Last Week in Atlanta – Week 19

This week we’re spoiled as usual by a Braves team that has only spent one day this year not atop the NL East. Let’s see how it went!

Overall Record: 75-42, 1st place in NL East

Record this week: 5-3

Best moment of the week:

It has to be what I’m christening as the Nicky Lopez game. The Braves absolutely demolished the Mets 21-3 in the first game of Saturday’s double header.

The game was packed with fun occurrences – it was trade deadline acquisition Lopez’s first start as a Brave, and no sooner had I spoken in some depth to my loving and patient partner about how Lopez was a low-power contact hitter, with his last home run coming in September 2021, did he then deposit a ball into the second deck at Citi Field for his fourth hit of the game. And then, as if to top it off, he pitched a scoreless ninth inning to hold the lead at 18 runs.

Quite a debut for the guy whose defense was the selling point – has Alex Anthopoulos done it again?

Worst moment of the week:

The Braves are still struggling with their starting pitching. Spencer Strider gave up six runs in the third inning on Monday, leading to his shortest start of the year – Bryce Elder remained shaky as he gave up five runs in five innings against the Pirates on Wednesday, and Yonny Chirinos showed why the Rays let him go as he was charged with six earned runs in 4⅔ innings on Sunday.

The Braves still ran their opponents close in all three of these losses, losing 7-6, 7-5 and 7-6 respectively – but the bats can only do so much. They must be nearing the time where Michael Soroka or Jared Shuster are given some more starts over Chirinos at least – his miserable Baseball Savant page tells us that he compares similarly to 2023 Patrick Corbin. No thanks. 

Yonny Chirinos’ blue period.

Player of the week:

Not content with scooping NL Player of the Week honours, Matt Olson also takes this award. He continues to mash – after adding another four home runs and ten RBI, he’s now the major league leader in both categories, overtaking baseball’s final boss Shohei Ohtani with 43 taters and pulling ahead from the chasing pack with 107 runs batted in. His current OPS+ for the season is an absurd 163, meaning he’s 63% better than the average major league hitter. Is he the best first baseman in the league? You can decide for yourself.

WTF moment of the week:

This must be one of the weirdest first major league hits of all time – with the score 18-3, against a position player, Forrest Wall pulls one along the first base line where it takes a huge hop off of the base and over the head of Pete Alonso at first. They all count though – congrats, Forrest!

Optimism tracker:

9/10 – I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the Braves pitching woes, and the team continues to be an offensive juggernaut. Putting the score any lower than this would betray too clearly the trauma I’ve felt from being a fan of the other Atlanta sports teams, so I’ll be positive here.

What’s on next week?

Next week is the start of a nine game homestand, as the Braves welcome the crippled Yankees for a three-game set, followed by a day off on Thursday and the first of two three-game series against the San Francisco Giants in quick succession. The best matchup here is Spencer Strider’s start against Alex Cobb on Friday – Spencer will be looking to build on a strong performance against the Mets on Saturday.

UK friendly games:

Sunday August 20 v Giants (6:35pm)

Featured image of Matt Olson and Hank Aaron by SportsCenter on Twitter.

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

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