clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Braves Mailbag: Ronald Acuña Jr., Michael Harris and more

This week’s Braves mailbag is focused on the outfield and what it might look like going forward now that Ronald Acuña Jr. is back.

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Thanks again to everyone who sent in questions for this week’s mailbag. If I didn’t get to your’s, we will do this again soon. Let’s get to it!

It seems to me that nobody talks about Ronald Acuna, Jr.’s contribution to last year’s World Series team. He was the best player in baseball for the first half of last season before his injury and kept us in the race almost single handedly. Shouldn’t we be heaping more praise on him?

I don’t think it is a situation where people are ignoring what Acuña did last season. In a lot of ways, the 2021 season felt like two different seasons wrapped up in one with how the Braves finished down the stretch and of course. You are right though, Acuña was on his way to the best season of his career as he accumulated 4.3 fWAR in just 82 games. For context, that WAR total was third on the Braves trailing only Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley despite playing essentially half the season.

I know that it has only been three starts, but, If there is serious Charlie Morton regression, do we regret not re-signing Drew Smyly? 2.56 xERA, .244 BABIP over 15 innings so far this season.

It has been a tough start for Morton, but I don’t know that I am ready to declare it regression after just three starts. Especially not after you consider that he is coming off of a major injury and a shortened spring. People don’t remember it because of the way he finished, but he had a 4.76 ERA through five starts last season albeit with a 3.49 FIP.

I wondered this offseason about a potential reunion for the Braves and Smyly, but I think it was a situation where they thought their internal candidates were better options. Smyly is off to a good start with a 2.79 ERA but has a 4.91 FIP. So, it will be interesting to see how long he can maintain those good numbers. At this juncture of his career, I think Smyly would be best utilized as a multi-inning relief option where he doesn’t have to face an order two or three times. Also, I’m sure fans everywhere would have had a measured response had they decided to bring back Smyly.

The Braves obviously don’t want to rush him, but there has to be an opportunity for Michael Harris to play his way up this year given the horrendous struggles of the outfield, right? Yes it’s early, and Acuna will obviously help solve part of the problem, but Rosario and Duvall look really bad right now.

With the way Michael Harris has started at Mississippi, this has been a hot topic on social media the last couple of weeks. Barring a major injury or something unexpected, I don’t see it happening. The Braves left Harris in Rome for the entire 2021 season and I expect him to be at Mississippi for most, if not all, of 2022. Maybe he ends the season at Gwinnett and that sets up a situation where he goes to spring next year with a chance to win a spot in the outfield. Right now I feel like that is the earliest we might see Harris.

I’m curious about the hated ‘ghost runner on 2nd’ extra inning rule. Does anyone know if (during the off-season negotiations) they ever discussed not instituting this BS rule until later in extra innings (say, after 12 innings of actual baseball)?

I think it is important to remember that the ghost runner was not part of the new CBA. The league and players agreed after the fact to put it back in. I’m not sure if that was something to help limit innings for pitchers coming out of a shortened spring or if it is something that the players like. Personally, if they are going to use it, I’d like to see it take effect after the 10th or 11th innings. Given that they agreed to put this back in after leaving it out of the CBA, I wonder if it is something that will ever go away.

Once Acuna comes back, what is the best platoon for LF that you could think of, including guys on team, minor leaguers and trade targets that would be relatively cheap/easy?

Looks like Travis Demeritte is going to get the first shot to lock down the majority of playing time. When Eddie Rosario returns, perhaps we see him pair with Demeritte. It is hard to project a trade at this point. If Rosario comes back and is healthy, then I still expect him to see the bulk of time in left field. Demeritte though has the opportunity to show that he can contribute and perhaps they settle into some sort of platoon situation.

Any update on Bally Sports getting on YouTube TV / other streaming svc and/or their reported streaming service?

Nope and it isn’t just YouTube TV, it is virtually every streaming service without a satellite subscription. It is unfortunate, but given that it has been this way for multiple seasons now, they don’t seem to care. With MLB putting more of its product on streaming services like Apple TV+ and Amazon, I’d love to see another option to the RSNs, but due to existing contracts, that is probably just wishful thinking.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Battery Power Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Atlanta Braves news from Battery Power