Freddie Freeman stared off into the distance, oblivious to the world around him. A few feet away, Tony Cingrani delivered a pitch to Alberto Callaspo that landed in Jay Bruce’s glove in right field. His face was blank–emotionless. It was the stare of a man who had seen heartbreak or war, not the look of a young man in the prime of his career. Shelby Miller roused him from his daze as the now 15-19 Braves headed back to clubhouse.
Despite their upbeat nature and previously sunny dispositions, the Braves all knew they were supposed to be bad this year. Well, perhaps Gomes–sweet Jonny Gomes–didn’t know, he was full of false bravado and irrational confidence. But this…they didn’t expect this. After setting the world on fire in early April, getting two-hit by some Cincinnati rookie didn’t seem possible. Losing five of six to the lowly Reds and struggling Nationals, getting swept by the Mets and dropping series to the geriatric Phils–it wasn’t supposed to happen. Not after retooling for grit, ‘tact, and all the intangibles and clubhouse presence one could possibly want. Maybe they’d been wrong. Maybe slugging .327 for a week at a time wouldn’t work out, whether they only struck out 15% of the time or not.
“Never mind that,” thought Freddie, as he packed up in anticipation of the off day. “We’ll take the day off, get some R&R, and get back out there and beat the Fish. They’re just shitty.” With a smile on his face, he pulled up the standings on his phone as he left for the team bus. Suddenly, he dropped his bags in abject horror:
The Marlins sat a half game up on the Braves. As it turned out, Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t going to be horrible the whole year, and while he had a measly .067 ISO when they last met, he’d hit like the Giancarlo Stanton we all know and love since early April. Sure, he was still hitting 20% below his career numbers, but 8 homers and a .571 slugging percentage since that last series against Atlanta is the type of wrath, havoc, and general destruction one comes to expect from Stanton.
“Ah, but the pitching is bad. I should be able to feast upon their very souls,” Freddie thought as he picked up his bags and made his way aboard the bus.
Little did he know that after a few early season bumps, David Phelps (2.98 FIP) and Mat Latos (3.49 FIP) had found their footing, stringing together several good outings. Even Tom Koehler had his moments, provided he wasn’t getting lit the hell up by Bryce Harper.
No, the cards were very much stacked against Atlanta. Even with Shelby Miller facing off against Koehler in game three of the series, the robots only gave the Braves a coin flip’s chance of winning the game. The Braves had started hot, and had just begun to face the reality of their long and miserable season. As summer approached the days would grow longer and stretch into the night, and with each passing day the Braves would draw closer to the nadir of their suffering, crumpling and wilting under the boiling Atlanta heat. But Freddie wasn’t ready to accept this. As he gazed out the bus window, he dreamed of a better tomorrow, once again oblivious to the weight of the misery surrounding him. He smiled, ever hopeful, watching traffic whiz by on the other side of the road like so many ground balls past his outstretched glove.
Here’s your infographic. I am obviously quite optimistic about a series win.