A slow restart after the All-Star break seems to be over for the Braves with a three-game rout of the Milwaukee Brewers. Can the Braves recapture their June form going forward into August?
Overall Record: 67-36, 1st place in NL East
Record this week: 3-2
Best moment of the week:
The Braves really turned on the jets at the plate against the Brewers. After a very busy All-Star break there was a little lag getting back into things with series losses to the White Sox, Diamondbacks and Red Sox – but the Brewers seemed to be a good team to get back on track against. In their sweep the Braves scored 29 runs in three games, with Matt Olson, Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna combining for nine home runs in the series.
There were a couple of milestones hit during the series, too – Matt Olson took the league lead in RBI – he’s currently at 89 RBI with 58 games left. That means he’s on track for 138 RBI, putting him in with a real chance of breaking the franchise record for RBI in a season. It’s an old record, too – set in 1894, the year after the mound was moved back to 60 feet, six inches. That year Hall-of-Famer Hugh Duffy notched 145 RBI and hit .440 (!!) for the Boston Beaneaters.
Ronald Acuña Jr. stole his 50th base, putting him second in single-season team history, behind Otis Nixon’s 72 in 1991. He’s on track for 37 HRs and 79 stolen bases – a stupid set of numbers. A little burst of power somewhere down the stretch should put him in line for a historic 40/40 season.
Worst moment of the week:
The Braves had one of those series where they seemed like they didn’t really wake up against the Red Sox, with the worst game coming on Tuesday as they went a miserable 1-8 with runners in scoring position on the way to a 7-1 loss. Charlie Morton also continued to be seriously off and on – his success is almost always tied to how well he’s spinning his curveball that day, and with it not performing he failed to make it through the fourth inning.
Player of the week:
I’m guilty of not giving pitchers the love they deserve – but this week, I’m going to give the award to Bryce Elder. Somehow, all year, Bryce has been putting up excellent numbers, with an 8-2 record and a 3.18 ERA in 21 starts. This is despite some concerning peripheral stats – he’s sitting at a good, but not great, 4.16 FIP – a measure that takes fielding out of the equation for pitchers, showing that he’s really benefited from having an elite defense behind him. His other in-depth metrics aren’t all that good either, as the smattering of blue on his Baseball Savant page shows:
But what matters is results – and he’s getting them. He pitched seven excellent innings to put the game beyond the Brewers (despite the efforts of very low-percentage Immaculate Grid answer Taylor Hearn’s 0.1 IP, 4 earned run performance in relief).
WTF moment of the week:
WTF are the Red Sox doing here?! This is the first triple play the Braves have turned since 2004.
9/10 – It’s telling that despite a string of series losses, I’m still confident in the team. It’ll be great to finally get Max Fried back, and we’ve got Alex Anthopoulos who’ll probably manage to make magic happen at the trade deadline (maybe by trading a player they’d just acquired for cash for someone who put up 6 fWAR in 2021?).
What’s on next week?
This week we’re looking forward to a three game set with future Brave Shohei Ohtani and his Angels, followed by another three at Wrigley against former Brave Dansby Swanson and his Cubs. The matchup of the week has to be Max Fried’s long-awaited return this weekend after some strong rehab starts – exact date still TBC. There are also a whopping four UK-friendly Braves games!
UK friendly games:
Wednesday 2 August v Angels (5:20pm), Friday 4 August @ Cubs (7:20pm), Saturday 5 August @ Cubs (7:20pm), Sunday 6 August @ Cubs (7:20pm)
Featured image of Matt Olson by @Braves on Twitter/X.
Charlie Deeks is the Atlanta Braves correspondent on Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @Omashaft!