The Braves Opening Day got off to a concerning start on Thursday, losing 10-4 to the new-look division-rival Phillies. All that money appears to have paid off for the City of Brotherly Love because their two superstars – Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto – went a combined 0-6 and the Phillies still tattooed ten runs on the Braves’ pitching staff.
There were some bright spots for Atlanta: Julio Teheran looking like the kid who came up with the Braves again, and Dansby Swanson continuing to impress with the stick. But all of that will be forgotten thanks to the dreadful performance from the Braves bullpen. What was the single most apparent flaw on this team a year ago, Alex Anthopoulos chose to ignore in the offseason. He was rewarded with seven-earned runs allowed in three innings of work, courtesy of Shane Carle and Luke Jackson.
It’s only one game, but to many Braves fans, the sky is already falling.
The Braves bullpen is atrocious
Opening Day was not a good look for the Braves front office. Shane Carle is one thing, but the fact that Luke Jackson is still fiddling around on the major league roster is flat out embarrassing. I’ve defended the front office for holding off on entering lucrative multi-year contracts. I understand why they did want to guarantee large sums of money to aging veterans. However, opting not to spend any cash on the porous bullpen made little sense.
With that said, Carle and Jackson are candidates to be in AAA or DFA’d once the Braves’ staff is at full strength. I do question why Brian Snitker decided to bring in arguably the two worst pitchers out of the bullpen… in a close game… on Opening Day. Perhaps, he is still in spring training mode, but it is not the time to panic just yet.
Once the likes of A.J Minter and Darren O’Day return, along with Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman, the Braves will have much more serviceable options to choose from. Then we can judge the state of the Braves bullpen.
Although, yesterday did make the Craig Kimbrel sweepstakes a whole lot more interesting.
Dansby Swanson is going to be an All-Star shortstop
I’m optimistic, I am. Swanson turned in marvelous spring training after coming back from wrist surgery that took place last November. He finally looks healthy and is driving the ball to both fields, something he had not shown at all as a major leaguer. On Opening Day, Swanson was just as productive.
He walked in his first at-bat, doubled down the line in his third, and lined out in his final appearance. Being the hometown kid with flowing hair and a dreamy smile; the fan base wants so badly for Swanson to break out of his hitting woes. There are genuine signs he is heading in the right direction, but I’m not sure if Swanson will ever be an All-Star caliber shortstop.
Expectations need to be tempered. A productive year for Swanson is hitting .260-.270 while playing stellar defense. We already know about his ability in the clutch and the winning attitude he brings to the clubhouse, but it’s short-sited to believe he is going to break out and hit over .300 or 20+ bombs.
Matt Joyce is the answer to the Braves bench problems
If you decided to turn off your TV after Shane Carle gave up a three-run homer to Maikel Franco, you missed Matt Joyce surpass Adam Duvall for extra-base hits in a Braves uniform with one swing of the bat. Joyce hit a two-run bomb to right center in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Phillies lead to three. It’s already apparent he’s a better option than Duvall, but he is a career .241 hitter with inconsistent power. No reason to get carried away here.