For the second straight night, the Braves took a pretty heavy beating at the hands of the defending World Series Champions, and the World Series MVP had a lot to do with Wednesday night's beating. Bumgarner collected nine strikeouts over seven-and-a-third innings of work, and the Braves were never really in this one. Ryan Lavarnway brought in Atlanta's lone run of the night, so at least the Braves didn't get shutout? That's a positive, I guess?
The baseball gods have put Hard Times on Shelby Miller, daddy. The lone 2015 Atlanta Braves All-Star has been pitching well enough to live up to the label of All-Star, but his run support has been utterly pitiful. Eric took a look at this issue, and it's not pretty.
When I said that Miller has been excellent by most metrics, the one that hasn't shown his excellence is his record: 5-8 as of this writing. Yes, this pitcher who has pitched like an ace all season long is 3 games below .500 on his record for the year. If that isn't a damning indictment of the W-L statistic, then I don't know what is, but thats besides the point. The reason for this is that in Shelby's starts this year, the Braves offense has averaged 2.82 runs per game, good for the third worst support in baseball (only Jon Lester and Aaron Harang have gotten less). If you look at run support per 9 innings pitched, Shelby has gotten the absolute worst run support in baseball at 2.64.
Things are pretty dark on the field, and so far through 2015, it appears to be the same off the field as well. Liberty Media reported that the Braves' revenue so far this year is down $14 MM. Liberty put the blame on lower attendance, lower concession sales, and less home games played so far. In addition, they've borrowed $185 MM to help pay for the new stadium. You think they can't wait for 2017?
Speaking of the future, there are going to be a ridiculously high amount of new faces on this squad for not only next season, but the magical season of 2017 as well. Most of that talent will be new to the entire organization as well, as John Hart and John Coppolella continue their rapid rebuild of the Braves.
Atlanta's team-building strategy has been fairly clear from the beginning: Acquire enough young arms to not only reload the parent club's staff but also to flip for a big bat when the time was right. (Other than third-base prospect Rio Ruiz, the team did not acquire a single positional prospect regarded as a high-ceiling player.) Here's the catch: By flipping Wood in the team's three-team trade with the Dodgers and Marlins, Hart & Co. veered away from expectations, and they are taking on substantial risk in the process. Not only is the franchise betting that Hector Olivera, a 30-year-old Cuban infield prospect it fell for in the offseason before being out-bid by Los Angeles, will develop into a longtime middle-of-the-lineup bat, but also that its acquired arm talent will eventually reach Alex Wood's level ... and then higher.
So, here we are in August and the Mets have a multiple game lead in the NL East. Raise your hand if you saw this happening. I hope none of you had your hands raised, because I would've smacked them out of the air and called you a liar on the spot. But that's beside the point. The point is that the Nationals are currently in a bit of a pickle. The presumptive 2015 NL East Champions are 3-7 in their last ten games, and they're also three-and-a-half games out of the wild card. Simply put, the Nationals are struggling right now and it appears that we might be getting ready to see a dogfight for the NL East title this season. This should be interesting.
Meanwhile in the basement, the Phillies are currently killing it right now. They're 13-3 since the All-Star break, and are showing no signs of slowing down. As a matter of fact, they've gotten so hot that they might just mess around and lose out on the #1 overall pick in next year's draft. Naturally, this has Phillies fans in a weird position: Should they keep on rooting for the team to win (because winning is fun), or do they need to cut this nonsense out and start losing again (because winning in the future is also fun)?
Yes, the Phils are playing well right now, and it's been a lot of fun to watch. For the last three weeks, sitting down for three hours to watch a Phillies baseball game has actually been... enjoyable.
Imagine that. Enjoyable baseball in 2015. Who'd of thunk?
But there is a segment of the population that is worried right now. As the Phillies continue to pile up the wins, their chances of locking in the No. 1 overall pick in next year's MLB Draft is slipping away. Thanks to their hot streak, the Phils are 42-65, just one game worse than the Miami Marlins, who are 43-64.
Because of all this stupid winning, the Phils are in danger of losing their hold on that top draft pick, and the valuable slot money that goes with it.
This is causing consternation for many, but not for me. Getting the top overall pick would be nice, but there are numerous reasons why I want this baseball team to win as many games as possible here in the second half.