Series Preview: Atlanta Braves

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After a slow start, Yoenis Cespedes’ bat has heated up in the last several games.

Headlines

Close but no cigar: The Mets pounded out 14 hits and had a 4-3 lead after 6 innings, but couldn’t complete the sweep against the Phillies, ceding runs in the 7th and 11th for the loss on Wednesday. The 11th inning oddly featured an accidental intentional walk.

Dingers, dingers, dingers: After starting the year dead last in the NL in home runs (along with most other offensive categories) after two series, they have vaulted all the way up to 6th in all of baseball, now with 19 bombs on the season.

Meritless rumors are fun: Citing “comfort and familiarity” in mind, Jon Heyman suggests the Mets could be a landing spot for Johan Santana’s most recent comeback attempt. Assuming he doesn’t have injury setbacks like he has the last two years, it’s still pretty hard to envision Santana making the team at 37, 3 years removed from big league action.

Know Your Foe

We had the pleasure of talking to Alex from Braves Journal, a thoroughly enjoyable down-to-earth Braves blog with a dedicated following.

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After an exceedingly rough start, it looks like the Bravos have finally found their footing. To what do you attribute the recent improvement?

I’m not sure the Braves have found their footing, exactly, but it certainly was gratifying to see a sweep after that horrifying 0-9 start. We’re still a bad team – our defense is truly awful, our offense is pretty punchless, our rotation is a bunch of fourth starters, and our bullpen has a couple of good guys and a lot of bums with gasoline pails – but we’re probably a 60-win team, not a 0-win team. So I think that much of the improvement has just been a dead cat bounce. On the plus side, it looks like Freddie Freeman is swinging a little better, and Jason Grilli has been a lot better in his last few games than he was in the first few.
Obviously, this is a bit of a rebuilding year for Atlanta As painful as it can be, the budding young talent is usually the silver lining. Who are you most excited for at the major league level and/or anyone knocking on the door in Gwinnett and Jackson?
I’m eager to see what Mallex Smith can do. He’s probably not ready for prime time yet, but when center fielder Ender Inciarte got injured, Smith may have been the next-best option, so they brought him up. He’s still making a decent number of mistakes: he’s gotten caught stealing in half of his attempts despite being the fastest player on the team, and the other night he got caught in an inning-ending rundown (he actually motioned for a runner on third to try to score while he was trying to keep from getting tagged; that runner got thrown out at the plate, which led first base coach Terry Pendleton to give him a stern talking-to about not trying to do the coaches’ job from the basepaths). On the other hand, he singled in the game’s winning run, and he appears to have a pretty good glove, and every rookie makes mistakes. The key will be seeing if he demonstrates the ability to learn quickly. That was one thing that Jeff Francoeur couldn’t do.

Perfect segue to my next question – Jeff Francoeur is back! He’s not exactly hitting yet, but I’m sure it’s fun to have a familiar face back in the fold. Any good clubhouse stories from ol’ Captain Caveman thus far this year?

I don’t want to come off as a grouch, and I’m sure that Francoeur is a very nice man, but he’s the last person I wanted on this team. In a rebuilding year, the Braves managed to field the oldest offense in the league, with an average age over 30, and Francoeur embodies the team’s schizophrenic approach toward its Major League team. He’s 32 and at a stage in his career where he brings no obvious assets to a team other than maybe as a good clubhouse guy; his calling card of being a lefty masher hasn’t manifested since 2011. In each season since then, he’s been worth negative WAR. I just can’t see the case for him being more deserving of a roster spot and of at-bats than someone else already in the organization. I could think of quite a few more productive ways of spending a million dollars than giving it to him.

Like maybe 100,000 six packs. I must confess, I know very little about the Atlanta beer scene (Terrapin Beer in Athens is a little too far out to call Atlanta-adjacent). What can you tell me about where one might go for a pint?

Atlanta has a really great beer scene! The best beer bar in the city, and one of the best in the country, is the Porter in Little Five Points. They have a truly incredible selection of drafts and their bottle list is dumbfounding. Their food’s also really good, too. If you’re in Decatur, go to the Brick Store, one of the best Belgian beer bars in America; they also have really good pub grub as well. The most successful Atlanta brewery is Sweetwater, whose ubiquitous flagship 420 Extra Pale Ale is basically Atlanta’s equivalent to Goose Island 312 in Chicago. But there are a whole lot of great options. Orpheus Brewing does some really interesting funky beers. Three Taverns and Wild Heaven do some nice beers, though I’d warn you that both specialize in high-grav. Monday Night Brewing does more conventional stuff: the Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale is the flagship, but they do some good IPAs, too. Red Hare out in Marietta is also worth mentioning, particularly because they don’t show up on BeerAdvocate’s list of Atlanta breweries.

Understandably, it might be a long season this year (though more promising times appear ahead). What’s your beer of choice to drown the sorrows of a Barves loss? Or perhaps the joy of an unexpected win?

Favorite Atlanta beer…the Orpheus Life.Death.Life.Truth is really good. Can’t get that up here in DC, but that makes it extra special when I get home to Atlanta and can pour some. Win or lose, I want to have a good beer.

Always a good plan.

Thanks again to Alex for giving us the low down on the Braves and Atlanta’s beer scene!

Standings & Probables

Nationals 11-3 .786
Mets 7-7 .500
Phillies 7-9 .438
Marlins 4-9 .308
Braves 4-10 .286

Friday, April 22 Matt Harvey (0-3 5.71 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (1-2 6.23 ERA)

Saturday, April 23 Steven Matz (1-1 7.27 ERA) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (0-0 2.38 ERA)

Sunday, April 24 Jacob deGrom (1-0 1.50 ERA) vs. Williams Perez (0-0 5.11 ERA)

Beer From the Bad Guys

Terrapin Beer Company Hi-5 IPA

I usually try to enjoy new beers for this part of the post, but I couldn’t help but sing the praises of Hi-5, which I first enjoyed at Christmas this past Winter.

Pouring golden yellow with a touch of haze, Hi-5 maintains its head well down the glass. The citrus in the nose follows to the taste, which is pretty effortless. Whereas I’m not entirely convinced there’s such a thing as a “California-style IPA,” it does evoke the surf and sand of the California coastline, so I’ll give that a pass.

Hi-5 utilizes the Zythos hop blend, which not only had I never heard of before, but is evidently a combination of hops, the contents of which appear to be unpublished. They do impart plenty of citrus and tropical fruit flavors, as evident in this beer. The finish is bright and clean.hi-5

Scouting Report (20-80 scale)

See: 60

Smell: 60

Taste: 65

Feel: 65

Overall: 65

Not all beers need to be huge and complex, as is made clear in this case. Hi-5 is a remarkably easy drinker, with some hop zing and citrus. The beer just feels like easy going California sun, sure to brighten up your day. LGM!

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One thought on “Series Preview: Atlanta Braves

  1. Pingback: Series Preview: Atlanta Braves II | Brew and Orange

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