Atlanta Braves Daily Chop: notes and trends from the NL East

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 13: Gloves and balls are seen on the field before the Chicago Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field on April 13, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Braves defeated the Cubs 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 13: Gloves and balls are seen on the field before the Chicago Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field on April 13, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Braves defeated the Cubs 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

It’s been an interesting start to the season, for sure.  Some surprises, some bizarre events.  But now the Phillies come back to town… and the most bizarre thing is that they are in second place.

I admit it:  I had to look twice.  I thought that the Atlanta Braves were pretty much alone behind the Mets in the NL East, but yes:  after we laughed at the Phillies during their first week of bumbling bullpens and other strange behavior, they have suddenly turned themselves around to a 9-5 record.

That suddenly makes the series with them (again) in Atlanta have a bit more meaning.  12 of these first 50 games against the Phillies initially seemed like a boon for the Braves as they waited out some pending roster changes and DL heals.

Yet now, Philadelphia has improved and will come into SunTrust Park tonight with a 6 game win streak and +21 run differential – despite the earlier 15-2 shellacking at the hands of Atlanta.

Reality check:  okay, yeah… it’s true:  the last 9 games they’ve played have been against the Marlins, Reds, and Rays… three clubs with a collective record of 9-36.  But hey – 6 consecutive wins is enough to get a team’s confidence going, so the Braves shouldn’t assume that the Phils will just roll over.

Let’s check some notes from around the division.

Mets Looking Big for Catching Help

The Braves had both of their starting catchers on the shelf for a while… so do the Mets, though those injuries are more serious (and they didn’t exactly have a lot of production coming from the position anyway).  How serious?

How about this for an ironic twist:  after multiple years of floundering due to injuries, there’s a way that the Mets could actually get better – a lot better – thanks to their catcher injuries:

Realmuto is about to come off rehab duty for his injury (he recently went 3 for 3 with a homer… I’d say he’s close).

Another name being floated from multiple pundits in potential trade scenarios is that of Brandon Nimmo (plus more)  to Miami.  This would make sense for the Mets due to their over-crowded outfield situation.  It would also make sense for the Marlins given what they gave away during the Winter.

Frankly, with the Mets’ hot start, I would be inclined to give the Marlins just about anything they wanted for Realmuto:  it would put them in a position to crush the division.

There are other options – and opinions – though:

Such would be an example of the Mets ‘doing Mets things’.  But if you’ve got a chance to go for the jugular in a battle for your life – you take it and don’t wait for the Nationals to figure out what they’re doing.

The Braves and the Roster

April 13th and 14th were supposed to be interesting dates for the future of the Braves… the date that Daniel Winkler became an official Brave and no longer subject to Rule 5 draft considerations.  That part happened.

Honestly, I also expected that Winkler might be sent down to the minors, possibly to make way for Ronald Acuna, Jr.  That part not only hasn’t happened, but is likely not happening.

You see, Winkler is throwing better than most of his comrades in the bullpen:  12+ K/9, 3.38 BB/9, 2.25 ERA in 8 innings/7 appearances.

In the meantime, there’s a couple of players still sitting at Gwinnett and awaiting call-ups:

  • Johan Camargo – 21 plate appearances, .158 average, 6 K, 3 BB in 5 games.  Oddly, he has but 3 hits so far and all of these are homers.
  • Ronald Acuna, Jr. – 36 PA’s, .152 average, 12K, 3 BB in 8 games.  He has one extra-base hit (a double).

So neither one is exactly in form at the moment.  That said, Acuna’s arrival has at least been prepared for with the DFA of Luke Jackson over the weekend… though his promotion is not imminent:

Camargo would be up sooner, but there’s this pesky problem called ‘Ryan Flaherty‘.  The dude is hitting .366(!) with a 153 (!) wRC+.

Meanwhile, Preston Tucker is hitting a cool .300 with a team-leading (tied) 12 RBI.  So sure – we expect Acuna and Camargo to be better… but which is the riskier move right now for a team that’s already over-achieving?

What’s Wrong in Washington?

The Nationals are now 7-9, and under water in run differential (-4).  Their problems?

More from Tomahawk Take

  • Adam Eaton, while hitting a ton (.345) is still hurting from his knee injury of 2017, though he’s currently out due to a ‘left ankle bone bruise’
  • Daniel Murphy – still isn’t back… maybe will be in April
  • Matt Weiters got an oblique strain – but was no different from what he’s ever been otherwise.
  • Their first basemen (Ryan Zimmerman, .122 and Matt Adams, .185) aren’t producing
  • Michael Taylor (.193) is not repeating his successes from 2017 (.271, 19 HR)
  • Perhaps most shockingly, Trea Turner is off to a horrible start, despite equal impact on walks and strikeouts (19.2% rates for each).  He’s hitting just .203

In short, the team is currently being carried by Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg.  On most nights, that hasn’t been enough.

Next: Acuna Watch, Day 3

TONIGHT:  Julio Teheran gets another crack at the Phillies.  We’ll roll those dice and see how this goes, starting at 7:35pm.