Welcome to the newest feature of BS.com, where I will break down the Braves’ performance week-by-week as we get closer to summer. Major League Baseball has too many games to break down each one individually, so every Thursday, I will analyze the last seven days while preparing for Atlanta’s weekend series.
Braves’ current record: 2-4 (T-4 in NL East, 2 games behind Washington Nationals and New York Mets)
April 5: Lost 1-0 at NY Mets
April 7: Lost 4-2 at NY Mets
April 8: Lost 7-5 at NY Mets
April 9: Lost 8-3 at Houston Astros
April 10: Won 6-4 at Houston Astros
April 11: Won 6-3 at Houston Astros
The Braves haven’t scored more than six runs in a game so far this year. It’s not necessarily a reason to hit the panic button, but when an “offensive outburst” is only half a dozen runs in nine innings, the lineup needs to do better. Their last two games have helped overcome the awful performances of the first four games of the year, and that might be due, in part, to the return of third baseman Chipper Jones. In his first two games of the season, Chipper went 4-for-9 at the plate, including a home run in Tuesday night’s win.
The most disconcerting performance of the week (and a big reason why the offense has been sputtering) came from leadoff hitter Michael Bourn. The center fielder has just three hits in 24 at-bats, which translates to a .125 batting average (and only two runs scored — a major red flag).
The Braves signed Juan Francisco for his bat, not his glove. That made perfect sense after watching his three-error performance Monday night. In all, the Braves made six errors in the opening week of the season, which isn’t alarmingly bad. It isn’t good, either. Luckily, the return of Chipper Jones has moved Francisco back to the bench, where he can focus more on hitting — a good sign, since he’s just 1-for-10 at the plate so far this year.
As a staff, the Braves rank 21st in the majors with a combined 4.32 ERA. That’s twice the ERA of the Philadelphia Phillies. Should the Braves’ staff be expected to keep up with the stellar arms of the Phillies? No … but they are going to get left in the dust if they can’t lower their ERA as the season goes on.
The Braves’ staff is allowing hitters to bat .312 against them, which is the worst in the league (the San Francisco Giants are second-to-last with an opposing batting average of .293). If the Braves can’t get more people out, they won’t be able to climb out of fourth place in a division that can really hit. The only reason why I didn’t give the pitching a lower grade was because the staff was pitching from behind early in games a lot this week, making each pitcher’s task even tougher.
The bottom line — this team needs to do a better collective job of executing, or the first week will become less of an aberration and more of a trend.
The week ahead:
Friday: Milwaukee Brewers, 7:35 p.m.
Saturday: Milwaukee Brewers, 7:10 p.m.
Sunday: Milwaukee Brewers, 1:35 p.m.
Monday: NY Mets, 7:10 p.m.
Tuesday: NY Mets, 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday: NY Mets, 12:10 p.m.