Atlanta Braves blog 

Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Braves prospect Bethancourt impressed while in bigs

  • 2:08 pm Monday, July 21st, 2014 by David O'Brien
Christian Bethancourt has impressed while filling in for injured Evan Gattis over the past few weeks.

When Evan Gattis was activated from the DL this afternoon, Christian Bethancourt was optioned back to Triple-A as expected. The Braves have veteran backup Gerald Laird and emergency catcher Ryan Doumit, don’t have room for three full-time catchers on their 25-man roster, and besides, they want their top catching prospect Bethancourt to keep playing every day and developing, not spending most of his time on the bench.

So, Bethancourt will go back to Gwinnett after spending the past few weeks with the big club and making quite an impression with the strides he’s made since last year and even since this [More]

All things considered, Braves in 1st-place tie fairly amazing

  • 1:07 pm Sunday, July 20th, 2014 by David O'Brien
All-Star Freddie Freeman wasn't  immune to the struggles that so many Braves endured in first half,  yet they are tied for first place on July 19 despite injuries and disappointing performances from several key players.

Their loss to the Phillies on Saturday night left the Braves with a 7-5 mark against last-place Philly this season, including a particularly surprising 1-4 at Turner Field. But for those who would (and do) use any such loss to underscore some bigger point about the Braves’ season, let’s consider where things stand today.

While the Braves have been maddeningly inconsistent and failed to fully capitalize on some rather remarkable pitching – especially starting pitching — during the first two months of the season, this team has not been anywhere near the overall disappointment some would have us believe.

And all things [More]

Chicks don’t dig this: Braves 1 HR in 10 games

  • 2:52 pm Thursday, July 10th, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Braves have one homer in 344 at-bats over their past 10 games, and Freeman (right) has two homers in 110 at-bats over his past 28 games.

NEW YORK – One homer in 344 at-bats over the past 10 games. That’s what the Braves have mustered. And you might have also heard, they aren’t real good at the situational hitting, hitting with runners in scoring position, that kind of thing.

So no, it’s not a real good offensive combination, and it’s why they’ve totaled eight runs in their current four-game losing streak. The question is, can we expect this Braves team to do significantly better between now and October? And if they can’t score against some rather run-of-the-mill pitchers, what about the aces they’ll face in the postseason [More]

Braves could use some of Ervin’s ‘Magic’ tonight

  • 2:38 pm Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Santana has 20 strikeouts and three walks in 20 innings over his past three starts. Against the Mets, he's 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three career starts.

NEW YORK – The Ervin Santana bandwagon shed a lot of Braves fans during a four-week stretch in which he posted a 6.44 ERA while winning once in six starts and allowing six earned runs three times (and five earned runs once). It was not magic, by any means.

But for those who were so turned off by his four rotten starts in that period that they might not have noticed, Santana has been solid in six of his past seven starts, and pitched quite well in a few of them.

The Braves need him sharp tonight in the third game of [More]

Braves searching for lefty reliever; Miller would do nicely

  • 2:33 pm Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Braves hope to add a lefty reliever before the trade deadline, and 6-foot-7 Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller is among those they've scouted. (AP photo)

  NEW YORK – Monday night’s loss to the Mets provided another reminder of why the Braves have made bolstering their bullpen a priority before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and specifically why they’re looking for a lockdown-type left-hander who could help restore their ‘pen to something close to its elite level of recent seasons.

Someone like Andrew Miller of the Red Sox, for instance. More on that in a moment.

After the Braves scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning Monday, lefty Luis Avilan gave up the lead on a Curtis Granderson homer [More]

Minor hasn’t pitched like top-half-of-rotation starter

  • 2:34 pm Monday, July 7th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Tonight's starter Mike Minor is 0-3 with a 5.21 ERA in his past eight starts, and has been hurt frequently by the home-run ball.

  NEW YORK – The Braves have made bolstering the bullpen a priority before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, preferably with another lefty they can use in the seventh or eighth innings. Presumably they aren’t going to add another starter, barring injury or other unexpected development in the next few weeks.

That means they are going to go with what they’ve got, which is good and could be very good if….

What do you think the if is? It’s not Julio Teheran, who has established himself as an legit ace and should have made the All-Star team to begin with, not as [More]

Braves must keep pedal to metal in soft part of schedule

  • 1:54 pm Friday, July 4th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Julio Teheran (left) has established himself as the Braves ace in his second full season in the majors.    Atlanta is 9-1 since B.J. Upton (right)  moved into the leadoff spot.

Remember during the stretch drive of the 2012 season when the Braves and Nationals were in lockstep? When the Braves won, the Nats won. When they lost, the Nats lost. It happened almost every day for weeks on end.

Well, we’re not in the stretch drive yet, but it’s been happening again lately. After Atlanta wasted an opportunity to gain ground when the Nats struggled for long stretches of the first half, the Braves are now on their first extended winning streak of the season. But they haven’t been able to put any distance between themselves and the Nats, who are [More]

Heyward’s stellar defense rewarded with June award

  • 2:28 pm Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 by David O'Brien
Heyward makes consistently strong throws and all the routine plays, and  occasionally some spectacular ones, too.

Jason Heyward was named major league Defensive Player of the Month for June by ESPN.com’s SweetSpot blog, which has a panel that does a great job thoroughly analyzing and voting on this award. Absolutely no one connected with the Braves is surprised by this, and I’d imagine that few who watched more than a handful of Braves games in June would be either.

Heyward has been a beast in right field this season. He was already arguably the best at his position in the league coming into this season, but this year he’s been the best without much debate among those [More]

Make no mistake, Braves will miss Gattis’ big bat

  • 2:18 pm Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Braves will have to to make do for a while without Evan Gattis, who led the team in June in average, OBP, slugging percentage, homers and RBIs.

On a night when the Braves matched their season-high five-game winning streak with a stirring, up-off-the-mat, 5-3 comeback win against the Mets, the most significant development Monday was a negative one: El Oso Blanco is down.

An MRI revealed that Evan Gattis has a bulging thoracic disc in his upper back, not the muscle strain that was originally diagnosed after he left Friday’s game at Philadelphia. He was placed on the 15-day DL last night, retroactive to Saturday, the day after his last game.

He told us after Monday’s game that he didn’t know if it all happened on the one swing [More]

Braves prospect Peraza is special, just ask (Kyle) Wren

  • 2:00 pm Monday, June 30th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Within a year or two, Jose Peraza could become the Braves' long-term answer at leadoff. (Baseball America photo)

Five months ago the Braves brought most of their top prospects to Atlanta for a semi-annual January rookie camp designed to get them a little acclimated with the big-league ballpark and surroundings they’ll experience if and when they get their first callup. I had a chance to talk with several of them including center fielder Kyle Wren.

When the Braves made the son of GM Frank Wren an eighth-round pick in the June 2013 draft, it raised some eyebrows among folks who hadn’t seen Kyle play at Georgia Tech or read the scouting reports. But he quickly silenced most skeptics by [More]

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