This is my first post in at least a few weeks as work has been exceptionally busy, and your recappers have been doing a tremendous job. Thank you, guys. So I’ve got a few overall thoughts that are relevant to today’s game.
Kevin Gausman, even with today’s start, has been disappointing. It’s possible that all 3 narratives about Gausman are true: he was better than he showed in Baltimore, he pitched like he was turning a corner after being acquired by Atlanta, and he has disappointed this year. But his FIP so far this year (3.66) has been lower than his FIP with Atlanta last year (3.78). That’s been heavily influenced by keeping batted balls in line (H/9 and HR/9 have not changed much), and while his walk rate has increased (big reason for some of his poor outings), his strike out rate has shot up (6.6 with Atlanta last year; 9.4 so far this year). He’s probably been a little unlucky, and we might see that ERA creep down into a more aesthetically pleasing territory soon.
The Braves are finally putting some filth in the pen. Jacob Webb, Sean Newcomb, Touki Toussaint, and Luke Jackson carried the majority of the freight today (Blevins walked a couple and gave way to the righty Touks). With Blevins’ work included, the pen contributed 7 innings with only one run scored, a homer given up by Newcomb. The Braves, to their credit, have been willing to adapt to the dumpster fire of a pen to start the year, and the sheer existence of Newcomb and Touki in one-inning relief roles show that they’re willing to move away from their strategy of letting the starting pitching prospects and young starters simply be starters. And with these additions to the pen, including Dan Winkler and Anthony Swarzak, the pen has been, well, acceptable over the last week (3.72 ERA). And if you’re a subscriber to the Athletic (or you read the comments from earlier today), you’ll see that the Braves are employing some the best relievers out there in throwing filthy, spinny, nasty slide pieces.
Austin Riley is not just a power hitter. He’s so athletic and strong, he has — sorry if you’ve read this a million times now — “easy power”. His bat speed is so impressive that he seems to be much more of a complete hitter than I thought. His 2-strike line drive hit to right field today to provide the go-ahead run was a great example of that. That’s something I’d have expected from Freddie Freeman, to be honest. In short sample, it looks like strike outs will not ruin his game, he can supply legitimate power (none of his 5 home runs have been cheap), and he’s holding his own at both third and left field.
We took 3 of 4 on the road, and we’re doing it with many players who were not here when the season started. I would think at this point that the next significant addition to the roster will have to come via trade or ::cough cough:: free agency, because besides Touki becoming a dominant reliever, I’m not sure who from the organization will provide a significant contribution that is already doing so.