Matt Wisler gave it a valiant effort on Thursday afternoon against the Dodgers, as the 23-year-old went 6.1 innings, struck out two, walked two, and only gave up one run over 115 pitches against Los Angeles. He went toe-to-toe with Clayton Kershaw, who managed to limit the Braves to one run despite not being at his best (which is still pretty good, clearly). It ended up coming down to extra innings, and that's finally when the Dodgers broke through and were able to get the run that would send Atlanta to their second consecutive defeat.
The Braves' infield defense hasn't been good this season, but part of the reason could be the state of the infield itself. According to ESPN, the conditions of the infield have gotten so bad that the Braves are considering linking up with the players' union to possibly file a complaint about it. While the immediate reaction would be to think that this could just be the Braves scrambling to make excuses for bad defensive play, Yasmani Grandal of the Dodgers seemed to indicate that they may agree with the home team, here.
The source speculated that with the Braves leaving Turner Field for a new stadium after this season, the playing surface is not being treated with the same meticulous care as in the past and that the problem areas are the uneven grass and the unpredictable area where the turf meets the infield dirt.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal was asked if there was talk among the Dodgers players about the condition of the infield.
"We talked about it," Grandal said after a long pause. "Behind home plate, I felt it was very soft. But then again, it's not our home field. It all depends on how the infielders like it here. We just have to adjust to every playing field we go to and make plays. Obviously it was a little hard for us the last two days, making a couple of errors, but that's all right."
One player who's been swinging a conspicuously silent bat so far is Freddie Freeman. Despite the fact that he's entered the season on a healthy note, Freeman's started this campaign on a major slump. It's something that the Braves simply can't afford to go through if they want to have something even approaching a respectable offensive lineup.
...Sometimes exhibition woes provide accurate foreshadowing. Freeman is batting .163 with a team-leading 16 strikeouts. There are 13 Braves with higher batting averages. Two of them are pitchers.
This is somebody who entered the season with career-season averages of .285, 21 homers and 85 RBIs. But through 15 games, Freeman has one homer and four RBIs, and he put the punctuation on Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles with a lazy fly out to center field, as the potential tying run stood at third base. (He’s now 5-for-21, or .238, with runners on base.)
When the Braves picked up Eric O'Flaherty from the Pittsburgh Pirates, there was hope that EOF could possibly rekindle some of the magic that he left here when he departed back in 2012. Unfortunately, things haven't gone right at all for O'Flaherty this season, and the Braves may be beginning to see why Pittsburgh was so eager to let go of the reliever.
With Williams Perez being sent down to AAA, a spot has opened up in the Braves' rotation, and it could be filled by Aaron Blair. After he spent much of last season in AAA, it's basically been a matter of when, not if Blair will make his MLB debut this year. The "when" could very well be this Sunday, after Blair's dazzling performance for the G-Braves impressed the front office and managerial staff.
Blair, 23, pitched seven hitless innings Tuesday against Durham, with 10 strikeouts and one walk, and would be on regular rest if he faces the Mets on Sunday. ([Mike] Foltynewicz would be on one extra day of rest).
"(Blair) pitched real well — seven innings of no-hit baseball," Gonzalez said. "We had a real big discussion after the game yesterday. And (president of baseball operations) John Hart was there and watched (Blair) pitch, said he was real good."
Blair has been one of the International League’s top pitchers in the early part of the season, going 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA and microscopic 0.79 WHIP (walks-plus-hits per inning pitched) in three starts. He has allowed just 10 hits and five walks while collecting 22 strikeouts in 19 innings.
The Chicago Cubs absolutely annihilated the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night, as they put a 16-0 beatdown on the board. Kris Bryant hit two home runs in this contest -- one of them being a grand slam that made it 13-0 in the seventh inning.
As if the offensive onslaught wasn't bad enough for Cincy, they got no-hit by the reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. If you want an extreme example of the wide gulf in talent between "Haves" like the Cubs and "Have-Nots" like the Reds, then this was it.