Braves notes: Bullpen’s impressive turn, Strider versus the Mets and more

Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (99) delivers to a Mets batter during the first inning at Truist Park on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Atlanta.
Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (99) delivers to a Mets batter during the first inning at Truist Park on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Atlanta. Miguel Martinez /

Baseball people always revert to a familiar refrain: It’s a long season.

This is a common saying because, well, it’s true.

The latest example is the Braves’ bullpen. It has taken heat – which has been deserved, in some cases – but now it has earned some props.

“That’s the key to your success – a big key – is your bullpen,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “And those are the guys that allow you to do what we did the last four games, to come back in games, because they keep the games where they’re manageable. And you can’t say enough about that and why it’s so important in this game.”

On the morning of May 26, the Braves’ bullpen had a 4.86 ERA, which ranked 24th of 30 teams.

Entering this weekend’s series with the Nationals, the Braves’ bullpen had a 3.75 ERA – good for 10th in the sport.

A lot can change in a couple of weeks because this is a long season.

Since May 29, when the Braves began their recent road trip, their relievers have combined to post a 1.84 ERA, which is the third-best mark in baseball over that span. To put it into simpler context, that’s six earned runs over 29-1/3 innings. Included in that: a scoreless streak of 17-1/3 frames.

And that was before Friday’s win over Washington, in which Atlanta’s bullpen didn’t allow a run over the final 3-2/3 innings.

After Thursday’s wild win over the Mets, many people (understandably) paid attention to the walk-off homer and the game-tying homer, and the various run-scoring knocks along the way.

But don’t forget about the bullpen.

“Grinded their butts off,” Austin Riley said after the game. “Kudos to them. They gave us a chance.”

After Friday, the Braves have won five straight games in comeback fashion.

That wouldn’t have been possible without the bullpen’s outstanding work.

Strider versus the Mets

Here’s one of the amazing parts of Thursday’s win: The Braves did not lose a game in which Spencer Strider allowed a career-high eight runs.

To this point in his young career, Strider has struggled against the Mets. He has a 7.23 ERA versus them. It’s his highest ERA versus any team he’s faced more than twice.

Any reason they’ve been tough on him?

“They’re all jerseys. Every team is just a different color,” Strider said. “I think you’re fighting yourself more so than anything. Execution is kind of the universal determining factor as to whether you succeed or don’t. Who’s in the box has little to do with how you execute, in my opinion. Yeah, you give credit to them, absolutely. I don’t know what it is about the Mets, necessarily, that I struggle with.”

Fried, Lee still throwing on flat ground

Max Fried (left forearm strain) and Dylan Lee (left shoulder inflammation) are still long-tossing on flat ground, Snitker said. They have not thrown from a mound yet.

Fried could throw off a mound before Lee, the manager added.

Both are going through their progressions.

“And all that’s going good,” Snitker said. “They’re feeling good, but they’re gonna make sure they check all the boxes and do everything right before we get them back there. It’s kind of a good thing that you’re looking ahead thinking, ‘Wow, we’re gonna get two really valuable guys back here at some point in time.’ And hopefully when we get them back, they’ll be good to go for the duration (of the season).”

Something Snitker mentioned in that quote provides important perspective. The Braves are without Fried and Kyle Wright. They also have had various injuries to position players throughout this first half of the season.

Yet they were 38-24 when they woke up Friday – the best record in the National League. They were 3-1/2 games ahead of the second-place Marlins, and eight ahead of the third-place Phillies.

“Over the year, we’ve lost a lot of really important players, but the thing keeps rolling,” Snitker said. “And I think that’s goes back to the strength of the (group), and the makeup of the (group) is we’re not defined by one guy ever. It’s about the sum of all the parts and not one guy because we’ve proved it in the past that you can lose a key guy but you’re gonna still have to play the games, and these guys just put that aside.”

Bally Sports South telecast with former players a hit

On Thursday, Jeff Francoeur, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones did a players-only telecast.

It did really well, Bally Sports South/Southeast said in a release.

The telecast had a large audience with an average of over 120,000 impressions, which ranked No. 1 in the Atlanta coverage area. It was good for a season-best 4.51 household rating.

The networks said the audience peaked in the 10th inning with 145,000 impressions and a 5.41 household rating.

The telecast seemed to be a huge hit with almost everyone.

Tigers claim Nick Solak

The Tigers claimed outfielder Nick Solak off waivers from the Braves.

Earlier in the week, Atlanta designated Solak for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Ben Heller, a righty acquired from the Rays.