The Braves’ five-game winning streak came to an end when they ran into the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night. The Nats won the game 3-1 (despite seven solid innings of work from Mike Foltynewicz), but the running joke of the night was CB Bucknor’s home plate umpiring. It was especially bad from start to finish, with special emphasis on the finish.
The Braves delivered some good news on the injury front, as they announced that Matt Kemp would start on a rehab stint tonight. Dave O’Brien said that the Braves expected the rehab stint to be brief, so we’ll probably be seeing Kemp back and active sooner rather than later.
So, Ender Inciarte already has more dingers to his name this season than he had all last year. Also, the homers that he’s hit so far were not cheap at all — those were legt round-trippers for the normally light-hitting center fielder. The crew at FanGraphs noticed this and made sure to “congratulate” Inciarte on his achievement.
Inciarte doesn’t have a history of hitting for power. He’s got 17 career dingers to his name, to go with a .099 ISO. In this year’s tiny sample, Inciarte hasn’t cut down on his grounders. He has pulled the ball more, and he has swung more often, with less contact. The samples are so small I’m almost embarrassed to even be analyzing them, but let’s face it — if I didn’t look at the numbers, you were just going to click through and look at the same numbers. I’m saving you time. Maybe Ender Inciarte is up to something? Maybe he’s not, and he’s just made an unusual amount of great contact lately. But it’s easy to let your imagination get the best of you, given that Inciarte already runs and fields so damned well. Baseball’s so weird Inciarte might as well go deep 40 times.
Dansby Swanson went 0-4 on Tuesday night, which was another rough night for the promising rookie so far in 2017. The good news is that he’s still showing flashes of potential (like his walk-off heroics on Monday) that rightly give us belief that he’s going to be very good, and all signs seem to indicate that a turnaround should eventually come.
Small sample size rules are in play here as Swanson has amassed just 55 plate appearances this season. His strikeout rate is actually down slightly according to FanGraphs but his walk rate has also fallen from 9.0 percent last season to 3.6 percent this season. One thing that does jump out is Swanson’s BABIP which is at .175 and suggests that he has been a bit unlucky when he has put the ball in play. For context, Swanson posted a .383 BABIP last season. He has actually hit safely in eight of Atlanta’s 12 games this season but is still looking for his first multi-hit game.
The Pirates were already outsiders to potentially crash the postseason party in 2017, and now that’s basically a pipe dream after Starling Marte tested positive for using Performance Enhancing Drugs. He’ll be suspended for 80 games and is now ineligible for the playoffs (should a miracle happen and the Pirates make it there). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote at length about how the plan concerning curtailing PED use needs to get smarter.
Marte is something of an underground star, beloved in Pittsburgh, a sabermetric darling, widely recognized by on-field personnel for his excellence. The Pirates were giddy to lock him up in 2014 to a six-year, $31 million contract that is considered one of the great team-friendly deals in all of baseball.
He is, too, a perfect test case around which to frame this intelligent, salient, progressive, forthright discussion. And since nobody wants to speak up, the best alternative is to proffer the myths that continue to be perpetuated and douse them with the truth.
The Marlins beat the Mariners 5-0 on Tuesday night, but we were very close to seeing it turn out to be something special instead of a ho-hum victory. Wei-Yin Chen had a no-hitter going through seven innings, but was taken out because he was also on 100 pitches after seven innings. As such, the Marlins turned to their bullpen in an attempt to complete the no-no, and they got one out in the ninth inning before Mitch Haniger ruined the party for Miami.