With Swanson Gone, Who Will be the Braves’ Next Shortstop?

While the news of Dansby leaving the Braves was disappointing, it wasn’t all that surprising. The longer the question of “Will Dansby re-sign?” was up in the air, the more it seemed that the answer would inevitably be no. Now that the issue is settled and Dansby has signed with the Cubs, Braves Country must move on. We survived losing Freddie, and we’ll survive losing Dansby.

So…who will be the Braves’ new shortstop?

I think, as of where the Atlanta Braves are at right now, Vaughn Grissom is the most logical choice for our new SS. Grissom showed potential while filling in at second base for Ozzie Albies while he was hurt last season, and his position in the minors was shortstop so that will definitely help him in this position for the 2023 season. He has also been working with third base coach Ron Washington this offseason which tells me that the Braves are planning on making him their shortstop.

It will definitely be different to see someone else at shortstop who isn’t Dansby Swanson, but at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, this is how the game of baseball works. Dansby made the decision that makes the most sense for him and where he’s at in life — and Atlanta fans must move on.

Regardless of who’s at shortstop, I believe in the Atlanta Braves team. I’m looking forward to the 2023 season for the Braves, and I can’t wait to see what kind of excitement is in store for them!

Always and forever, GO BRAVES!!

Will Swanson Remain an Atlanta Brave???

With each passing day, this becomes a more pressing question. No one wants to see Swanson go, and I don’t think Swanson wants to leave either. Honestly, it just comes down to money and the length of the contract. I don’t see Dansby Swanson as a greedy person, but after what happened with Freddie, and everyone saying that he wasn’t a greedy person, makes me a little more apprehensive regarding Dansby. Not to mention he and Freddie have, or had, the same agent. (Freeman fired his agent in the middle of the 2022 season.)

There hasn’t been a lot of talk regarding Dansby Swanson, but one thing that the Braves organization does well is keeping their movements out of the public eye until something is finalized. They don’t ride (or start) the rumor train.

Coming into the 2022-2023 offseason, there were four big-name FA shortstops on the market: Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts. Turner and Bogaerts have both signed long term deals with the Phillies and the Padres, respectively. That leaves Swanson and Correa as the only big-name shortstops on the market, and there are multiple teams in need of one. That just makes the situation with Dansby more nerve-wracking because some teams (like the Dodgers) could pay big money for him. He will have the ultimate decision of remaining a Brave or seeking out a fat paycheck.

The Winter Meetings are now over, and while there were some big deals made… none of them were made by Braves GM, Alex Anthopoulos. This came as a little bit of a surprise. While Anthopoulos is never big into the rumors or openly discussed deals, he has been known to make some jaw-dropping deals at the Trade Deadline and the Winter Meetings. However, that did not happen this year.

One of my hypotheses as to why they haven’t made Dansby an offer is because he is getting married this Saturday, and Anthopoulos, being one of Dansby’s good friends, is invited to the wedding. They might not want any tensions regarding him hypothetically not being signed during that time. Yes, I know, this idea may seem far-fetched…however, I’m not really sure what else it could be. Unless they really just haven’t made him an offer, OR they did make Swanson an offer that he refused and they’re keeping it under wraps.

This is a tough situation to navigate. All I know is I wouldn’t want to be in Alex Anthopoulos’ shoes. No one wants to see Georgia-grown, Dansby Swanson leave Braves Country. But at the end of the day, it typically comes down to money. How much are the Atlanta Braves are willing to spend, and how much is Swanson potentially willing to give up when push comes to shove? I guess we will just have to wait and see how things play out- hopefully in the Braves’ favor.

Forever and always – GO BRAVES!

What I Think the Braves Should do This Offseason:

Now that the offseason has officially begun, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2023 season. The Atlanta Braves locked in three players this season: Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, and Spencer Strider. They Braves have almost all of their everyday players locked up. In fact, only shortstop and whoever is going to play left field are not locked up for the Braves. Obviously, The Atlanta Braves’ front office, the Braves team, and ALL of Braves country want to see Dansby Swanson at shortstop for the Braves for many years to come. He is a Georgia native and all things Atlanta sports. He has made such an impact for the Braves and over the last two seasons. We have really gotten to see the power he has and the top-quality defense he gives every single day. No one wants to see him go, but it’s all a matter of if he really wants to stay in Atlanta like he says he does, or if he wants to go where the money is. Hopefully Dansby won’t be another Freddie, but they had the same agent (Freeman fired his earlier this year). Dansby is obviously the biggest goal this offseason, and it’s my hope that the Braves would go after him first.

Along with Dansby Swanson, Adam Duvall, Robbie Grossman, Kenley Jansen, Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day, Jesse Chavez, and Ehire Adrianza are Free Agents. I would be surprised if the Braves re-signed Grossman, O’Day, or Adrianza. O’Day did not have a great year on the mound, Adrianza didn’t play much other than a couple games when both Ozzie Albies and Orlando Arcia were hurt before they called Grissom up, and although Robbie Grossman came through in quite a few situations in the 2022 season, I don’t see him coming back over Adam Duvall.

The Braves need a closer, but they need a reliable one. Jansen had his ups and downs this year, but he came though when the Braves needed him the most. I think the Braves will make him an offer, but I don’t know if he’ll take it or not. Luke Jackson did not play this season due to Tommy John surgery. However, in 2020-2021 he showed skill off the pitching mound. With his slider and his fastball, he was able to get batters out and get out of troublesome innings. I can possibly see the Braves using him as a closer, but I think Atlanta will try and find someone who has more closer credentials. The Braves could sign him to add more depth to the bullpen, but there’s no guarantee what he’s going to be like after surgery. Jesse Chavez has become a fan-favorite. He has been traded ten times in his career, and has been a Brave off and on for 2 1/2 seasons. Chavez has come through for the Braves, and like Jackson, I could see the Braves signing him to a 1-2 year deal to add depth to the bullpen.

In the end, we will have to wait and see what moves the Braves make. I think I speak on behalf of all Braves country when I say that we don’t want to see Dansby Swanson in another uniform. He has become the face of the Braves this year and has proven just how good of a player he is, and everyone wants him to be a Brave for a long long time.

GO BRAVES!

My Thoughts on the Braves Loss in the NLDS Against Phillies:

To quote Brian Snitker, “It’s never over til it’s over.” And now, it’s over.

Honestly, it heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the feelings that the Atlanta Braves players and coaching staff are going through. They gave this 162-game season their all, and you could see that in every game. But, when Postseason baseball comes around, things change. It doesn’t matter how many wins you have, or how good you’ve been all year…what matters is how well you can play in a best-of-five series against a red-hot team. This year, the Braves had to face the Philadelphia Phillies, and quite frankly, they outplayed Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves are a really good team, there is no doubt about that, and they were very capable of winning. However, the Phillies came into this series against the Braves with a major spark and it carried them through. They were able to get hits when they needed to and had good strong pitching throughout the entire series.

The Braves never really had that spark. You could easily see that they wanted to win, and they had multiple chances to score and make that happen, they just couldn’t get the big hit. One of the moments that I think had a big impact on this series was in Game One when they left the bases loaded three times without scoring. You just cant let that happen – especially in a Postseason game.

Another issue was starting pitching. The starting rotation was never really 100% for the Braves in the NLDS. From Max Fried giving up 8 hits and 6 runs (only 4 of them were earned) in 3.1 innings, things didn’t look good. Add on Spencer Strider not being completely healthy and yet he pitched anyway and got into trouble, and then finally for poor Charlie Morton. Morton was pitching very well for the Braves in game four, but then he got a comebacker back to the mound that drilled him on his pitching elbow. He finished the inning and came back out for the inning after, but they had to pull him because things just weren’t looking right. This was hard to watch, not only because he was doing so well and has come up clutch in the Postseason, but because it brought back flashbacks from what happened down in Houston in game one of the World Series when a comebacker hit his lower leg and broke his fibula.

All in all, this Atlanta Braves team never truly seemed 100% healthy coming into the Postseason. With Ozzie Albies not being able to play, Ronald Acuña Jr. having some remaining knee problems, to Tyler Matzek having Tommy John Surgery the day of the NLDS, and other key components — it just wasn’t there for Atlanta.

Even though the Braves got eliminated much too soon, I have full confidence in this Atlanta’s Braves team. Next year they will come back and fight just like they did this year and years past. However, there are two looming questions facing the Braves… Will Dansby Swanson and Max Fried return? Obviously no one wants to see these two go. Fried has proven to be a stud in the starting rotation, and Swanson is a native Georgia-boy who has captivated the hearts of Braves country. No one wants to see either of these two go. Regarding Dansby, however, fans are a little more worried.

After Freddie Freeman signed with the Dodgers, it was made known that Freeman and Swanson had the same agent. Freeman fired his agent earlier this year but Swanson still has him. This automatically brings more concern regarding Dansby remaining a Brave, but I believe if he really truly wants to stay a Brave like he says, then he will accept the offer that the Atlanta Braves office gives him.

Only time will tell what’s going to happen, but right now the Braves are taking this one day at a time. Coming into the offseason they are going to rest, spend time with families, and then start preparing for the 2023 season to come. Only 4 months until Spring Training!

GO BRAVES!

Atlanta Braves Lock-up 3B Austin Riley With 10-year Deal:

Yesterday afternoon, Braves All-Star third baseman, Austin Riley, signed a 10-year, $212 million dollar deal with a $20 million option for the 2033 season.

This deal is huge! Not only is Austin Riley very deserving of this deal, but it means that the Braves will have him for a significant amount, if not all, of this young slugger’s career.

Austin Riley has certainly proved himself over the past two seasons with the Braves. When he debuted in 2019, he came up with some serious spark and lots of power, but then he cooled off and slumped for most of the remainder of that season. In 2020, he was very streaky and inconsistent at the plate. However, in 2021, we saw a drastic change in Riley. His defense was impeccable, and he was hitting consistently at the plate day in and day out. The same is true of him in 2022 – except better! Austin Riley has come through big for Atlanta in stressful, demanding circumstances. He has done this both offensively and defensively.

Overall, Austin Riley is a key player on this Atlanta Braves team and it will be very comforting and exciting to watch him play third base for the Braves in these next 10 years.

While this is a very big and exciting deal that I do believe needed to get done, it has left me with some looming thoughts regarding the offseason to come.

Among others, Dansby Swanson and Max Fried will both be free agents after the 2022 season is complete. These two are both key components of this Braves team. Both were All-Stars this year alongside Austin Riley!

Fried could easily be called Mr. Consistent in the starting rotation, and Dansby has shown out defensively this year and has been a very consistent second place hitter for the Braves. It is safe to say the Atlanta Braves would not be the same without Max Fried and Dansby Swanson.

Why I bring them up concerning Austin Riley’s deal is because $212 million is a lot of money. You have to keep in mind that money can’t just appear in organizations over night to pay players. And with the Braves signing Riley to this large deal, it leaves me wondering how the Braves are going to pay players like Dansby Swanson and Max Fried who both want to be Braves for the long run.

I’m sure that Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves general manager, could give Swanson and Fried good deals for maybe three or four years, but I’m not sure if he could sign them to a long-term deal this off season. It will ultimately depend on how much money these players want and the amount of money the Braves front staff will be willing to pay.

But as of right now, I know I don’t want to worry about what could happen too much. The Braves are on a great run right now and are coming into a HUGE series with the New York Mets this weekend. And it is also comforting to know that we don’t have to worry about where Austin Riley would end up after the end of this season, because he is going to be Atlanta Braves’ third baseman for a long time.

GO BRAVES!!

Braves vs. Phillies Series Wrap

This series for the Atlanta Braves – against their division rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies – was the start of the most crucial road trip of the season. At the end of the road trip, Atlanta will have played nine games in eight days: four against the Phillies and five against the New York Mets. So all of those games are within the Braves’ division, and I believe this series will make or break the Braves. If they don’t win at least one of the series, they will continue to get further and further back in the standing and have a much harder time at trying win the NL East, let alone trying to make it into the postseason.

Game One: Charlie Morton vs. Matt Moore, Braves won 7-2

This game was a great way for the Atlanta Braves to start this crucial series! Everything seemed to fire right on all cylinders.

Charlie Morton pitched very well. He went six innings, allowed four hits, two runs, four walks, and he had eight strikeouts. His command was good, he never really got into any trouble, and, for the most part, he was able to have control of the strike zone. His solid start from the mound was a key part of Atlanta’s win.

To start off the scoring for the Braves, Freddie Freeman had an RBI single that scored my man, Ozzie Albies, who reached base on a double in the previous at-bat.

Atlanta added onto their lead in the third inning. To start the inning, Charlie Morton struck out, and Joc Pederson grounded out to first. So with two outs, Ozzie and Freddie both had first pitch singles to keep the inning alive. Austin Riley then walked to load the bases. With two outs and the bases loaded, Dansby Swanson was up to bat. On the second pitch he saw, Swanson hit a GRAND SLAM to make it a 4-0 game – all Atlanta! That grand slam was the FIRST of Dansby Swanson’s career, and it was a good one!

The Braves scored yet another run in the top of the fourth when Orlando Arcia hit a solo home run. He knew it was gone right off the bat, and it went a long way!

Philadelphia scored two in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t add on anymore runs. And, to score their final run, Austin Riley had a bases loaded walk in the top of the ninth to score Pablo Sandoval who reached base on a walk to start the ninth inning.

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Zack Wheeler, Braves lost 5-1

Lack of offense pretty much wraps up why the Braves didn’t win this game. Their pitching was good, but they gave up too many runs that Atlanta’s offense couldn’t make up for. We’ve seen it so much this season: they win one game and lose the next one (or two), over and over again.

Max Fried gave the Braves a pretty solid outing. He went five innings, allowed six hits, four runs, four walks, and he had six strikeouts. Fried hung a couple pitches and made a few mistakes, which the Phillis’ bats were all over.

The Braves scored their one and only run in the top of the third inning when Freddie Freeman had an RBI single to score Ozzie Albies, who had reached base on a double in the previous at-bat. That made it a 1-1 game. (The Phillies scored in the bottom of the first on a solo home run by J.T. Realmuto.

The Philadelphia Phillies scored four more times throughout the rest of the game, to make the final score 5-1, Philadelphia.

The Braves had a hard time producing offense in this game, but it was nice to see their bullpen only allow one run over four innings of relief. Atlanta’s bullpen seems to be getting better slowly but surely, and it’s nice to see them not blow a game every outing.

Game Three: Drew Smyly vs. Vince Velasquez, Braves won 15-3

Well, if you can’t tell by the score, this was an all-around good win for the Atlanta Braves. Their starting and relief pitching was very good, offense was through the roof, and defensively they did well!

Drew Smyly only went four innings, he left the game due to pain in his left knee. In those four innings he allowed three hits, zero runs, three walks, and he had three strikeouts. It would’ve been nice to have seen Smyly get the win, but obviously his health comes first, which is ultimately why he was taken out.

The Braves started off their scoring in the top of the first inning, when Freddie Freeman hit a two run home run to give them an early 2-0 lead. Abraham Almonte added onto their lead in the top of the second when he hit a solo home run, making it 3-0 Atlanta.

In the top of the third inning, Atlanta once again added onto their lead. Ozzie Albies started the inning with a ground out, and then Freeman followed him with a single. His single was followed by a walk to red-hot Austin Riley. Dansby Swanson had an RBI double that allowed Freddie to score, and advanced Riley to third, making it 4-0. Almonte had another hit – this time it was a two-RBI single that scored both Riley and Swanson, extending Atlanta’s lead to 6-0.

The Braves once again added onto their lead in the top of the sixth inning, on an RBI single by Joc Pederson that scored Guillermo Heredia, making it 7-0.

Philadelphia scored one run in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI double by Rhys Hoskins to make it a 7-1 game, Braves still on top.

As if they hadn’t scored enough runs already, the Atlanta Braves decided to add on some more! To start off the eighth inning, Guillermo Heredia reached base on a fielding error. Pablo Sandoval struck out to make the first out. Joc Pederson followed his strikeout with a single, and then my man Ozzie Albies, hit a gigantic three-run bomb making it 10-1 Atlanta. After Ozzie’s monstrous homer, Freeman walked and then Austin Riley hit a two-run shot, making it 12-1 Braves. WOW!

Philly got two more in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI fielder’s choice and a sac fly, to make it 12-3.

And then, to add the final blow for Atlanta, Joc Pederson ended his fantastic night at the plate with a three-run home run, making the final score 15-3 Atlanta. Way to go, Braves!

Game Four: Touki Toussaint vs. Aaron Nola, Braves lost 2-1

Touki Toussaint pitched extremely well for the Braves. He went seven innings, allowed five hits, one run, ZERO walks, and he had ten strikeouts… TEN! Not to mention he pitched a career high in innings-pitched. One slip-up cost Touki the game… but even though he got the loss, he pitched very well and should be proud. It is so nice to have Touki back in the lineup!

That one run Toussaint allowed came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jean Segura hit a solo home run to make it 1-0 Phillies. They added onto that lead four innings later. In the bottom of the eighth inning, their second baseman Ronald Torreyes hit a solo home run to make it 2-0 Philadelphia.

The Braves scored their one and only run in the top of the ninth inning. It came on a two out, two-strike home run from Austin Riley to get Atlanta on the board, making it 2-1.

Atlanta didn’t have much luck against Aaron Nola, but at least they were able to score one off of him. But, again, here is where we see the struggles of Atlanta. They go from winning a game 15-3, and the next game they can’t produce any offense. This is yet another area where the Braves need to step it up if they have any hopes of making it to the playoffs.

Braves vs. Nationals Series Wrap

Overall it wasn’t a bad series. Both teams each one two games… the Braves had a very good chance of winning game three, but the bullpen blew that. Ozzie Albies had a great series. His bat is hot, and he is providing some big hits for the Atlanta Braves. Also, in game four of this series, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson both reached a career milestone of 500 hits!

Game One: Charlie Morton vs. Joe Ross, Braves won 5-3

The Braves pitching staff did very well in this game. Charlie Morton gave up the only three runs that the Washington Nationals scored, and the bullpen was lights out. Morton went five innings, allowed six hits, three runs, three walks, and had six strikeouts.

The Braves had a very productive first inning. Ronald Acuña Jr. led off with a single, followed by another walk by Freeman, and then Ozzie Albies followed Freeman with a walk. So the Braves had the bases loaded and no one out. Austin Riley lined out to make the first out of the inning, and then Dansby Swanson had a sac fly that allowed Acuña to score from third and give the Braves a 1-0 lead. Then, Abraham Almonte walked to once again reload the bases. Almonte was called up by the Braves to play left field. William Contreras had an RBI single that scored Freeman and Ozzie, making it 3-0 Braves.

The Braves scored again in the bottom of the second when Acuña hit his 16th home run of the season, making it 4-0 Braves. He crushed it into right center field, it was a no-doubter. After the Nationals scored their three runs in the top of the fourth inning, the Braves scored for the last time in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI single by Guillermo Heredia that allowed Dansby Swanson to score, making it 5-3 Braves.

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Stephen Strasburg, Braves lost 11-6

Pitching was a problem for both teams throughout this game, but the Nationals bullpen was, in the end, better than the Braves’, which allowed them to ultimately win the game.

This was the first start since his return from the IL that Max Fried didn’t do very well. He only went 3.2 innings, allowed six hits, five runs, two walks, and he surprisingly had seven strikeouts. Over those 3.2 innings, Fried threw a total of 92 pitches- 64 of them were strikes. That proves his ball-to-strike ratio wasn’t bad, Max just didn’t have his best stuff and he never looked comfortable on the mound.

The Braves scored six runs. My man, Ozzie Albies had an RBI double in the bottom of the first that scored Ronald Acuña Jr. and tied the game at 1 a piece. Acuña hit his 17th home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth, which allowed Johan Camargo to score making the game 6-3, Nats on top.

The Braves had three more runs scattered around in this game, but the Nationals offense was more productive against Atlanta’s sketchy bullpen, which allowed them to win 11-6.

Game Three: Drew Smyly vs. Jon Lester, Braves lost 5-3… I was at this game!!

What a game this was for Ozzie Albies! Both offensively and defensively he was so impressive and he carried the team. Yes, the Braves lost, but it was still a good game… just would’ve been even better if the Braves could’ve held on and won.

Drew Smyly went 4.2 innings for the Braves. He gave up seven hits, three runs, two walks and he had six strikeouts. I wouldn’t say Smyly had a bad start, he just had some high-stress innings which drove his pitch count up and that’s what ultimately ended his night on the mound.

The Nationals started the scoring on an RBI single by their third baseman, Starlin Castro. The Braves came right back and tied the game in the bottom of the second on a solo home run by Dansby Swanson. Swanson absolutely crushed this baseball to right center field… it was fun to watch!

In the top of the fifth inning, Juan Soto hit a two-run homer giving the Nationals the lead back at 3-1. That score remained until the seventh inning.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Abraham Almonte led off with a ground rule double. After Pablo Sandoval and Ronald Acuña Jr. both struck out, Freeman walked and then it was all up to my Ozzie Albies. Before this at-bat, Albies was 1-3 and he’d reached on an error. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Ozzie drove a pitch into the gap in center field for a two-RBI double making the score 3-3.

After Ozzie’s amazing, game-tying double in the bottom of the seventh, A.J. Minter came on to pitch the eighth inning for the Braves. He has struggled in his appearances from the bullpen over the last month, and that continued in this pitching appearance. He got the first two National batters out without any trouble at all, but after those two outs he gave up a solo home run to Washington’s catcher, Yan Gomes making it a 4-3 game late with the Nats on top.

Chris Martin came on to pitch the top of the ninth inning for the Braves. He is normally lights out, but he got into a little bit of trouble. Once again, the Braves bullpen pitcher got the first two batters no problem, but then Martin hit Victor Robles and then Robles stole second base to get into scoring position. Then, Trea Turner had an RBI single that scored Robles and made the score 5-3. The Nationals were able to hang on to that score and win the game.

One thing that I NEED to point out about this game is who provided most of the offense for the Braves. It wasn’t Ronald Acuña Jr, and it was not Freddie Freeman. Yes, Swanson hit a home run… but in the end it was Ozzie Albies. Ozzie was 2-4 and he reached on an error. His seventh inning hit was the biggest hit of the ENTIRE game. Acuña was 0-4 with two strikeouts, and Freeman was 0-3 with one strikeout. Ozzie is so underrated and deserves SO MUCH more credit than he gets. My man (Ozzie) was also very good defensively and made two great plays in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Another great thing about this game is that I was there in person! Cheering for Ozzie is my favorite pastime!

Game Four: Tucker Davidson vs. Patrick Corbin, Braves won 5-1

This was a monumental game for both Dansby Swanson, and Ozzie Albies who both reached 500 career hits in this series finale against the Washington Nationals.

Tucker Davidson came up from Triple-A Gwinnett for his second pitching appearance of the season and pitched very well once again. He allowed only one hit, zero runs, five walks, and five strikeouts over 5.2 innings. Five walks is a lot, but he was able to get out of any trouble that he had created himself.

Neither team scored through the first five innings of this game. The Braves however, got on the board first with a four-run frame in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ozzie Albies started the scoring of that inning with an RBI single that scored Acuña Jr., making it 1-0 Braves on top. Ozzie also advanced to second on a throwing error by the Nationals left fielder Josh Harrison. Austin Riley followed Ozzie with a first pitch double that allowed Ozzie to score making it 2-0 Atlanta. Then, Dansby Swanson was up to bat. After working a full count, Swanson launched a home run into left center field. That home run not only gave the Braves a 4-0 lead, but it was also Dansby’s 500th hit of his career!

The Atlanta Braves scored their fifth and final run on an RBI double by Ozzie in the bottom of the seventh inning making it 5-0 Braves. That double was Ozzie’s 500th career hit! He and Dansby both reached a very big mark in their career… and they did it in the same game!!

The Nationals scored their one and only run in the top of the ninth inning on an RBI single by their catcher, Alex Avila, to make the final score 5-1 Braves!

Braves vs. Brewers Series Wrap

For a brief road trip, winning two out of the three games played was nice. I’m sure the Braves would have no doubt been happier with a sweep, but at least they won the series. They could’ve had a chance to win all three games (we’ll discuss that in a little bit) but unfortunately, the bullpen stumbled… again.

Game One: Drew Smyly vs. Adrian Houser, Braves won 6-3

As expected, after his ankle injury in the previous game, Ronald Acuña Jr. was not in the lineup for the Braves. They played Marcell Ozuna (like always) in left field, Ehire Adrianza in right field, and Ender Inciarte made his return from the injured list in center field.

Drew Smyly pitched very well for the Braves in this start. He went six innings, giving up only four hits, one run, and one walk. He also had four strikeouts. It looked like Drew felt more comfortable on the mound. He also had great command of his pitch count and of the strike zone. Hopefully, he can keep that up and provide some needed solidity to the Braves’ starting rotation.

The Brewers started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Luis Urias. The Braves came right back and scored two in the top of the third inning on a single by Austin Riley, which was deflected off of Brewers’ starting pitcher, Adrian Houser, which allowed Ozuna and Dansby Swanson to score, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.

In the top of the fifth inning, on the first pitch he saw, Marcell Ozuna hit a solo home run to straight away center to give the Braves a 3-1. He SMOKED that baseball! Not to take any attention away from Ozuna, but the very next batter, Ozzie Albies, after working a full count, also hit a solo home run to straight away center. YAYY!! It was an absolute BOMB. It went 429 feet, and extended the Braves lead to 5-1. Ozuna and Albies went back-to-back for the first time this season for the Braves. The Braves also scored one more on an RBI single by Ender Inciarte in the top of the eighth to make it 6-1, Braves on top.

The bullpen pitched very well and effectively for the Braves, until the bottom of the ninth inning. Josh Tomlin started the inning for the Braves. He gave up to solo home runs to the first two batters he faced, making it a 6-3 game. That definitely brought some un-needed suspense into the bottom of the ninth. He retired one batter, and then Brian Snitker went to the bullpen to get Will Smith. Smith did his job and kept the Brewers right there, allowing the Braves to win 5-3.

Game Two: Ian Anderson vs. Brett Anderson, Braves won 5-1

Ian Anderson pitched AMAZING for the Braves in this game! He pitched six hitless and scoreless innings for the Braves. He started to pitch the seventh but gave up a single and a double without retiring a batter, and his pitch count was the highest it had ever been in his career (110 pitches), so Brian Snitker took him out. He ended up getting charged one run, that A.J. Minter allowed to score in relief of Anderson. It was very nice to see Anderson have dominance on the mound and pitch as well as he did.

The Braves backed up Anderson’s start by scoring early. They started the scoring off on a RBI double by Ozzie Albies (yay!) which allowed Freddie Freeman to score and advanced Marcell Ozuna to third in the top of the first. Not to mention, it gave the Braves a 1-0 lead! My man has done great so far in this series against the Brewers, and his bat is starting to come to life. The Braves score another run in the top of the first on a sac fly by Dansby Swanson which allowed Ozuna to score.

If you are like me, and follow all of the Braves stats and memorable moments that could possibly happen during the 2021 season, then you would know that coming into this game Freddie Freeman was sitting on 249 career home runs. He finally did it! Freeman hit his 250th career home run, a two-run shot to left center field. He extended the Braves lead to 4-0, and became just the sixth Braves player of all time to reach that monumental goal in his Major League career. Congratulations, Freddie!

The Brewers scored one run, which, like I mentioned earlier, was charged to Ian Anderson, in the bottom of the seventh inning on a sac fly by Brewers’ shortstop Luis Urias.

The Braves scored one more, and final run in the top of the eighth inning on a solo home run to straight away center by William Contreras. That made it a 5-1 Braves lead.

The Braves bullpen came through and didn’t let the Brewers offense score more than the one run they scored in the seventh.

Game Three: Huascar Ynoa vs. Freddy Peralta, Braves lost 10-9

Woah, what a game. After the start that this game had, I honestly did not see the Braves coming even close to a comeback. But, they proved me wrong and looked much more like the relentless Braves team we are used to seeing. It would’ve been even better if they came back and won, but that ultimately did not happen.

This was the first start that we have seen Ynoa start where he didn’t do as well on the mound. Not to mention he did not have a hit this game! Ynoa gave up nine hits, five runs, and two walks in only 4.1 innings of work. He did have six strikeouts, but he just wasn’t as put together on the mound for the Braves in this game. The bullpen didn’t do him too much help in relief either. Following his exit, they gave up three more runs giving the Brewers an 8-0 lead.

Okay… going into the top of the seventh inning, the Atlanta Braves are down 8-0. That is a huge run differential, but the Braves did not let that lead intimidate them! After a flyout of Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson singled and then his hit was followed by a four pitch walk to Austin Riley. Both Swanson and Riley advanced on the base pads on a wild pitch by Brewers pitcher J.P. Feyereisen. Following the wild pitch, William Contreras also reached base on a walk. Ender Inciarte had a two-RBI single following the walk to Contreras getting the Braves on the board making it 8-2.

The Brewers went deeper into their bullpen, replacing Feyereisen with Brent Suter. Keep in mind that their bullpen has yet to retire a Braves batter this inning.

Pablo Sandoval greeted the new pitcher with a first pitch fielder’s choice, he reached base safely. Ehire Adrianza followed Sandoval with another fielder’s choice, no one got out again because of a throwing error by Brewers’ shortstop Luis Urias. It also allowed William Contreras to score making it a 8-3 game. Not to mention, after the error, the Braves still had the bases loaded with one out.

Freddie Freeman was up with the bases loaded. On the very first pitch he saw, Freeman clobbered that baseball to straight away center field for a GRAND SLAM. That was the third grand slam Freeman has ever hit in his major league career. Two of those grand slams came in last year’s shortened season. His first two came within two days of each other against the same team, the Washington Nationals. He hit his third grand slam, his 251st career home run, and got the Braves back in the game making it a 8-7 Brewers lead… all in the same at bat. That made it a COMPLETELY different ballgame from that point forward.

However, once again, the Braves bullpen stumbled in the late innings. Josh Tomlin started the bottom of the seventh inning for the Braves. He gave up a lead off, four-pitch walk, got a flyout, and then gave up a one pitch single to Kolten Wong. Brian Snitker did not let him continue any longer and went even deeper into the Braves bullpen, getting Sean Newcomb. Instead of getting the Braves out of a mess, Newcomb hit the first batter he saw, and then gave up a two run single giving the Brewers an extended lead of 10-7. It’s disappointing to see your team’s bullpen blow a close game after your team worked SO hard getting the team back in the game, and when you know that your team is more than capable of scoring more runs. This is a problem that the Braves are going to have to do something about.

The Braves offense put up a fight ’til the end. They scored one run in the top of the eighth on another fielder’s choice by William Contreras, and there was yet another throwing error by Luis Urias, which allowed Dansby Swanson to score making it 10-8. In the top of the ninth inning, the Braves plated another run on a sac fly by Dansby Swanson which scored Freddie Freeman. That was the last run they earned, making the final score 10-9 Brewers on top.

Yes, it would’ve been nice if the Braves could have come back and won the game, and if their bullpen could preserve a score. But another disappointing and frustrating thing happened in game three of this series. Huascar Ynoa didn’t have his best start. That was made clear. He did not pitch as many innings, he gave up more runs than he normally does, and he didn’t have a hit at the plate. I’m sure the Braves coaching staff was disappointed with his start, but at the end of the day, they know that one player can’t be perfect all the time. Ynoa was also very frustrated with his performance, and he let his frustration out. He punched the bench in the Braves dugout, and as a result of that, he broke his right hand. He is now going to be out for at least two months just to let his hand heal, and then his strength is going to have to be built back up.

I’m sure Huascar is regretting his decision about punching the bench. The Braves needed Ynoa so much. They are already without Mike Soroka, who most likely will not be pitching for the Braves this year, which is a devastating blow, and now they are down yet another pitcher. Hopefully the Braves can gain some stability in the starting rotation and fix the much needed things in the bullpen, and soon.

Braves vs Marlins Series Wrap

Braves country, put it this way, we may not have won the series versus Miami, but at least we didn’t get swept. And we can thank Dansby Swanson for that! The main thing that led the Braves to lose three out of four of this series was the bullpen. The bullpen gave up multiple late inning runs in every game versus Miami, and that cost the Braves big time.

Game One: Huascar Ynoa vs. Sandy Alcantara, Braves lost 5-3

Ynoa pitched very well. He went six innings, only giving up one run on three hits. He had one walk and struck out ten. The Braves actually scored before Miami on a RBI single in the top of the first that scored Ronald Acuña Jr. The Braves scored two more runs after that on sac-flies by Ozzie Albies. The bullpen was not at its best in this game. A.J. Minter and Nate Jones gave up two runs in the top of the eighth inning, and then Jacob Webb blew the game and the save in the top of the tenth inning, giving up a single and a double. Those two runs led the Marlins to win.

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Pablo López, Braves lost 14-8

The Braves started this game off with some excitement. Freddie Freeman doubled, and then Marcell Ozuna hit a two run blast. Note that Brian Snitker changed the lineup to where Freeman was hitting second, Ozuna batting third, and Ozzie Albies batting fifth. Speaking of Albies, he got in the home run fun too, hitting a solo shot in the first to give the Braves a grand total of three runs scored in the first inning. However, that lead did not last long. Brain Anderson led off the top of the second inning with a solo home run for the Marlins, and they scored two more after that. Fried is really having a hard time controlling the strike zone and commanding his pitches. He pitched a total of four innings. He gave up nine hits, eight runs, and two walks. He only had three strikeouts. The Braves had to go to their shaky bullpen for the rest of the game, and they had a rough outing once again. The Marlins ended up scoring a grand total of fourteen runs. Fourteen. And do you know who scored/drove in most of those runs? That would be former Brave, Adam Duvall. He had four hits, scored four times, and had seven RBI’s. Oh, and he hit two home runs. The Braves did score two more on an error by Duvall in the bottom of the ninth, bringing their run total to eight. Overall, this game was a stinging blow to the Braves and their fans. It was almost too hard to watch.

Game Three: Charlie Morton vs. Nick Neidert, Braves lost 6-5

Another extra innings game, another Braves loss. Morton wasn’t at his best today. He went six innings, with seven hits and allowed five runs. Ronald Acuña Jr. hit two more home runs today. One in the third inning and the other in the seventh. Both were two run shots. With his two run homer in the seventh, the Braves tied the game. The game remained tied and went into extras. In the top of the tenth inning, the Marlins scored on a double by Jesus Aguilar. They held onto their late inning lead and won. Acuña gave the Braves multiple chances to score, but the bullpen could not keep the Marlins bats inactive, so it didn’t matter.

Game Four: Ian Anderson vs. Trevor Rodgers, Braves win 7-6

If you were looking for a close nail-biter for game four of this series, you got it. This was a good game, with an even better end result. The Marlins once again scored early on the Braves. They got a three-nothing lead on the Braves, all runs were scored off of Ian Anderson. The Braves made it a 3-2 game in the bottom of the fifth inning on another home run by (can ya guess?) Ronald Acuña Jr. This kid has continued to show huge amounts of consistent power in this series against the Marlins. And then, in the bottom of the sixth inning, with two Braves on base, two out, Pablo Sandoval is at-bat. And he does it again! He crushes a three-run homer to give the Braves a 5-3 lead. Man this guy has serious power off the bench. He is turning into a huge asset for the Braves! I think if Austin Riley can’t improve offensively, the Braves will let Sandoval play more games at third base since that is his natural position. Starling Marte hit a solo home run for the Marlins in the top of the seventh to make it a 5-4 game.

Top of the ninth inning, A.J. Minter is on the mound for the Braves to try and earn the save and a Braves win. Instead of sealing the win, he blew the save. He allowed to Marlins to cross the plate. One on a double by Adam Duvall and the other on a single by Garrett Cooper that scored Duvall. Man, the Braves bullpen is having serious problems keeping a lead. That has to change if the Braves want to win games and ultimately clinch the division and be successful in the postseason.

Bottom of the ninth inning. Dylan Floro is on the mound for the Marlins to try and get them into extras so they can have a shot at winning the game and sweeping the Braves. The Braves had other ideas. Ender Inciarte leads off the inning with a single. Acuña does the same thing, and Ender moves to second. No body is out, and Freddie Freeman is up to hit. He ends up walking to load the bases, still there is no one out. Travis d’Arnaud strikes out and then my man, Ozzie Albies, gets walked with the bases loaded and the tying run comes in to score. And then…Dansby Swanson is up to bat. On the first pitch he sees, he lines it into left field, the Braves walk it off and win!!

Hopefully the walk-off will give the Braves more momentum going into the series with the Chicago Cubs and they will start to liven up more and win more ball games.

Braves vs Mets Series Wrap

This was a good series for the Braves. It was also the last time the Braves will see the Mets until mid September.

Game one: Sean Newcomb vs Rick Porcello

This game was the best come-from-behind win I’ve ever seen! Not to mention, it was by far the best Braves game of the 2020 season (so far). Starting off to a good start, the Braves took the lead 2-0 in the bottom of the first. However, the Mets weren’t going down easily. After the Mets scored two in the top of the fourth, and having a six-run inning in the top of the fifth, the score was 8-2. Braves scored three in the bottom of the fifth making it an 8-5 game, but things still didn’t look good for the Braves. To make things worse, the Mets scored two more in the top of the sixth maiking it a 10-6 game. Yet the Braves – being the relentless team that they are – scored one in the bottom of the sixth and didn’t stop there! Dansby started the rally in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single. Then Travis d’Arnaud, a new addition for the Braves, came to life with a bases-clearing double and took the game to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL giving the Braves the lead 11-10, with which they won the game with.

Game two: Touki Toussaint vs. Michael Wacha

What a game for Braves fans and Ronald Acuña Jr.! With the rotation being uncertain, Touki showed great promise that he could pitch in the starting rotation. He may not go as many innings as Max Fried, but he showed some promise in this game. Pitching four scoreless innings, only allowing three hits, he showed improvement from the 2019 season. The only thing he needs to control more is his walk-to-strikeout-ratio, striking out five and walking three is this start.

Now on to some offense… Ronald Acuña Jr, what a game he had! Starting off slow in the start of the delayed 2020 season with a .184 batting average and striking out a bunch, this was his breakout game. With a double and two RBIs his bat finally came alive. But to make it even better… he hit an absolute bomb to left center feel giving him his first home run of the season! He was all smiles as he celebrated with the cardboard fans above the dugout. The Braves won this game 7-1. Marcell Ozuna also hit a home run, becoming a key player in the Braves’ every day lineup.

Game three: Kyle Wright vs. David Peterson

The Braves’ rotation still showed struggles in this game. Only going 3.1 innings it was a rough outing for Wright. Not to mention he didn’t pitch a clean inning and walked four guys. But the Braves relief corps showed excellence on the mound. Tyler Matzek pitched very well. Throwing two scoreless innings- only giving up two hits- he showed that he could very well become an important part in the bullpen, perhaps even making it to the starting rotation. The Braves were very good offensively tonight as well. Scoring two runs in the third, one in the fourth on a home run by Johan Camargo, his first of the year, and one in the eighth, the Braves ended up shutting out the Mets 4-0. Giving them a winning streak of five games.

Game four: Mike Soroka vs. Jacob DeGrom

This game’s starting pitchers brought on a rematch from Opening Day. Mike Soroka was looking to win the game but sadly, in the top of the third inning, running off the mound to try to field the ball, Mike Soroka tripped falling off the mound and had to be helped off the field in pain. After the game we learned that Mike tore his right Achilles and will be out for the remainder of the season. Prayers are with you Mike! And if that didn’t set the tone of the game enough, Jacob DeGrom had total control of the mound striking out ten Braves which ultimately helped the Mets win 7-2.

This was a good series, with the Braves coming out on top. The Braves team and fans are devastated by Soroka’s injury, and we are now left wondering what this loss will do to our season. But, Mike Soroka is a young guy with a lot left in his career. Right now, we just hope the Braves can come back from this loss, creating a new pitching rotation that will carry us through the season.