Atlanta was one of the more active teams at the deadline, making four trades in an attempt to fortify their playoff chances. One of the best stories came when the Braves acquired Jonny Venters, the three-time Tommy John surgery recipient who started his major league career in Atlanta eight year ago. The Braves’ other trades seemed to focus on buying low on players who have a decent chance to improve upon their first half performances. Three of those players are the focus of this edition of the stats preview.
Kevin Gausman: Presumably the Braves’ back-up plan after losing out on the Chris Archer sweepstakes, Kevin Gausman is an intriguing add for an organization deep in major league ready pitching prospects. The hope here has to be that getting Gausman out of Baltimore and the AL East will allow him to reach the potential that made him the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Unlike the two players below him in this stats preview, the path to improvement is not as obvious for Gausman. His BABIP is not incredibly high (.317) and his FIP of 4.61 is not far off from his 4.43 ERA. His velocity has been down this year too (94.3 mph in 2018, 95.4 last year), which is never an encouraging trend. Perhaps he could throw his splitter more frequently, as it has the best whiff rate (21.6%) of any of his pitches; he’s already throwing it 24.3% of the time this year. In a small sample size (64 at-bats), Mets hitters have hit just .109 on splitters this year.
Brad Brach: A reliever who has been worth 1.2 WARP or better each of the last few seasons, Brad Brach has had a bit of a down year. His .364 BABIP and 4.02 FIP suggest his 4.72 ERA is a result of some poor luck, though. Not to be overlooked in his move to Atlanta is the improvement in the defense behind him. Some defensive metrics have a much larger gap in the Braves and Orioles infields, but the combined FRAA of the four main Orioles infielders (including the recently traded Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop) is -5.8, while the FRAA of the four main Braves infielders is -0.3. Even though this gap is not as big as some other metrics, for a pitcher who has generated ground balls at a nearly 50% clip this year, any improvement in infield defense could make a huge difference.
Adam Duvall: The lone position player added by the Braves at the deadline, Adam Duvall is yet another rebound candidate. His slash line this year is .205/.285/.399, compared to his much more productive .249/.301/.480 line last year. His underlying numbers show signs of hope, though. He has just a .244 BABIP this year (.272 career) and his line drive rate is up over four percentage points from 2017, so perhaps he will turn things around in a new uniform. The Braves have said he will start against left-handed pitchers, which is probably a smart move, considering he has hit .224/.333/.435 against lefties and just .199/.269/.386 against righties. With lefty Jason Vargas lined up to start game one tonight, look to see Duvall make his Braves debut.
The Good: A.J. Minter has increased his K% in each month of the season: 21.6%, 22.5%, 34.2%, 39.4%
The Bad: Atlanta’s 14-16 record in their last 30 games is the only losing record among the top 15 MLB teams by record in their last 30 games. The Mets are 13-17 in their last 30.
The Ugly: All-Star Mike Foltynewicz has allowed four or more earned runs in four straight starts after allowing four or more runs in one of his first 16 starts.
“Fun” with small sample sizes: Jose Reyes now leads the team in DRA (0.00) after his pitching appearance Tuesday. His FIP is 38.12. It is not the largest gap between FIP and DRA, though. That goes to Enrique Hernandez, with a FIP-DRA of 48.43.
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