I am no math expert, but I do feel using this equation to describe a baseball roster and season is never good:
Frequent Attrition + Sharp Regression =’s Persistent Frustration.
Last night’s game was the latest accurate microcosm of Atlanta’s season as a whole.
- Tucker Davidson leaves game with injury concerns following alarming velocity drops.
- The Braves offense sparked a comeback, but the bullpen’s ineffectiveness once again resulted in a disappointing loss.
Rinse, wash, repeat.
Though the injuries have been to a level no one could have prepared for this season, the ineffectiveness has been just as alarming. The Braves have simply transformed from one of best teams in close games in the majors over the past few years to one of the worst this season. The fact that the bullpen has regressed from being arguably a top five unit to end 2019 and throughout 2020 to now being arguably a bottom five unit has been a never-ending nightmare this year.
And though the season is far from over, the Braves struggles are continuing to emerge far too frequently in the middle of one of their most critical stretches of the season. They are now four games under .500 and 6 1⁄2 games behind the Mets in the NL East, with six games against the Mets between now and July 1st. Though this certainly could present a way for the Braves to turn their season around, it is going to take a drastic uptick in performance to happen.
Of course, at the risk of sounding cliché, every drastic turnaround in baseball history likely has began the same way: winning one game. Sure, the Braves won on Sunday. But winning today means they have won two out their last three, and also means a series split with one of the better teams in baseball. Yes, this perspective may seem pathetic, but at this point, any perspective that is positive matters.
Fortunately, the Braves will have arguably their best starter on the mound in Ian Anderson. Though his overall numbers are certainly impressive this season, Anderson has experienced his own ups and downs. He was absolutely spectacular in his last start against the Phillies, but struggled by allowing eight runs over 8 1⁄3 innings in the two starts before that. Unfortunately, all three starts resulted in a loss. Hopefully, Anderson can put together two consecutive strong performances, as Atlanta could really use some innings and a quality start to support its bullpen.
Anderson also has a chance to match a pretty fun feat tonight that he accomplished in his first two career starts last year. He defeated the Yankees during his major league debut in Atlanta, and then beat the Red Sox in his next start in Boston. This season, Anderson has already beat the Yankees in New York. The Braves certainly hope Anderson can go 4-0 against the two AL East heavyweights over the past year.
Garrett Richards will take the mound for the Red Sox. Richards will likely surpass his largest single season innings pitched total since 2015 over his next two starts (at least Atlanta hopes it happens in his next start.) Richards has been one of the many reasons the Red Sox have had somewhat surprising success this season. Through 13 starts, Richards is 4-4 with a 4.09 ERA. However, he also has produced a 3.83 FIP and Boston is 6-3 over his last 9 starts. With their highly productive offense, Richards is doing exactly what is needed of him nearly every time he takes the mound: he gives Boston the chance to win.
That is all the Braves can ask of Ian Anderson as well, simply that he gives them a chance to win. The Braves continue to make games interesting, creating opportunities where it seems they can really make a positive impact on the game. However, far more times than not, they fail to make the most of these moments. At some point, Atlanta must reverse that trend.
Their season could truly depend on that reversal happening much sooner than later.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, June 16th, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network