jenkins

Open Thread, July 19, #Braves vs. Last-Minute Open Threads

It’s not Tyrell Jenkins’ big league debut. But he will make his first, er, second start in a few minutes. Good luck, young fella. Sounds like a cool guy from a radio interview I heard this evening.

I haven’t much to say about this evening’s tilt. CB is relieved the Braves are losing to the Reds. Keep that up and the home team hangs onto the first pick in next year’s draft. Me, I’d rather win a few more games. Could there be much difference between picking first, second, or even third? I doubt it, but then again I’m no draft guru. Maybe there’s another Bryce Harper available. If that were the case, would Liberty spring for the necessary bonus?

Tonight’s lineup:  Beckham 4, Garcia, Freeman, Markakis, Frenchy 7, Inciarte, Recker, Aybar, Jenkins.

 

cincy

Open Thread, 7/18, #Braves vs…. at Least AJ’s Not Playing

Donald Trump is a raging narcissist. A.J. can’t catch any more. Some things are beyond obvious.

A.J. mercifully won’t be in there tonight. Instead, Anthony Recker gets his second straight start. He’ll catch Wisler, who needs a good outing to get on track for the second half. Cincy’s goofy steamboat-themed ballpark is not the idea place to do that, but we shall see what happens.

The local nine’s starters: Beckham, Garcia, Freddie, Markakis, Francoeur, Inciarte, Recker, Aybar, Wisler.

I understand trying to find ABs for Beckham. He was killing the ball when he got hurt. But why not put him at short, bench Aybar and play Peterson?

julio

Open Thread, 7/15-7/17, Braves vs. temptation to trade Julio

My hopes for the second half are modest: Just don’t trade Julio. If he’s a Brave in October, and next March, then I’ll be happy with the rest of the season.

The team’s mlb.com scribe, M. Bowman, reports that Coppy will likely be “active” at the deadline. This furrows me brow. Bowman speculates that Julio could be had for a couple of elite hitting prospects. I wouldn’t do it. You have a No. 1, at worst a good No. 2 starter, at a huge bargain for four more seasons. So you give that up for a couple of guys who MIGHT bring some offense in two years?

I fear Coppy views the Braves as so many test tubes and beakers, as his laboratory, a vehicle to test his theories. I’m probably wrong, but in dark moments I think he treats the home team like his fantasy roster, and could just as easily be manipulating the pieces for the Rockies or Astros or Cardinals or any other team. Negative me worries he’s not even much attached to the Braves, but rather is out to show that he’s the smartest guy in the room. If he proves to be the smartest GM around, then that figures to help the Braves. But he might not be the biggest brain in MLB.

In any case, as for playing actual games on grass and dirt, seems like it’s been a month. Action resumes tonight as the Rockies visit Hank Aaron Drive for the last time. That Lucas Harrell guy — surely he can’t maintain his sub-2 ERA for even one more start, can he? — toes the slab this evening. The 31-year-old journeyman has baffled in two starts so far. He had a pretty good year in 2012 for Houston, but hasn’t done much else in 90 big league appearances. But good luck to you, Lucas.

He’ll be followed this weekend by Folty and Julio. Tonight’s lineup: Beckham 2B, Garcia, Freddie, Markakis, Francoeur, Pierzynski, Inciarte, Aybar, Harrell.

 

jarryparkaerial

Jarry Park, Joe Robbie Stadium, the Ted

I can’t find another big league ballpark with a shorter life than those three. I’m not counting Mile High Stadium or the LA Coliseum, which were always intended as temporary   homes for major league baseball. There have probably been others, but I’m not sure there’s been a park that was a baseball-only stadium that lasted just two decades as an MLB home.

It’s petty stupefying when you consider the mountains of services and things our public sector lacks (decent pay and proper training so that cops don’t shoot people who are lying on the ground, for one thing). Yet we in metro Atlanta scare up half a billion bucks for Liberty Media and Arthur Blank. Shameful, really. But what’s done is done.

So the Ted’s career will last but 20 years. Many memorable Braves had more longevity: Henry Louis Aaron, Phil Niekro, Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, Julio Franco, to name a few. If A. J. plays next season, he’ll match the career of the stadium on Hank Aaron Drive. Chipper had 19 seasons in the bigs. Had he not gotten hurt in the spring of ’94, he would’ve had a 20-year big league career.

Speaking of Hank Aaron Drive, will they rename the street in Cobb after Tim Lee, or John Malone, or Greg Maffei, or Mike Plant, or some other stooge? It’d be appropriate to call it Soulless Alley or Corporate Way.

As for the product on he field, the home nine closed out the unofficial first half in good fashion, winning 3 of 4 in Chitown. We’ll be along soon with our midway season report. As for today, it was especially encouraging to see Folty dominate. Striking out the side in his last inning, and firing his last pitch at 98 — impressive. I think he had just one three-ball count. One key seemed to be throwing his curve and change up for strikes, so hitters couldn’t essentially just sit on his fastball. Big league hitters can hit a 100 mph fastball if they’re looking for it and it’s not well located.

 

aybar

Open thread, 6.28, #Braves vs. eh….

I don’t have much. A couple, or five, random thoughts:

  • It’d be good to see Wisler keep working himself back into form after some rough outings. His past two games have been solid.
  • Aybar is hitting .289 with a .396 OBP in his past 15 games.
  • A scribe for the local organ referred to a Braves lefty as a righty in a game story over the weekend. That sort of error is routine, unfortunately.
  • The Indians are good, young and anonymous. There’s pretty much nobody on their team that a casual National League fan would know, and not many even a reasonably committed NL fan would know.
  • A week or so ago, Joe said on the air that he really hopes MLB will recognize the military during the All-Star Game in San Diego. Of course, the Navy has a huge presence in San Diego. I don’t know, Joe. A pro sports league saluting the military–often for pay–is the best bet this side of Jim Powell saying something snide about Bryce Harper if he gets the chance.

Tonight’s lineup: Peterson, Inciarte, Freddie, Markakis, Garcia, Pierzynski, Aybar, Bonifacio LF, Wisler.

 

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 21:  Julio Teheran #49 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the first inning to the Miami Marlins at Turner Field on April 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Open thread, 6.24-26, #Braves vs. buyers

Good start last night on consolidating my psychic gains. This team sure seems to have an energy it lacked during the Fredi portion of the season. It’s not all Fredi’s fault, of course. Peterson, Freeman, Garcia, even Aybar have hit much better lately. The pen’s been excellent and the defense has improved.

Trade talk is starting. Baseball players have a dream job, surely. Still it’s kind of weird that employers can command someone to leave their current job and go work for a competing employer, and the employee in many cases has no say in the matter. The workers can quit and take their chances in more mundane sectors of the labor market. But the money in baseball can be princely and the benefits are excellent.

Anyway, here’s a quick rundown on whom I think the Braves should consider trading or not. I haven’t conducted any thoroughgoing analysis, so please no indignant rants about peripherals and FIP and such. Thankfully we don’t get much of that up in the Office.

Teheran: NO. He’s a No. 1/2 starter who will make an average of about $7.5 million a year for the next three season, and he’s 25. And I like him, and a lot of fans like him. We’ve taken enough kicks in the nada the past couple of years. Don’t trade Julio unless you get a good, cheap young major league hitter and at least one truly elite near MLB-ready pitching prospect. If that’s unlikely, then keep him. If Coppy, et al aim to contend in a couple years, and let’s hope they do, there’s surely no one else in the org who’s likely to be a No. 1 starter in 2018.

Freeman: HELL NO. Losing Freddie would be a double front drop kick in the nads. “Build” is 72 percent of “rebuild.” A good, affordable piece who’s as close as we have to a franchise face seems a reasonable fella to keep around. We damn sure don’t have any other middle-of-the-order hitters banging on the big league door.

Vizcaino: Not unless you get a big return. Some blithely suggest you can turn any old pitching prospect into a closer. Eh, I’m not so sure. Harking back to Julio and Freddie, you have a few good pieces in place. Don’t we continue building at some point, and stop ripping out pieces for other pieces that might or might not be better?

Inciarte: No. Same thing. Good, affordable young player.

Norris: Yes.

Johnson: Yes, but only if the return is reasonable. Don’t just dump him for some team’s 120th best prospect.

Adonis: Yes. Again, though, don’t just give him away. He’s on a nice little run, and it may well be the best week he’ll ever have as a big leaguer. So if he’ll fetch a kid with any upside, then do it.

Markakis: Yes.

Francoeur: Yes.

The last few are obvious. That’s all the time and energy I have for now. Please let us know what you think about tradable Bravos. I’m sure there are other players who’ll be discussed. I just think if this club keeps playing decent ball for a reasonable stretch — say, another 40 games — it’d be a pisser to see their engine ripped out in exchange for a few fringe middle relievers who are in A ball.

I like the home nine’s chances to win at least one more in this series. The pitching match ups are not particularly favorable, of course, save for Julio vs. deGrom, which is about a wash. Still, I think the Braves get another W or two this weekend. Mets aren’t hitting a lot, though Cespedes’ return tonight should help them. Blair vs. Matz tonight, then Norris v Old Man Colon (I’ll admit I like watching the guy) before Julio toes the slab in the finale.

Tonight’s lineup: Peterson, Inciarte, Freddie, Francoeur, Markakis, Garcia, Flowers, Aybar, Blair.

 

Matt_Wisler_1280_oxpf1s37_9ukie3ro

Open thread, 6.23, #Braves vs. hope?

I’ll admit it. The six-game winning streak gave me a glimmer of hope that this team could play something resembling entertaining, respectable baseball the rest of the season. I still believe that’s possible.

And though I’m probably wrong to think this weekend says much about the long-range course of the team, my own short-term attitude about said team hinges on these next four days against the Mets. If the Braves can even split the series, that will–in my outlook, at least–consolidate the psychic gains from the recent streak. Stumble around and get waxed three or four times, and I’m right back to moping about the home nine.

One good thing is we won’t see Syndergaard, who might well be the Mets’ best pitcher.

Tonight’s batting order: Peterson, Inciarte, Freddie, Markakis, Garcia, Pierzynski, Aybar Bonifacio LF, Wisler.

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Open thread, 6.22, #Braves vs. two years ago

The Bravos today at noon go after their first seven-game winning streak since June 2014. They won 9 straight then, as A. Harang (above) got the win in the last triumph of the skein. Also notable: the club is 15-18 under Snitker, after going 9-28 under Fredi.

Is it because of Snitker? Certainly it’s not all his doing, but he clearly hasn’t hurt. Hot streaks from Freddie and Peterson have surely helped, along with better relief pitching and defense. Over the past five games, the Braves have made one error and the pen has allowed no earned runs. Withrow has been good since returning from the DL in late May. Outside of one disastrous appearance–six runs allowed vs. the little bears on June 12–he’s stacked up a dozen scoreless outings.

As for today, it’ll be intriguing to see if John Gant pitches well again. It would be a pleasant surprise indeed if he emerges as a decent starter. The lineup:

Peterson, Inciarte, Freddie, Francoeur, Markakis, Flowers, d’Arnaud, Aybar, Gant.

 

Comcast-DirecTV-Thingy

Open thread, June 17-19, #Braves vs. crappy commercials

Last year it was the AT&T flash mob jack ass. I had almost forgotten how bad that was, but I just watched it on You Tube. Flash mobs are lame in general, sort of like impromptu line dancing but done by people who think they’re freewheeling innovators.

Every season, there’s at least one maddening commercial that airs several times during every Braves telecast.This season it’s the “Built This Thingy” abortion from Comcast. Maybe Fox Sports should reject all ads from telecommunications companies. Ha.

This year’s shittiest-commercial-ever is a musical featuring a bunch of faux office workers dancing with little satellite dishes to a modified version of an insufferably cheesy pop song from a band that had a proud history before becoming a Journey forerunner. Good Lord. Sorry for that long, clunky sentence. But I trust that sentence isn’t nearly as offensive as the “Thingy” TV commercial. Come to think of it, I hate the “word” thingy.

Oh, this weekend’s series. The Braves are facing three really good pitchers for the defending NL champs on the road. Maybe we can escape from New York with one win. As I type, Freddie just knocked in Inciarte to give our homies a 2-1 lead. With Ron, er, John Gant hurling it’s in the bag!

Tonight’s lineup: Mallex, Inciarte, Freddie, Markakis, Peterson, d’Arnaud, Pierzynski, Aybar, Gant.

 

 

 

 

forest

Open thread, 6/16, #Braves vs. trees falling

If a tree falls in the forest but nobody ….you know the rest. So if a major league baseball game is played and, say, 800 people see it, then did it really happen?

We’ll probably find out today. A businessperson’s special ends this scintillating four-game set between the woeful Braves and the merely bad Reds. At least the temperature is only forecast to reach the low 90s this afternoon.

As for what happens on the diamond, it would be comforting to see Wisler right himself. After raising hopes very high, he has been battered in his past two outings. That’s not completely unexpected from a young guy, but still, it’ll be encouraging to see him return to form.

He’ll have this lineup behind him: Mallex, Inciarte, Freddie, Markakis, Garcia, Peterson, Pierzynski, d’Arnaud SS, Wisler.

 

 

storm

Open thread, June 14, #Braves vs.the rain

The Braves must have sold 13,190 season tickets for the last stand at the Ted. Last night’s official “attendance,” which is actually the number of tickets sold, was 13,198. It appeared there might have been half that number, if that, in the yard. So I’m estimating the walk-up crowd at eight.

With foreboding skies, and two of baseball’s worst teams scrapping, the turnout might be even smaller tonight. Slim Pickins, as Ernie Sr. used to say.

Actually, it might be a blessing if Mother Nature spares us tonight. Julio is pitching, so the Braves will have at least that going for them. But with the torpid offense and Vizcaino faltering lately — 4 earned runs in his past 6-1/3 innings — it’s exceedingly tough for Julio or the team to win.

Speaking of Teheran, is there another Brave who is remotely qualified to be at the All-Star game? He has a 2.85 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, 2.17 and 0.90 in his past seven starts. It’s not his fault he’s 2-6.

If you want the lineup, you’ll have to go find it. I don’t see it on the team site and frankly I don’t want to spend any more time on this.

 

COMMUTERS_USE_FRINGE_PARKING_AT_THE_ATLANTA,_GEORGIA_STADIUM,_THEN_RIDE_METROPOLITAN_ATLANTA_RAPID_TRANSIT_AUTHORITY..._-_NARA_-_556790

Open thread June 8, #Braves vs. history

The home nine hasn’t finished 30 games under .500 in 26 years, since doing it three consecutive seasons from 1988 through ’90. We know what happened next.

Let’s hope this history–the immediate post-1990 history that is–repeats itself, because it will take more than a miracle for the 2016 Bravos to finish fewer than 30 games under break-even. In fact, lose today, and then get swept by the Cubs this weekend, and there we are, 16-46. Chances of losing the next four are reasonably good. If it happens it’d be the second losing streak this season of at least 9 games. Already we’re in the midst of the fourth of at least five games. But citing those kinds of numbers is becoming as tired as another Pierzynski slow roller to second.

Maybe the Braves can trade KJ to the Mets every year. Coppy dealt the unproductive, pudgy-looking Johnson back to the Metros for a righty reliever who was rated New York’s 16th best prospect. Seems a decent return for a guy hitting .215 and playing bad defense at second base.

Julio starts today, so the Braves have a chance. The lineup is not on the Braves official site, but what difference does it really make? One piece of good news: BJ has cooled off, hitting below .200 in his past 15 games to drop his average to .239, and his OBP below .300. That’s more like it.

Batting order: Inciarte, d’Arnaud 2B, Freddie, Francoeur, Markakis, Flowers, Garcia, Castro SS, Julio.

F28562772

Open thread, June 5, #Braves vs. brooms

The Braves today try to avoid being swept for the seventh time this season. By contrast, the Dodgers have been swept once, and they’re only three games over .500.

On the bright side, Wisler is pitching and Mallex is hitting leadoff, against a lefty no less. Those are reasons to pay attention. Totally sucks about Folty. It’s not supposed to be serious, but just when he appeared to be finding himself, down he goes. It might not threaten his health long term, but it can’t help but set back his development, if only for a few weeks.Still blows.

Today’s lineup: Mallex, d’Arnaud, Freddie, Francoeur, Markakis, Garcia, AJ, KJ, Wisler.

 

605538

Open thread, May 31, #Braves vs. Improvement??

Well, the team is 6-6 over its past dozen games. Maybe Snitker is doing something right. Or maybe they’re finding a little offense here and there and getting (mostly) decent starting pitching.

Perhaps it’s a bit of both. In any case, it’d be nice to see borderline competence the rest of the way. The Braves could actually split, or heaven forbid even win this four gamer with the Giants, a first place club. Jake Peavy, tonight’s opposing moundsman, has been almost Shelby Millerian this season. His ERA is over 7. But two of his past three outings have been solid, so there is every possibility that he flummoxes the home nine on Hank Aaron Drive this evening. (It’s Drive, Chip and Joe, not Avenue as they both said during a recent telecast. Which is lame.)

On the other hand, young Mr. Wisler has been sterling, and he leads our worthies onto the diamond tonight. Interestingly, the only hitters who’ve done any damage at all against Wisler are No. 3 hitters. They’re hitting .464 against him with a 1+OPS. No other batting order position is hitting higher than .222, and that’s cleanup hitters. Not sure if that means much, or if it’s just a quirk. But we are at the end of May, not April.

Anyway, tonight’s lineup: ( I like seeing Inciarte and Mallex in there, with Inciarte in center because, for now anyway, he’s the better outfielder.) Inciarte, Beckham SS, Freddie, Flowers, Markakis, KJ 2B, Garcia, Wisler, Mallex. I wouldn’t mind seeing d’Arnuad get more ABs. I kinda like him. My guess is the Braves are hoping Adonis has a couple hot weeks and becomes somewhat attractive to other teams.

 

homer

Open thread, May 29, #Braves vs. overconfidence

Just kidding. But it is uncanny the way the Braves are handling the Marlins and no one else. And the Marlins are several games over .500 against everyone else.

I went with the wife, kid and father-in-law to the yard yesterday. First game I’ve attended since opening day. Nice crowd, a Braves win and some generous lad gave us a Chipper-Freddie bobble head, as they were gone by the time we arrived just as the game started. (No, we didn’t take his bobble head. He’d scored an extra.)

I also actually saw a couple of people enjoying the video clips of fake-bearded-fake-fiddler. Wonders never cease. It was fun not seeing the cow. And, thanks Marcell Ozuna, for one of the worst defensive performances I’ve ever seen from a big league outfielder.

As for today, I think the home nine has a decent shot at a sweep with Julio going. However, I’m a little puzzled by Snit’s lineup, especially with AJ catching after Teheran has all but asked that Flowers catch his every start. Also, Mallex is on the pine vs a righty in favor of Frenchy. Francoeur is swinging well, yes, but Mallex needs the ABs and the work on his base running.

The order: Inciarte, Beckham, Freddie, Francoeur, Markakis, AJ, Garcia, d’Arnaud SS, Julio.

  • The photo is apropos of nothing. I just think it’s funny, and I’m running out of time before first pitch.

 

Ryan-Braun

Open thread, 5.25, #Braves vs. Brauns

I recall hearing some first-rate heckling at a game vs. Milwaukee two or three years ago. A guy was researching all sorts of personal info about the cheating, back-stabbing Ryan Braun and using said info to taunt the then right fielder. It was funny. And at that time, it was still a bit of a novelty to see someone surfing the web with a phone, at a baseball game.

In particular, I recall the fan yelling about how disappointed Coach (I forget the name) would be in Braun. It was the name of Braun’s high school baseball coach.

In any event, the Bravos look to score more than a lone run tonight as Folty looks to rediscover his touch from a couple starts ago. It would be highly encouraging if he does so.

Meanwhile, Tim Lee, Liberty Media’s buddy and chairturd of the Cobb County Commission, will be in a runoff after some other guy outpolled him in yesterday’s Republican primary. For those of you unfamiliar with metro Atlanta, in Cobb as in most suburban counties here, the GOP primary is the general election. It’ll be interesting to see if Lee hangs onto his job. Not that it’ll matter to the mallpark’s opening and so on, but it’s as close to a referendum on it as Cobb voters will ever get.

Back on the diamond, does anyone else think it’s time to move Mallex up in the order? Those pesky base-running gaffes aside — like oversliding the damn base and getting tagged out — he’s really coming around. The average is almost to .250 after languishing below ye olde Mendoza Line for what seemed a few weeks. He has more homers and a higher batting average than Markakis. Last night Mallex, driver in of the club’s only run, only got three plate appearances batting ninth. Unfortunately, he’s there again this evening. I get leaving him where he is hitting and feeling comfortable. Perhaps that’s the right call.

But at some point, presumably this season, he’s going to hit leadoff, or maybe second. And right now, he’s better than Inciarte or Markakis or anyone else we have hitting leadoff or second. So move him up, Snit. Maybe tomorrow night.

The lineup: Inciarte, d’Arnaud, Freddie, Markakis, Pierzynski, Aybar, Brignac, Folty, Mallex. We write it almost daily, but especially tonight that 4-8 part of the order has to rank among the worst collections of supposed middle-of-the-order hitters ever assembled for a big league game. For fun, on this date in 1988, that gaggle of retreads and sad sacks lined up a fading Murph, an aged Ken Griffey Sr., Oberkfell, Paul Runge and a highly-unproductive-by-then Bruce Benedict in those lineup spots. Not so different from tonight.  And that evening’s starting hurler was another young guy trying to find his way in the bigs. But that dude was a lefty and he’d win more than 300 games and author the most consequential eight innings in Atlanta Braves history seven years later.

2ryNhQx

Open Thread, May 20,#Braves vs. Harmonic Convergence

For this squad to win, so much has to go exactly right.

The starting pitcher must be nearly flawless. The Braves must field properly, meaning it helps if Aybar is on the pine whether he has a chicken bone lodged in his throat or not. The pen must throw a couple decent innings, and of course the team needs to score at least a little.

This might sound like a routine formula for any team, and indeed it certainly works for any team. But a lot of teams can get by without all of these happening perfectly. And a lot of teams do at least some of these things right most of the time. That’s where the Braves have trouble. They rarely put two of these four elements together. Maybe they will tonight.

Wisler, at least, is a good bet to hold up his end. We’ll see about the rest.

Going back to Chris’ post about Julio: I fully agree the Braves shouldn’t trade him. There is no pitching surplus. There could be in a year or two, but not now. And I’m encouraged about Julio long-term, in part because he is effective without throwing 93-95. He is pitching superbly with his fastball at 90-92. And of course I could be wrong, but it seems unlikely he will lose even more velocity. Maybe Folty can learn from his rotation mate.

Tonight’s lineup, which Snitker has shuffled, and why not: Inciarte, Beckham 3B, Freddie, Markakis, KJ 2B, Pierzynski, Aybar (dammit), Wisler, Mallex.

052415-1-MLB-Braves-Mike-Foltynewicz-OB-PI.vresize.1200.675.high.61

Open thread, May 19 #Braves vs. Pitchburg

Tonight feels pivotal for Folty, though it probably isn’t in the big picture. Still, if he can string together three good to dominant outings, maybe, just maybe he is truly turning a corner.

As CB noted, that could be huge for the club. Folty is a flat-out power pitcher. He appears to have the arsenal to be a legit No. 1. His past two outings have been impeccable: 15 innings, 12 hits, 2 earned runs, 12 Ks and — critically — NO WALKS. Last season he never worked three straight excellent starts. In fact, he had no starts in which he did not issue at least one walk. So he’s already taken a small step, at least.

Turn in another quality outing tonight and he could be on his way.

The lineup: D’arnaud 3B, Markakis, Freddie, Francoeur LF, Flowers C (he’s hitting, leave him in there), Beckham 2B, Castro SS (there is no reason to play Aybar any more), Folty, Mallex. Thankfully Mallex is in there against a lefty.

 

 

pnc-park-1280

Open thread, May 16, #Braves vs.everything

Yesterday was a microcosm of what the Braves have become lately. We got another superb performance from a young starting pitcher (starters’ May ERA: 2.95, BA against: .224). We got anemic offense, combined with a couple of egregiously timed base running blunders. Then after the bullpen held up for a few innings, Grilli inevitably grooved a fastball and that was that.

But that’s progress. The starting pitchers account for most of said progress, along with Mallex. Granted, he was the culprit in one of the base running mistakes, and he blew a bunt attempt. That stuff is eminently fixable. He’s improving. I like the guy’s game, he comes across as totally cool, and he seems actually interested in baseball, evidenced by his visit to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame in KC.

As for tonight, William S Perez has a chance to extend the string of fine starting pitching by himself and the rest of the staff. There are many reasons to believe it won’t happen. It just doesn’t seem logical that he will throw consecutive gems. And the Pirates are pretty good offensively. They’re sixth in the NL in runs, third in batting average and second in OBP. Something that bodes especially ill for our boys: the Pittsburghers lead the league in steals, and Braves catchers have thrown out just 17 percent of runners running. The NL average is 33 percent. Flowers is especially bad, as he’s thrown out just one of 14 base stealers. AJ has only caught 5 of 22, but 23 percent is better than Flowers’ 7 percent.

For some damn reason, Fredi is again playing the aging backup Francoeur versus a lefty instead of the aforementioned future cornerstone who NEEDS EXPERIENCE. OK. Mallex is 2-for-24 against lefties, but so what?

The lineup: Markakis, Inciarte, Freddie, Francoeur (continuing the string of worst cleanup hitters in baseball history), KJ 2B, Flowers, d’Arnaud 3B, Aybar, William S Perez.