Last Week in Atlanta – Week 4

It’s not only the Braves that got hit by delays this week, as this column comes at you a little later than usual. Atlanta were one inning away from another perfect week, albeit one with two washouts – but was there anything else that caught this writer’s eye?

Overall record: 18-9, 1st place in NL East

Record this week: 4-1

Best moment of the week:

The Braves 11-0 demolition of the Marlins had everything – a dominant Spencer Strider outing (more on how dominant that was later!), a day off for the bullpen, and thirty total bases and five home runs for Braves bats, including two for Sam Hilliard, who is outperforming expectations this year. Marcell Ozuna even went 0-4 with three strikeouts, so we know everything was right with the world in this game. These games which feel like foregone conclusions from the first inning are rare, but we should appreciate them whenever they come around.

Worst moment of the week:

The Braves had one loss this week, and it was a heartbreaker. Going into the top of the ninth, the Braves looked comfortable at 4-0 up, and had a fresh A.J. Minter on to close. Alas, like the previous week, he looked overmatched as the Marlins plated five runs – all earned by Minter – to take a narrow lead. Atlanta’s bats couldn’t overcome Dylan Floro, and the Marlins narrowly avoided the sweep. The Braves are now looking at the bullpen – a presumed area of strength coming into the season – as probably their second biggest weakness after left field. The presumed return of Raisel Iglesias from the injured list this week should help.

Player of the week:

For the second week in a row, we’re going pitcher here! Spencer Strider spun yet another gem as he dismantled the Marlins on Monday. He pitched eight innings, giving up just two hits and no walks. His 91 Game Score was the second highest in the MLB this year, just behind Gerrit Cole’s complete game shutout on 16 April – and it was the best by a non-Strider Brave since Mike Foltynewicz threw a complete game shutout in 2018. Strider’s domination of hitters late into games is made all the more impressive by the fact he only has two pitches – batters know what they’re getting, but he’s so good it really doesn’t matter.

WTF moment of the week:

It’s a sad day for fans of the big hat, as New Era have heroically protected their exclusive on-field hat rights by nixing the Braves’ home run celebration. Last seen in the bullpen in Monday’s 11-0 drubbing of the Marlins, the big hat is no more – we await the emergence of the new celebration with bated breath. 

View from the other side:

We are honoured to have input from the almost-world-famous Peter Pratt of “Locked on Marlins” and Miami Marlins UK.

“Strider, bombs and blown saves! That sums up the first Marlins / Braves series of 2023. Braves deservedly took the series 3-1, with the long ball causing series damage to the Marlins’ pitching. Spencer Strider had a perfecto going in his start, and was absolutely phenomenal. Braves bullpen still sorting itself out in the early going, AA likely will be looking to add nearer the deadline. Former Marlins, Marcell Ozuna was hearing plenty of boo birds, intrigued to see if he makes it through the entire 2023 season, or whether that relationship is severed early.”

You can follow Peter on Twitter @MiamiMarlins_UK

Optimism tracker:

We remain at 8/10 this week. The Braves had a good win (thanks rain!) over the Mets and took the games they needed to take off the Marlins. While it was mostly a good week, the loss to the Marlins soured me a little, so I’m not going any higher for now.

What’s on next week?

The Braves make up a doubleheader caused by rain delays against the Mets on Monday, followed by three more games against the Marlins and three against the tricky Orioles, who have – out of nowhere – been tearing it up, sitting at second place in the American League. The matchup of the week is less a matchup, and more of a glorious return – rumours abound that the Maple Maddux himself Michael Soroka will be making his long-awaited return to the bigs on Friday. It’s been a long road back for him, with his last major league start coming on August 3rd 2020. We’ll be rooting hard for him.

UK friendly games:

Monday May 1 @ Mets (6:10pm), Thursday 4 May @ Marlins (9:10pm), Sunday 7 May vs Orioles (4:35pm)

Featured image of Spencer Strider by @Braves on Twitter.

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

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