Last Week in Atlanta – Week 10

This was the week defined by the comeback – a flurry of late runs in three of the six games this week gave the Braves two much needed series wins over divisional rivals. 

Overall Record: 40-25, 1st place in NL East

Record this week: 5-1

Best moment of the week: 

The Braves have shown some real resilience this week to grind out five wins against good opposition. One of the reasons they’ve managed to get there is that the hitting lineup is now performing from top to bottom. Orlando Arcia is back in a big way, having hit an excellent .455 over the course of the week – and Michael Harris II is coming out of his lengthy slump as he hit .303 with a huge two-run jack on Tuesday to put the Braves up for good over the Mets. The Braves are getting offensive production out of every position in the lineup now, and if they continue to do that they look to be the team to beat in the National League.

Worst moment of the week:

Despite an all-round good week, Braves starters left something to be desired. Over the course of the week the Braves didn’t manage any quality starts (six or more innings pitched with three or fewer runs allowed), and Spencer Strider especially had a poor outing as he was taken out of his start after four innings and eight earned runs (though Justin Verlander only managed three innings on the opposite side!). Those issues were mitigated by strong bullpen performances, but after the slew of injuries that have hit the Braves rotation earlier in the year they’ll be keeping a close eye on their starters moving forward. Don’t be surprised to see Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos make a move for a starter at the trade deadline. 

Player of the week:

When you think of the top relievers in the game, you probably think of people like Emmanuel Clase, Paul Sewald and Ryan Pressly – but who has a higher WAR than all of those players combined? That’s right – ageless wonder and Braves clubhouse leader Jesse Chavez. He’s much more than just the most traded man in MLB history – Jesse is the sixth-best reliever by WAR in the MLB this year, and trails only Michael King of the Yankees and Yennier Cano of the Orioles in WAR among non-closers.

This week, he worked his way out of two huge jams. The first was of his own making – after a single and two walks against the Mets, who were leading 10-9 in the top of the ninth – Jesse struck out Omar Narvaez and Mark Vientos in quick succession to hand it back to the Braves hitters, who would jo on to win 13-10 in ten innings. Even more impressively, he would come in to relieve Jared Shuster against the Nationals on Saturday, who had put players on first and second with no outs. Chavez struck out two and induced an inning-ending ground ball to leave two stranded, and preserve the Braves lead. Jesse is a 16 year veteran with no All-Star appearances to his name – might that be about to change? Peter Moylan makes a great case.

WTF moment of the week: 

From a purely broadcasting point of view, the Braves home broadcast booth on 9 June against the Mets was a shambles. There was basically no play-by-play, innings would come to an end with silence in the booth and for half the time the game wasn’t discussed at all. But from every other point of view – this was a triumph. Brandon Gaudin – who has been doing a brilliant job taking over from Chip Caray as the play-by-play guy this year – took the day off, and Jeff Francoeur was joined in the booth by an inimitable lineup of John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Chipper Jones. They were excellent. As one might imagine from a bunch of greats that played alongside each other for years, they told stories, took the mick out of each other and watched the game as if they were sitting on the sofa with you. The two highlights for me were the cameo appearance from Greg Maddux over the phone in the fourth inning, and Frenchy’s Hawk Harrelson impersonation – but every minute is worth watching. 

View from the other side:

In lieu of another writer here, this week I’m giving this slot to Pete Alonso. After a big home run against Bryce Elder on Monday, he shared his views on the pitch from the dugout. I’m all for a good chirp from the sidelines – but you’ve got to follow it up.

If you’d like to give your opinion on your team’s series against the Braves, let me know! I’d love to have you as a guest writer for this section. 

Optimism tracker:

8/10. This week was much better – two tricky divisional opponents beaten, with some gritty late-inning heroics. While the starting pitching faltered a little, some really strong outings by the bullpen and clutch hitting pulled the Braves through. Those are the sort of performances we’re going to want to see in the playoffs – winning at any cost. 

What’s on next week?

It’s a full week, as we start with three games in Detroit from Monday to Wednesday, and then a four-game set against the Rockies at home from Thursday to Sunday. There aren’t really any big name matchups this week on the pitching front, so instead I’ll be keeping an eye on AJ Smith-Shawver’s second career start on Thursday against Colorado’s Kyle Freeland

UK friendly games: 

Wednesday 14 June @ Tigers (6:10pm), Saturday 17 June v Rockies (9:10pm), Sunday 18 June v Rockies (6:35pm)

(editor’s note – thanks to rain on Tuesday, the Wednesday game against the Tigers is now a double header – so that’s a full evening of UK friendly baseball!)

Featured image of Jesse Chavez by Grant McAuley on Twitter.

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

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