This is the first in a series of weekly articles where I take a look at the highs and lows of the previous week in Braves Country. We’ve waited a long time to have baseball back, and it’s been a big opening period, with ten games over a week and a half – so did it live up to the hype?
Overall record: 6-4, 1st place in NL East
Record this week: 6-4
Best moment of the week
Undoubtedly the series in St. Louis, where the Braves comfortably swept a team that boasts two perennial MVP vote-getters in their infield in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado while starting Dylan Dodd and Bryce Elder in the last two games. In all three games, the Braves scored at least four runs by the end of the third inning, giving each starting pitcher an early cushion and room to work efficiently.
Worst moment of the week
While the home series against the Padres hasn’t been great, they’re an excellent team and dropping a few games can be excused. Instead, my vote goes to the early slew of injuries the Braves are facing. First, Max Fried pulled a hamstring in the fourth inning of the first game while covering first. Michael Harris II tweaked his lower back, making a catch against the outfield wall. And Travis d’Arnaud suffered a concussion after a play at the plate against the Padres. The Braves hope that each of these injuries will be short-term, with each being back by the end of April at the latest, but it’s a tough start for the team, who will now be forced – God forbid – into running out Marcell Ozuna and his .074 batting average as a lineup regular.
Player of the week
While Matt Olson was a consideration for continuing his torrid form from spring training, I’m going for Orlando Arcia here. After winning the starting shortstop job in camp, he’s hit .316/.366/.526 with two home runs and a big walk-off hit in the home opener. He’s provided good defence, and if he continues to play well, it’s likely he’ll massively outplay the three-year, $6 million deal the Braves signed him to at the start of the year.
WTF of the week
Brandon Gaudin, the new Braves play-by-play announcer, made an impression in his second game with a well-executed lewd joke, much to the ire of baseball purists everywhere. Nice.
View from the other side
Each week, we’ll see how someone from one of the teams we play against feels about the series, their team and the Braves in general.
This week we hear from Manno, a Nationals fan from the excellent Bat Flips and Nerds Discord channel:
As opening series go, this may as well have been Michael Owen repeatedly rifling the ball past 13-year old Jamie from 12 yards out for his TV show. Nice one, lads. That the Braves contrived to lose the dead rubber 4-1 should give plenty of cause for concern; arguably more than any cause for confidence that may have arisen from the comfortable 2-0 start, anyway. Still, it was a nice start from our man MacKenzie Gore who is shouldering about 50% of our pitching hopes for this season, given Patrick Corbin is continuing his ICE cold stretch and proving appalling value for money.
He’s not wrong about the dead rubber – any loss to the Nationals this year needs to be scrutinized as a serious team failure. Thanks, Manno.
If you want to offer an opinion on Braves’ future opponents, make sure you join Bat Flips & Nerds Discord. Get involved.
8/10. Considering I came into the season as a 10/10, it’s still a step-down, but mostly for reasons out of team control. Sweeping the Cardinals, leading the NL East and generally playing good baseball across the board doesn’t give me any reason for concern.
What’s on next week?
We start with three games at home against the Reds, take a travel day on Thursday and then play another three in Kansas City. Realistically, we should be looking at a 5-1 or 6-0 week – anything less will be questioned [Editor’s note (and editor is a Reds fan): Hmmmm]. The matchup to watch this week will be the Wednesday game against the Reds, as Spencer Strider takes on Hunter Greene in a matchup of 100+ MPH flamethrowers.
UK friendly games
Saturday 15 April @ Royals (9:10pm), Sunday 16 April @ Royals (7:10pm)
Featured image of Orlando Arcia and friends at Truist Park by @Braves on Twitter.
Charlie Deeks is the Atlanta Braves correspondent on Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @Omashaft!