It is difficult to complain about how the Braves kicked off their regular 2020 season, especially after the big return victory on Friday night against the Mets at home (with a doubling of the bases, double advantage of the Travis d’Arnaud receiver in the eighth ).
̵1; Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 1, 2020
With 3 straight wins, two in a row against a damned good Rays team earlier this week, the overall results have been fantastic and have a half-game lead in NL East over the Marlins (who have only played three games and miss more than half of their list)
However, there are some problems that are currently holding back the Braves, perhaps preventing the team from being the best it can be. And with this season’s commercial deadline set for August 31, GM Alex Anthopoulos will have the opportunity to fill those gaps before it’s time to prepare for the post-season game.
Here is a look at Braves’ most obvious need that is approaching this year’s deadline and the various challenges Anthopoulos will face in an attempt to prepare the team for a successful race along the stretch.
Pitching, pitching … and more pitching
Aside from a slow start by some of the main training collaborators: guys like Ronald Acuna (currently in action .152), Austin Riley (.087 AVG), Ozzie Albies (.188 AVG) and Ender Inciarte (.105 AVG) – the Braves’ the most critical need at the end of this month seems to revolve around the initial launch once again. It was generally expected that there would not be a good start to the year in this short 2020 season, and it’s not even a Braves problem … the whole league is facing some disappointing performances at the pot (Craig Edwards at Fangraphs provided proof of just this last Wednesday). Also, I don’t think the Braves are planning to replace the likes of Acuna or Albies anytime soon, so maybe it’s better to stay patient and give young stallions time to pick up their pace. They are fine. The initial rotation of The Braves, though … this is a completely different story.
I know you’ve seen the fight, but here are the final lines of all 8 Braves starts so far, ordered Games 1 through 8:
- Soroka– 6 IP, 4 H, 3 K (ND)
- fried– 5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (ND)
- Newcomb– 3.1 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, K (ND)
- Folty– 3.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 3 HR (L)
- Wright– 2.2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (L)
- Soroka– 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (ND)
- fried– 6.2 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 7 K (W)
- Newcomb– 4.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, BB, 4 K, 2 HR (ND)
As you probably noticed by simply watching the team play, Soroka and Fried basically rotated their backs during the first two rounds. It’s not surprising news, but maybe these numbers are:
- Soroka and Fried combined: 1.95 WAS
- Rotation rest: 13.76 ERA
I don’t have to tell you … this is a main problem for the Braves and it has already cost Folty his job, like it was DFA immediately after his departure last Monday, when he failed to exit the 4th inning (fortunately for Folty fans, he was not claimed and was assigned to Gwinnett on Thursday, which means he could eventually return to the Braves staff ).
But a Folty revival will not be enough. The Braves are already missing left-handed Cole Hamels, whose return – according to manager Brian Snitker again on July 20– is “It will take a while.” And of course there is Felix Hernandez, who he gave up on the season because of it concerns about coronavirus. How nice would it be to have some start with him right now?
Considering the potential for future injuries, the Braves don’t just need it a jug… the team could use several.
Granted – as ours Chase Irle reported on Friday– Touki Toussaint could impress today in what will be his first start of the 2020 season (so far he has appeared as a relief). A solid tour of the 24 year old Touki could do a lot to stabilize an inconsistent staff, but even if he throws well … the Braves yet they have two more slots in the rotation that could desperately use a push. And I know it seems difficult to distribute criticism after only two releases (only one for Wright), but there is absolutely no time for the guys from“Solve things” in a 60-game season. Hell, we have already almost reached the sixth regular season!
Help will not be easy
Unfortunately, acquiring reinforcements this year will not be a very simple process, as there have been numerous changes in the 2020 season … most of which will make decent trade difficult enough.
First, the expansion of this year’s postseason – from 10 to 16 teams – makes it much more difficult to determine if it’s time to throw in the towel when the trade expires. Assuming there are no more postponements or cancellations due to positive COVID tests, the Braves are well on their way to completing another 26 games between today’s match against the Mets and the team’s matchup with the Red Sox on August 31, giving the Braves and most of the rest of league 35 games played in total by the due date. Obviously, this is just over half of the 2020 season … but there are still only 35 games! In addition to the handful of oil tankers (Marlins, Orioles, Tigers … etc.), will there be many clubs trying to move their main starting pitchers?
Speaking of the potential for more positive COVID cases, there is a real possibility that teams are hesitant to negotiate their best prospects, given the uncertainty as to whether MLB is or not even ends 2020 season. As of Friday, for Jeff Passan at ESPN, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark that if the sport hadn’t done a better job of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, it would have just turn it off. Right now or not right, the odds of many other positive tests are probably very high, given that the Marlins had just had 21 members of their club have tested positive with the virus.
And then, there is the lack of minor league baseball, which deprives the development of highly touted perspectives and hinders the ability of major league teams to “work” in a newly acquired player … as a veteran starting pitcher recently released. For example, over the course of this month, the Giants decide to let go of Jeff Samardzija, who has had a terrible first start this season (and is getting up there in ages, by the way). Aside from some intrasquad work in Gwinnett, the Braves wouldn’t have had a chance to work on it before throwing it against the wolves in a Major League game. And if this were indeed the case and Samardzija was to be released in the coming weeks, it probably means that it has not been launched well, which probably means that something needs to be fixed. In short, there is not much to work with … unless the Braves can trade for a high level beginner who is already fit in mid-season and throwing well (but not many teams are in the process of giving away such players)
All in all, it is clear that Braves needs help with the rotation. If it had been another year, under normal circumstances, perhaps trying someone like Ian Anderson or Bryse Wilson might have been an option. But as mentioned above, there is simply no time for that. If things keep going as they are going for nos. From 3 to 5 starters, the Braves will be forced to make some changes.