For the second day in a row, the Braves were shut out by the 3rd-worst pitching staff in baseball.
Of course, this shouldn’t be that surprising. Many of you will recall that the Braves were swept by the Padres not too long ago: well, that is the worst staff in the league, so it really shouldn’t be a shock when the 3rd-worst staff kicks your ass too. And yet, it stings a bit nonetheless. Perhaps it was the fact that a guy named Donovan Hand, a relief pitcher with a 60-pitch limit, threw 4.2 scoreless innings with only the faintest hint of trouble; maybe it was the fact that I could have written this recap as soon as the Brewers scored their first run, an RBI single off the bat of – no joke – Juan Francisco; or perhaps it’s just the fact that I can still remember April. The Braves scored a bunch of runs in April, a month in which they had the fifth best wRC+ in the league. To state the obvious: I miss those runs.
Put simply, the Braves aren’t hitting at all right now. The team had posted a .229/.309/.339 triple slash over the past two weeks, and those numbers will only get worse after today’s calculations are added. They have now been shut out the highest number of times in both leagues. And most concerning of all, the power has almost entirely disappeared. Evan Gattis is hurt, Justin Upton hasn’t regained form, and even the guys who have been hitting a little (until) recently – Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman – haven’t been hitting for much power. This is a team built on power, and no matter how creative Fredi gets – no matter how many bunts are well executed and bases are stolen and runners are moved over – the Braves will not score much without extra-base hits. That’s true for all teams, but it’s especially true for this one.
So why are the Braves struggling right now? Why are they 6-11 over their last 17 games, despite some excellent pitching? All you need to know is the ISO. The team’s mark of .113 over the past two weeks puts them just ahead of the Marlins and Astros. The Marlins and the Astros. A two-week sample is tiny, and all things must pass. But right now the Braves are a true-outcome team lacking power. And that’s really bad.
Hopefully they’ll regain their strokes tomorrow, when they look to avoid getting swept. This slump has to end at some point, right?