3 things to keep in mind about Braves

April 5th, 2021

With Monday’s scheduled game against the Nationals postponed, the Braves will have to wait at least one more day to record their first win following a frustration-filled weekend in Philadelphia.

Hopes to get on track as soon as possible were erased late Sunday night, when it was announced the Nationals’ COVID-19 issues would delay their season opener until Tuesday. Washington conducted its first team workout in seven days on Monday, but the team may still be without a few members of its active roster for its Opening Day matchup against Atlanta.

The postponement will push ’s debut back to Tuesday, which is when the Braves had originally planned to use a bullpen game. Smyly, who signed a one-year, $11 million deal in November, will match up against Max Scherzer.

While waiting for Tuesday’s series opener, here are a few takeaways from the Braves being swept by the Phillies to begin the season.

1) Solid contact isn’t always rewarded
Coming out of the first weekend, the Braves rank fourth among MLB teams with 90.8 mph average exit velocity. The Phillies rank last among the 28 teams that have played, with an 85.1 mph average exit velocity.

This just verifies what you saw throughout the weekend, during which the Braves frequently hit the ball hard at defenders and the Phillies found holes with soft contact.

Based on exit velocities and launch angles per Statcast, the Phillies produced a .249 expected batting average (ninth in MLB) and a .375 expected slugging percentage (21st). They actually hit .260 and slugged .344.

As for the Braves, they produced a .228 expected batting average (18th) and a .440 expected slugging percentage (10th). They actually hit .128 with a .223 slugging percentage.

2) Season-opening sweeps
While tallying just three runs in the Philadelphia series, the Braves produced their lowest run total through the first three games of a series since 2003, when they totaled just two runs while being swept at home by the Expos.

The 2003 Braves tallied two runs during an Opening Day matchup against Tony Armas. They were then shut out while Montreal started Zach Day and Javier Vázquez in the next two games.

What happened to that 2003 club? Well, it won 101 games and scored what remains a modern franchise-record 907 runs.

Gary Sheffield, Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez and Andruw Jones all earned consideration on MVP ballots that year. They combined to go 9-for-42 with one extra-base hit during that series against the Expos.

So maybe it would be wise to halt concern about Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna going a combined 3-for-44 with one extra-base hit this past weekend in Philadelphia.

3) Improved bullpen for rivals?
As the Phillies bullpen worked 7 1/3 scoreless innings during the opening series, it showed it could be much more formidable than it was last year when it produced an atrocious 6.92 ERA.

The Braves scored at least four runs against the Phillies' bullpen in six of 10 games played against the division rivals last season.

This year’s Phillies relief corps has struck out 40.7 percent of the batters it has faced. The Braves’ bullpen was nearly as impressive, as it recorded a 34 percent strikeout rate and allowed just two earned runs over 10 2/3 innings.

Yes, Chris Martin allowed three straight singles in Sunday’s decisive eighth. But the only true concern for the entire team should be the health of Martin, who had to exit the series finale because of numbness in his fingers.