP in 398 career appearances. The Rockies are on the hook for most of his $5 million salary, while the Braves will pay the Major League minimum. This is ANOTHER move by Coppy to bring in a low risk/high reward type for little to no cash.
The Braves begin a 2 game series with the Marlins where they will also be a part of Miami’s home opener on Tuesday. An off day on Thursday will be followed up by the long awaited official opening of Suntrust Park on Friday. The Padres will entertain the Braves for 4.
Until next week, in the words of the incomparable Skip Caray: “So long everybody”
Cover photo provided by Atlanta Braves Instagram page