The Braves struggled this past week, as their defense and bullpen have simply killed them. Errors and late earned runs seemed to be the theme of the week. Due to this, they finished with a 1-5 record on the week. Yikes. They were swept by the Mets, who are arguably the hottest team in baseball. They lost a series to a weak Phillies squad as well. The good news for the Braves is they now get to head back to the Ted for a 10-game homestand. Despite their 9-9 record, the Braves still own 2nd in the NL East and have Julio Teheran and Alex Wood penciled in against a Nationals team that is struggling as well. The Braves will look to gain some additional ground on Washington and jump above .500. Let’s take a look at the standings and the results from the past week:
(4/21): Mets 7, Braves 1: W:Niese (2-0) L: Cahill (0-2)
(4/22): Mets 3, Braves 2: W: Carlyle (1-0) L: J. Johnson (1-1) SV: Familia (7)
(4/23): Mets 6, Braves 3: W: Colon (4-0) L: Teheran (2-1) SV: Familia (8)
(4/24): Phillies 1, Braves 0: W: Giles L: J.Johnson (1-2)
(4/25): Braves 5, Phillies 2: W: S. Miller (3-0) L: Buchanon (0-4) SV: Grilli (7)
(4/26): Phillies 5, Braves 4: W: Williams L: Cahill (0-3) SV: Papelbon (4)
4/21: Braves call up Ian Thomas
4/23: Juan Jaime outrighted to AAA Gwinnett
4/24: Braves call up Michael Kohn and John Cornely from AAA Gwinnett
Braves option Sugar Ray Marimon, Brandon Cunniff to AAA Gwinnett
Christian Bethancourt hasn’t seen the lineup much lately, and for good reason. A.J. Pierzynski is smoking hot. Coming off a hot Spring Training, Pierzynski has carried his success into the regular season with no signs of slowing down. This past week, he hit .500 (7-for-14) with a .533 OBP. Christian Bethancourt will continue to receive starts as he is Atlanta’s catcher of the future, but if he continues to struggle and Pierzynski continues his great play, it’s only going to get harder and harder to pencil him into the lineup. He and fellow offseason acquisition Nick Markakis continue to have great seasons, and Markakis (last week’s recipient) definitely received consideration here as well. At some point, Shelby Miller has got to get some love as well, as he has pitched lights out. Pierzynski is hitting .382 with 3 Home Runs and 6 RBI on the season.
Jace Peterson continues to struggle at the dish, coming off a 1-for-11 week. His batting average now sits at .182 on the season and he’s really struggling to get hits. Many (myself included) thought that Peterson was our best option at Second coming out of Spring Training, but this is an example of why Spring stats mean nothing. Peterson struggled last year at the Major League level as well, and he has a .144 career average in 97 big league ABs to this point. While Peterson is a rookie and this is a small sample size, these numbers are definitely worrisome. Alberto Callaspo has put together a nice little campaign, and Jace needs to step it up if he wants to keep consistently seeing starts at second base.
Prospect of the Week:
I will admit I’ve been a little hard on Mike Foltynewicz when it comes to my prospect ranking. I have him 7th on my list, and that’s definitely a lot harsher than most. My rankings will be updated Friday, and expect Mike Foltynewicz to be among those who shift upward. For those who don’t remember, Foltynewicz was the prize prospect in the Evan Gattis trade. Prior to this season, MLB.com ranked the flamethrowing right-hander the 78th best prospect in all of baseball. Look, I’ve always known Folty has “stuff”, but he struggled last year not only in the Majors, but in AAA as well. He had high ERAs at both levels, and struggled with his control. I think a lot of his struggles have been due to the Astros rushing him to the big leagues and using him out of the bullpen. The Braves made the right move by letting Foltynewicz start the year in AAA and continue to start games. It’s paying off. Foltynewicz started his week by pitching a masterpiece in Norfolk on Monday. He went 8 innings, giving up only a single run on 3 hits. He had 9 strikeouts and a lone walk. Unfortunately for Folty, he still received the loss. He finished his week with a nice outing Sunday as well. While he gave up 2 runs in 5 innings, he still tossed 9 strikeouts. This kid is whiffing AAA hitters on a crazy pace, and has 30 Ks in 21.2 innings so far. He has had four straight quality starts to begin his season, and owns a 2.08 ERA. Foltynewicz’s service clock is already ticking, and if Trevor Cahill continues to struggle in Atlanta, we could be seeing Folty sooner than expected.
Upcoming Week’s Opponents:
Washington Nationals (4/27-4/29)
Cincinnati Reds (4/30-5/3)