Last Week in Atlanta – Week 3

Holy regression, Batman! Atlanta has come up against a tough schedule this week, but there are certainly some diamonds in what has been a rough week.

Overall Record: 14-8, 1st place in NL East

Record this week: 2-4

Best moment of the week:

Spencer Strider hit yet another milestone, as he joined hall-of-famer John Smoltz in recording the most consecutive nine (or more) strikeout games as a Brave. In major league history, the only pitchers to register more consecutive starts than Strider with nine or more strikeouts are Dwight Gooden, Pedro Martinez (twice!), Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, Chris Sale and Nolan Ryan – pretty good company. Strider has now tallied exactly nine K’s in each game in 2023, and is looking sharper and sharper with every start.

Worst moment of the week:

The series against Houston seems to have been payback for the 2021 World Series (to some extent). Yordan Alvarez was on fire – certainly not the case in 2021 as he went 2-for-20 in the six games – and the Night Shift became a nightmare as A.J. Minter took the loss in two of the three games. It’s the first time the Braves have been swept this year, and the first time they’ve lost four in a row since they dropped four to the Rockies and the Giants in September 2021.

Player of the week:

The Braves bats have hit for a combined .192 this week (which, to be fair, is almost three times higher than Marcell Ozuna), so we turn to the pitchers – and there’s a no-brainer. Max Fried turned in five scoreless innings on Monday to take the win against the Padres, and then hurled a further 6.2 innings of no-run ball in a no-decision against the Astros on Sunday. To turn in those performances against two of the best batting lineups in the majors is to be commended, and after being limited to 80 pitches in his first start since his hamstring injury on opening day, Fried battled his way to 107 pitches against Houston. He’s fully healthy, and performing like the ace he is.

WTF moment of the week:

Ronald Acuña Jr. just wants to have fun. Here he is pimping… a home run? A walk off? No, he’s pimping scoring on a throwing error that went into the Astros’ dugout. I love it, Braves Country loves it, and Ronnie loves it. Baseball at its best.

View from the other side:

Alas, we did not manage to track down an Astros or Padres fan who wanted to give balance to this article. Maybe we will have more luck with Marlins or Mets fans for next week.

Optimism tracker:

8/10. The results weren’t great, but there are things to like. Most of the games this week were tight against elite opposition, where an average batting performance would likely have taken the Braves over the line. Acuña is still hitting at a .374 clip for the season with 12 steals, which leads the league, and the starting pitching has generally been pretty solid. This week will be a great bellwether, though divisional games are always a little strange.

What’s on next week?

The Braves have a full set of divisional games next week, with the Marlins in town for four games with a quick jaunt to New York for three games to close out the week against the Mets. The best of the pitching matchups this week comes on Wednesday, as Bryce Elder and his 1.14 ERA faces last year’s unanimous Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, who’s been off to a rocky start so far this year.

UK friendly games:

Thursday 27 April vs Marlins (5:20pm), Saturday 29 April @ Mets (9:05pm), Sunday 30 April @ Mets (6:40pm)

Featured image of Ronald Acuña Jr. from @Braves on Twitter.

Charlie Deeks is the Atlanta Braves correspondent on Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @Omashaft!

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