Another rough week for the Braves is in the books. While they managed to take 2 out of 3 against a weak Phillies team, they turned around and got swept in the Nation’s Capital by the Nationals. With two heartbreaking, late-inning losses to the rival Nationals this weekend, many Braves fans have a sour taste in their mouth. While many speculated the Braves would be a weak hitting team headed into the season, it’s actually been their pitching that has lost them games in recent weeks. The bullpen is still an issue, as they own a 4.76 ERA, 4th worst in all of baseball. The good news is we know what our starters are capable of, and that they will get in their groove eventually. As long as the bats keep churning there is hope Braves fans. The bad news is that the Braves now fall to 4th in the division, and still have two series remaining on their current road trip. Let’s take a look at the standings, results and transactions from the past week.
(5/4): Phillies 5, Braves 2: W: Harang (3-2) L: Wood (1-2)
(5/5): Braves 9, Phillies 0: W: Miller (4-1) L: Billingsley (0-1)
(5/6): Braves 7, Phillies 5: W: Foltynewicz (2-0) L: Williams (2-2) SV: Grilli (9)
(5/8): Nationals 9, Braves 2: W: Gonzalez (3-2) L: Stults (1-3)
(5/9): Nationals 8, Braves 6: W: Storen (1-0) L: Martin (1-1)
(5/10): Nationals 5, Braves 4: W: Solis (1-0) L: Martin (1-2) SV: Storen (9)
5/5: Braves call up Brandon Cunniff from AAA Gwinnett, DFA Donnie Veal (outrighted to AAA Gwinnett on 5/8)
5/6: Braves call up Williams Perez from AAA Gwinnett, option Michael Kohn to AAA Gwinnett
Freddie Freeman is finally back to… well… being Freddie Freeman. Though he got off to a slower start than many fans are accustomed to seeing from the star first baseman, he broke out during this past week’s road trip. Freeman hit 12-for-24 (.500), while also logging 6 runs, a home run, and 7 RBIs. While the Braves have gotten off to a slow start this season, it’s the pitching that is losing this team games, not the hitting that critics suspected would be subpar prior to the the season. Freeman leads all position players with a .328 batting average, and continues to shoulder the load for the team. His average is good for 11th in the NL, and he’s just getting heated up. I promise one of these days I’m going to give Shelby Miller some love one of these weeks, but Freddie’s performance this week had to be acknowledged. Keep your eyes peeled for an article on Shelby to be posted very soon.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Cody Martin. But it has not been a week to remember for the rookie hurler. With Jason Grilli day-to-day with back spasms, Fredi Gonzalez had Martin dealing the back end of Saturday and Sunday’s contests. The theme for Atlanta sports Saturday afternoon was close but no cigar. Thirty minutes before Paul Pierce’s bankshot to end the Hawks’ comeback effort in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Braves had just worked themselves back from a 5 run deficit to tie the game 6-6 against the Nationals. In the bottom of the 9th inning, Bryce Harper struck once again. He hit a two-run walk-off shot off Martin to give the Nationals an 8-6 victory. Things didn’t get any easier for Martin on Sunday afternoon, as he entered the 8th inning with a 4-3 lead, but the Nats rallied and notched two runs that ended up being the deciding factor in the game. While Martin has been one of our most effective pitchers out of the bullpen, he started throughout the minor leagues and doesn’t have a ton of late inning experience. Left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, Martin has pitched like a man with a chip on his shoulder and this is a minor setback in what has been a stellar rookie campaign for the Gonzaga product. With Jason Grilli “making progress” with his back spasms, he should be back to take care of the late inning work sooner than later.
Prospect of the Week:
What a great week for the Braves farm system. A ton of these prospects are putting it together, as Jose Peraza, Mallex Smith, Dustin Peterson, Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos and Andrew Thurman all put together really solid weeks. But one prospect stood out from the rest: Ozhaino Albies. At 5’9”, 150 lbs., Albies is far from a physical specimen. He lets his bat do the talking. This past week, Albies hit 12-for-28 (.429) with 7 RBI for A-Level Rome. Look, this is not a kid who is going to hit for power. He has just a single home run in his professional career. But this kid is only 18, has room for improvement, and will put on weight with time. He’s hitting .314 this season and is flying up prospect lists. While Jose Peraza is deemed our second baseman of the future, the Braves may have a dilemma on their hands a few years down the road if Albies continues to impress. He is currently on an 8-game hitting streak, 6 of which have been multiple hit games.
@ Cincinatti Reds (5/11-5/13)
@ Miami Marlins (5/15-5/17)