We’re through the first 100 games of the season and things aren’t looking too great for our Braves. Over the first 50 games the Braves played .500 baseball thanks to an offense that was scoring just over 4 runs per game. Over the last 50 games however, the Braves have seen their winning percentage drop all the way to 41% thanks to an offense that’s often struggling to score even 3 runs per game. Part of that is our good, early-season luck running out. Part of that is Freddie Freeman getting injured. Part of that is facing much tougher opponents. But no matter how you chop it up, it certainly ain’t pretty and doesn’t look to be getting any better. Luckily, the baseball gods have decided to grant us a brief reprieve in consolation for those last 50 games and have #blest us with a series against an even more horrible baseballing team. Bring on the Phillies!
As bad as the Phillies are, they’ve been on a bit of a tear since the All-Star break. They swept the Marlins, took two of three against the Rays, swept the Cubs, then just finished splitting a two game series against the Blues Jays in Toronto. Even more surprising than the simple fact that they’re 9-2 over the stretch is that it’s been due to none other than Ryan Howard and Jeff Francoeur. Together they’ve combined for 6 home runs, 16 RBI, and a .326 average. Because we’re smart sabermetricians we know hitters aren’t solely responsible for their RBI, and in this case the washed-up power pair have been helped by Odubel Herrera, Darin Ruf, and Maikel Franco setting the table each night.
On the pitching side of things, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon decided to end their Phillies careers with a bang as both of them gave vintage performances before being shipped out to greener pastures. Papelbon collected three saves in five appearances during that stretch, allowing only one run and striking out five before finding his way to the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, Hamels made Phillies history in his last start by no-hitting the Cubs at Wrigley. He struck out 13 batters while only walking one, albeit walking that one twice. It was the third no-hitter of the season and the first for Hamels, who has now been sent out to Texas in a deal with the Rangers. With that done, the Phillies truly have zero talent left on the entire 25 man roster. Why do folks watch these guys?
The stove has been hot for the Braves as well, and the latest reports have Alex Wood being sent to the Dodgers in a deal that should land us Hector Olivera. The deal also involves the Braves moving Jose Peraza, which brings me some amount of sads. But it also involves the moving of Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan, which brings me some amount of happies. Olivera is a 30 year old Cuban signed by the Dodgers for $62 million this past off-season, and is too big of an unknown for this writer to know how what kind of feels the trade brings me overall. Regardless of the return and whether or not it’s a good trade, I’ll miss seeing Alex in a Braves uniform. He was scheduled to start Saturday’s game, with Miller going out tonight and Wisler toeing the rubber on Friday. Besides Freeman and Uribe (RIP), those have been the three Braves I’ve most enjoyed watching this season and the idea of all three beating up on the Phillies had me quite excited. With both rosters in such a state of flux, and both teams so firmly in the trash bin, I think it’s now perfectly reasonable to ask them to use that Saturday game for 9 innings of BS gimmicks. Let Francoeur start, see how hard Simba can throw off a mound, ask Fredi G and Pete Mackanin if they wanna take some hacks at the plate. Just say screw it all and let the guys have a little fun. They deserve it. We deserve it.