Well, the offense looks like it’s going to be fun this year. It doesn’t look like the pitching staff has magically learned to throw strikes yet, however.
The Braves may have built their team around young pitching, but the real strength of the team seems to be its defense. 13 different players started games for them last year, and they had 30+ make relief appearances.
I’ll use the teams’ 2018 numbers here (excluding injured/departed players), since looking at a bunch of zeros is boring.
- OBP: Ben Zobrist (.378)
- ISO: El Mago (.264)
- HR: Baez (34)
- R+RBI: Baez (212)
- wRC+: Baez (131)
- BSR: Jason Heyward (4.3)
- DRS: Albert Almora (9)
- SP K/9: Yu Darvish (11.03)
- SP BB/9: Kyle Hendricks (1.99)
- SP FIP: Cole Hamels (3.42)
- RP FIP: Carl Edwards Jr (11.60)
- RP BB/9: Pedro Strop (3.17)
- RP FIP: Edwards (2.93)
- WAR: Baez (5.3)
- OBP: Freddie Freeman (.388)
- ISO: Ronald Acuña (.259)
- HR: Acuña (26)
- R+RBI: Freeman (192)
- wRC+: Acuña (143)
- BSR: Ender Inciarte (6.1)
- DRS: Inciarte (17)
- SP K/9: Mike Foltynewicz (13.50)
- SP BB/9: Folty (3.34)
- SP FIP: Folty (3.37)
- RP K/9: Sam Freeman (10.37)
- RP BB/9: Dan Wilnker (2.98)
- RP FIP: A.J. Minter (2.72)
- WAR: Freeman (5.2)
Injuries, transactions, vengenace pacts, etc.
The Braves made a big splash this offseason by signing Josh Donaldson to a 1 year, $23m deal. He’s gone one for twelve so far in his Barves career, so I guess that’s enough to call that signing a bust. They might as well release him before the game, it’s a sunk cost.
Folty is on the IL (this still feels strange to write) with elbow soreness, which are two words a team never likes to see. The same goes for shoulder inflammation on A.J. Minter and Kevin Gausman. That’s two of their best pitchers and Kevin Gausman.
Projected K/9, BB/9, ERA listed for each pitcher.
Thursday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (7.54, 2.19, 3.72) vs Sean Newcomb, LHP (8.79, 4.28, 4.16), 6:10 pm CT
Hendricks is coming off a big extension, and hopefully he can provide the Cubs with some hope that at least one of their pitchers isn’t going to walk a billion guys.
Newcomb has a good fastball, the rest is still a work in progress. He got off to a great start last year until teams started to sit on his fastball.
Saturday: Jon Lester, LHP (7.71, 2.91, 4.09) vs Julio Teheran, RHP (7.95, 3.84, 4.61), 6:20 PM CT
It’s hard to believe that Teheran has been in the league for six full seasons already. He’s had terrible peripherals the last two seasons, mostly due to a tendency towards the long ball. While the ball is in play though, the Braves defense does him a lot of favors. He posted a hilariously low .217 BABIP last season.
Lester was just fine in his opening day start. I think the Cubs would be pretty happy with ‘just fine’ for 31 more starts.
Sunday: Yu Darvish, RHP (10.53, 3.59, 3.99) vs Max Fried, LHP (8.98, 5.10, 4.45), 6:20 PM CT
Darvish was pretty much the opposite of ‘just fine’ in his first start of the year. Who knows if it was after effects of the blister he suffered in late spring training, or nerves in facing his former team. Based on all the stories out of the spring he’s not ‘broken’ but he’ll certainly have to do better than this.
Fried has mostly been working out of the pen and probably won’t go deep in this one. He’s a guy with big strikeout and big walk numbers all through his career, so this could be a long night.