Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday Roundup - Roster Beginning to Take Shape

The Atlanta Braves had a much better week of games than the previous horrorfest which included just one win. Let's recap the week and who helped and hurt himself the most.
From the Fort Bragg luncheon. By Sgt. anthony hewitt
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

PIRATES 6, Braves 3

Matt Wisler was a longshot heading into this spring after the offseason acquisition of three new starters. So far this spring, Wisler's play has helped to reinforce that the Braves were right to think they needed starting depth. With the Braves up 3-2, Wisler gave up three runs, including surrendering a homer to Jose Osuna. Offensively, the Braves were led by two-hit games from Jace Peterson, Anthony Recker, and Micah Johnson. Recker and Travis Demeritte each added their first doubles of the spring. Jaime Garcia started and though he gave up a two-run homer to Austin Meadows, Garcia settled in to strike out four over three innings. Jim Johnson and Arodys Vizcaino each worked sketchy innings with Johnson allowing an unearned run while Vizcaino surrendered three hits (but no runs).

Who helped himself the most? M. Johnson
Who hurt himself the most? Wisler

BRAVES 3, Phillies 2

Braves snap a losing streak after Micah Johnson tripled in Rio Ruiz in the seventh inning to put the Braves on top. Johnson had also scored the Braves' first run after coming around on a Nick Markakis double that also plated Brandon Phillips. On the mound, Bartolo Colon was solid and efficient, working three innings and allowing just one single. Sean Newcomb, in his final outing before being reassigned to the minor league camp, worked two scoreless with four strikeouts. Jose Ramirez walked one in his quiet frame while Ian Krol set the Phillies down in the ninth for the save.

Who helped himself the most? M. Johnson
Who hurt himself the most? Ruiz (0-for-2, BB, K)

Yankees 8, BRAVES 7

Big innings have been a theme during many Braves losses and this one was no different. With a 2-1 lead handed to Blaine Boyer after Aaron Blair and John Danks shared the first five frames, Boyer continued his rough spring by retiring just one of the eight batters he faced - and that came via a sacrifice bunt. Eric O'Flaherty entered and got out of the frame, but six runs were in. After O'Flaherty, who gave up a run in his 1.2 innings of work, Chaz Roe entered and had his first decent outing of the spring, though he still loaded the bases before getting a strikeout. Danks also had a decent outing, surrendering two hits and walking one over 2.1 innings. The Braves would fight back to score three in the sixth and two in the ninth on a pair of Matt Tuiasosopo homers, but could not make the final push. With no right-handed bat off the bench, Tuiasosopo has a shot to impress the Braves this spring and potentially break camp with the team. Also of note was that Ozzie Albies played in his first game since fracturing his elbow last September during the Southern League playoffs. He singled and scored on a double in the first inning.

Who helped himself the most? Tuiasosopo
Who hurt himself the most? Boyer

BRAVES 5, Mets 2

Both teams wasted several opportunities, but despite leaving ten runners on base, the Braves still prevail with the aid of three homers. Matt Tuiasosopo blasted his third homer in two days while Brandon Phillips and Adonis Garcia each homered for the first time this spring. Johan Camargo continued his hot hitting with a pair of hits, including a triple, while Rio Ruiz also added two hits and a double. On the mound, Lucas Sims got the start and held his own against a Mets lineup without many regulars in it. Of particular importance was that he didn't walk a batter in his three innings. Josh Collmenter continued his strong pitching with two scoreless while Jim Johnson, Arodys Vizcaino, Max Fried, and Luke Jackson each finished with a scoreless inning. Jackson has quietly had a strong spring, though he's rarely faced major league hitters. Still, with a lot of games still left to be played, Jackson has performed well and put himself in position to potentially claim a bullpen spot.

Who helped himself the most? Jackson
Who hurt himself the most? Nobody (yay!)

Braves 2, CARDINALS 2

Akeel Morris couldn't locate his pitches in a troublesome ninth and the Braves had to settle for their first tie of the spring after neither team scored in the tenth. Atlanta never trailed in this one, pulling ahead 1-0 in the fourth on Tyler Flowers' RBI single that plated Emilio Bonifacio. St. Louis tied it on a mammoth Matt Adams blast off Mike Foltynewicz, but The Great Balbino made it 2-1 with his first homer of the spring in the sixth. Fuenmayor had half of Atlanta's four hits in this one. Foltynewicz was very solid outside of the pitch to Adams which caught way too much of the strikezone. He K'd 3 in four efficient innings. Jose Ramirez worked a quiet two-K inning to keep in the hunt for a bullpen spot while Ian Krol, Mauricio Cabrera, and Paco Rodriguez all worked scoreless frames. Morris, who struggles with consistency in his delivery and release point, was banged up by former Braves farmhand Todd Cunningham for a game-tying single in the ninth. Throwing away the ball on a failed pickoff attempt didn't help matters any. Caleb Dirks, the "just-in-case" guy for the Braves, pitched a solid tenth to finish the tie.

Who helped himself the most? Ramirez & Bonifacio (1-for-3, 2 SB)
Who hurt himself the most? Rio Ruiz (0-for-3, K)

Braves 10, YANKEES 2

Kurt Suzuki had a big Sunday with a 3-for-3 day including a trio of doubles as the Braves teed off on C.C. Sabathia for a half-dozen runs in the first frame, sending the former Cy Young award winner to the showers before the first inning was complete. On the mound, Jaime Garcia rolled against a Yankees lineup that including a number of members of their projected opening day roster. He faced 10 batters, allowed two to reach, got a twin killing to wipe out one of them, and struck out one. Matt Wisler entered and went three innings while allowing two solo homers. He did strike out three. Eric O'Flaherty, Blaine Boyer, and Joel De La Cruz tossed scoreless innings in relief to finish the outing. The star of the game, though, was Ronald Acuna. He picked up two hits, including a two-out triple that scored a pair of runs. He also walked and played the entire game in center field. With Ender Inciarte still in the World Baseball Classic, there are plenty of at-bats in center field and even though Acuna won't make the opening day roster, he could continue to receive a long look. Or maybe I just hope he does because he's so fun to watch.

Who helped himself the most? Boyer
Who hurt himself the most? Wisler

Week 3 Record: 3-2-1
Grapefruit League Record: 5-10-1, 12th place, 7 GB

Seven-Day Forecast with TV coverage if available: vs. Pirates, @ Phillies (TCN) , @ Tigers, vs. Tigers, @ Astros (ROOT), vs. Tigers, vs. Cardinals (FSSE)

Projected 25-Man Roster (3/13 edition)
Rotation - Julio Teheran, Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia, R.A. Dickey, Mike Foltynewicz
Bullpen - Jim Johnson, Arodys Vizcaino, Ian Krol, Mauricio Cabrera, Josh Collmenter, Jose Ramirez, Paco Rodriguez, Eric O'Flaherty *
Catchers - Tyler Flowers, Kurt Suzuki
Infielders - Freddie Freeman, Brandon Phillips, Dansby Swanson, Adonis Garcia, Jace Peterson, Chase d'Arnaud
Outfielders - Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Micah Johnson

* - Based on a projected eight-man bullpen. If the team decides to go with seven, I project they'll keep Emilio Bonifacio.

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