This is the latest installment of our regular series covering the Braves’ season from Baseball Reference’s 2020 MLB Simulated League (powered by Out of the Park 21). Each post recaps the previous “week” of games, with each week consisting of 10 games. All stats and results from BR’s simulated league can be found at Baseball-Reference. Remember… none of this is real!
We’re into Week 2 of what’s supposed to be the Braves’ 2020 regular season. However, despite more plans to potentially bring baseball back — one featuring all 30 teams in Arizona, and another consisting of teams playing at their respective Spring Training facilities (which I wrote about a few days ago) — there still hasn’t been any progress made on an actual return date.
Good thing there are no pandemics in Sim Land.
- Check out Week 1 here!
Schedule / Results
14-6 overall record / 1st in the NL East
- 4/6: W, 3-0 vs. SDP
- 4/7: W, 3-0 vs. SDP
- 4/8: W, 8-7 vs. SDP
- 4/9: W, 7-1 @ MIA
- 4/10: W, 10-8 @ MIA
- 4/11: W, 6-5 @ MIA
- 4/12: L, 3-2 @ MIA
- 4/13: W, 8-7 @ NYM
- 4/14: W, 4-0 @ NYM
- 4/15: W, 2-1 @ NYM
NL East Standings
- Braves: 14-6
- Marlins: 11-8
- Mets: 7-11
- Nationals: 6-11
- Phillies: 5-14
After a rough start to the season, the Braves are hot, winning 9 of their last 10 games after going just 5-5 to start the 2020 campaign. Granted, the schedule has been a bit light thus far, but a series sweep over the Padres and taking three out of four versus the Marlins is nothing to take lightly. At the moment, it appears everything is beginning to come together for the Braves.
Our previous recap was all about how well second baseman Ozzie Albies was playing. Well, that hasn’t changed a bit now 20 games into the season, as Albies and his team-high .390 AVG continues to rake. His big game came this past Monday versus the Mets when he finished with 4 hits and 2 RBI in what turned out to be an all-out slugfest between. After Mike Foltynewicz struggled in his start (more on him in a minute), both teams combined for 29 hits before Braves’ shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria slapped the go-ahead homer in the top of the 9th to give the Braves the 8-7 win. In that game alone, five of the Braves’ eight position-players posted multi-hit games, and both teams combined to exhaust 12 different pitchers.
Another positive sign, other than the Braves overall excellent performance, was Ronald Acuna’s bounce back in these last 10 games. Acuna started slow, but now leads the team in home runs (4) and RBI (19) thanks to two 3-RBI games against the Marlins last week. His .250 AVG and .755 OPS still aren’t quite where they need to be, but with another homer on Wednesday versus the Mets, it wouldn’t surprise me if Acuna’s numbers are drastically improved by the time we post our next Braves’ recap.
One player that hasn’t improved much, though, is Freddie Freeman, who’s now hitting just .181 through his first 20 contests (a very small improvement since last time). Freeman had a 2-for-4 performance back on April 6th, but since then, he has been nonexistent. He’s not striking out a ton (25% K rate), so perhaps it’s just a slow start for the big first baseman.
Offensively, the substantial takeaway from these last two weeks of simulated play was the amount of timely hitting by the Braves. In the last 10 games alone, there were five different late-inning, go-ahead hits, including two significant pinch-hit homers against the Padres on April 8th. In that game, Adam Duvall pinch-hit in the 8th (with the Braves down 7-5) and whacked a 3-run homer to put the Braves up by one. That home run came just two innings after Nick Markakis slugged a pinch-hit homer himself. The Braves would go on to win that game 8-7, despite more lousy pitching from Foltynewicz.
Here were some more late-inning heroics from the Braves: Two games after Duvall’s pinch-hit game-winner, the Braves entered the 9th inning versus the Marlins down 8-6, but scored four runs and won. On April 11th (again versus the Marlins), catcher Travis d’Arnaud tallied three hits, including an RBI-double in the 10th inning to put the Braves on top for the win; on April 13th versus the Mets, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria came to the plate in the 9th with the game tied 7-7 before hitting a solo homer off reliever Edwin Diaz (Braves would hold on to win). Lastly, Duvall came up big again this past Wednesday when he pinch-hit for Will Smith in the 12th inning, belting an RBI-double to give the Braves a 2-1 lead against the Mets. Overall, the pinch-hitting has been terrific so far for the Braves, as both Duvall (.600 AVG) and Markakis (.333 AVG) are hitting above .300 thus far.
Wrapping up the key contributors in the Braves’ lineup so far, Johan Camargo has continued to hit (.300 AVG), and so has Ender Inciarte (.306 AVG). d’Arnaud, thus far, has undoubtedly been a better option than Tyler Flowers, as the former is hitting .294 and the latter just .171, respectively. Newcomer Marcell Ozuna seems to be holding his own, hitting .250 with a homer and 11 RBI.
Right now, it’s just Freeman, Flowers, and Hechavarria (.203 AVG) who seem to be struggling, as well as Austin Riley (.176 AVG) and Dansby Swanson (.200 AVG). The last two of those five are hardly getting any playing-time, either, as both have just three starts to this point.
Moving over to the pitching now, the Braves’ starters — save for Foltynewicz — were strong. Collectively, the starting staff combined for exactly 60 innings, allowing 18 runs from 58 hits (2.70 ERA) with 43 strikeouts and just 17 walks (6.45 K/9 & 2.55 BB/9).
Mike Soroka started things off on April 6 with a beauty, going 8.1 innings and striking out nine versus the Padres, followed by another gem by Max Fried the very next day (8 IP, 4 H, 7 K). Then Folty self-destructed in his outing, allowing 5 runs from 7 hits in just two innings of work. Folty’s second start five days later wasn’t that much better (4 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, HR).
However, on April 9th against the Marlins, Bryse Wilson pitched well, tossing a five-hitter with 7 strikeouts and one earned run. Then, before manager Brian Snitker removed him in the 8th inning, Wilson came to the plate in the Braves’ half of the 7th and belted a home run for the first long ball of his big league career. Wilson would make another start this past Tuesday against the Mets, allowing no runs, seven hits and striking out two in 7.1 innings.
Kyle Wright had mixed results in his two starts. In his first outing, against the Marlins, Wright lasted just 3.2 innings after allowing seven runs (five of them were unearned) and walking five. Although he bounced back on Wednesday when he tossed a 3-hitter against the Mets, striking out six and surrendering just one run and two walks. That game became a classic pitching duel, as New York’s Rick Porcello racked up ten punch outs as well.
Snitker might have to make some changes soon, given Folty’s ERA is now up to 7.31 through 4 starts. The righty has allowed 26 hits in 16 innings. Here’s how the rest of the rotation looks so far:
- Soroka:4 starts, 1.98 ERA
- Fried:4 starts, 2.10 ERA
- Wright:4 starts, 1.99 ERA
- Wilson:4 starts, 0.68 ERA
The Braves’ bullpen has been almost as lights-out as the rotation, as Will Smith and A.J. Minter still have yet to allow a single run. Smith is up to six saves, having made eight appearances and striking out nine in 7.1 innings, while Minter has seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Grant Dayton leads the ‘pen in strikeouts (14), as he’s averaging over 15 Ks per nine right now. Dayton owns a 3.24 ERA through 8.1 innings.
And after a terrible start to the 2020 season, Shane Greene has successfully chipped away at his bloated ERA, bringing it back down to 5.87 (granted, it’s still the highest in the Braves’ bullpen). Darren O’Day also made some positive strides over the last few weeks, now maintaining a 3.52 mark. All-in-all, the Braves pitching is peaking right now.
Let’s get to our current team leaders…
Ozzie Albies, 2B
19 G, .390 AVG, 1.028 OPS, 3 HR, 5 2B, 6 SB
Johan Camargo, 3B
18 G, .300 AVG, .890 OPS, 3 HR, 6 2B, 12 RBI
Bryse Wilson, RHP
4 starts, 3-1, 0.68 ERA, 26.1 IP, 20 H, 2 ER, 8 BB, 22 K
Kyle Wright, RHP
4 starts, 1-1, 1.99 ERA, 22.2 IP, 14 H, 5 ER, 11 BB, 23 K
That’s it for this week. The Braves’ schedule remains rather easy for the next few weeks, as they’ll play their series finale against the Mets on Thursday, followed by three 3-game sets against the Giants, D-Backs, and Mets (again). Maybe… just maybe, we’ll find out more soon about a potential return for MLB. As grim as it may look at this point, having each team play at their respective Spring Training sites (without fans) seems like a doable proposal if the league can ensure the safety of all involved. Either way, the next month or so will be crucial for baseball if they plan on getting back on the field sometime in June or early July.
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