Bradley’s Buzz: The Braves’ bad weekend was a function of bad starting pitching

Ever wonder why baseball folks, even in the age of deploying relievers as “openers,” are forever fretting about starting pitching? Think back, although it’s painful, on the Braves’ series in Queens.

The teams worked 45 innings over four days. In the Mets’ four victories, they led 5-0, 3-0, 3-0 and 4-0 after three innings. In the Braves’ lone win, they led 8-0 in the top of the second inning. Bullpens had little to do with this series, though the Mets’ Edwin Diaz was stellar.

All five losses were ascribed to a starting pitcher. Four of the five wins were ascribed to a starter, the exception coming in Game 2, when Ian Anderson was pulled in the fifth with his team leading 8-2.

There are many ways to win a game, but the quickest way to lose is for your starting pitcher to get outpitched by theirs. The Braves’ starters yielded 18 earned runs in 22 innings. That’s an ERA of 7.36. The Mets’ starters yielded 13 runs over 25 innings. That’s an ERA of 4.68, which isn’t great but was skewed by Taijuan Walker surrendering eight runs in one-plus inning of the only game the Mets lost.

The Mets’ starters are fifth in MLB in ERA, and Jacob deGrom has worked only two games. The Braves’ starters rank 12th. That’s the one glaring difference between the teams. The Braves have scored 522 runs to the Mets’ 523. The Mets’ OPS is .444; the Braves’ is .442. The Braves’ bullpen ERA is 3.33; the Mets’ is 3.67.

The teams will meet seven more times, including a four-game set at Truist Park next week. The Mets lead the season series 8-4. They’re 6-2 over the past two convocations. Their lead in the NL East is 6-1/2 games, the highest it has been since June 18. Both teams figure to make the playoffs, but the Mets have positioned themselves to be no worse than the league’s No. 2 seed, which would earn a Round 1 bye come October.

This series wasn’t the end of the world – the Braves have 52 games remaining – but it was an eye-opener for both parties. The Braves were outscored 31-19 and didn’t lead over the final 27 innings. Making his second start of 2022, deGrom had a perfect game working with two out in the sixth. Of the 17 Braves he retired, 12 struck out.

The division race isn’t over, but the Mets have reason to believe they – for the first time in many a year – are the better team. This Atlanta-based correspondent didn’t see that coming. I’m pretty sure the Braves didn’t, either.

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Even more about Ian Anderson

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Braves are sending him to Gwinnett, though he’ll remain on the taxi squad long enough to start one of Saturday’s doubleheader games against the Marlins. His ERA is 5.11. His WHIP is 1.543. He’s tied for the big-league lead in walks. Even with an 8-0 lead on Friday, he couldn’t make it through the fifth inning.

Anderson has been a massive part of the Braves’ past two playoff runs. Of his eight starts, the Braves won seven. His postseason ERA is 1.26. If he can’t sort himself out by October, the Braves’ chances of winning it all again will take a major hit.

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About Pete Rose

Even us Atlantans have forgotten what transpired in Game 2 of the 1999 World Series, which was the last World Series game staged at Turner Field. (En route to a sweep, the Yankees overwhelmed Kevin Millwood and won 7-2.) What we do recall is Jim Gray’s abrasive pregame interview with Pete Rose, who remained, and remains, banned by MLB but was allowed to appear on the field as a member of the All-Century team.

On Sunday, the Phillies celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1980 World Series championship team. (The ceremony was pushed back two years by COVID.) Rose, who was Philly’s first baseman that season, again was cleared to appear. Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer asked about an accusation made by one of Rose’s paramours that she was involved in a sexual relationship with him when she was a minor, which would amount to statutory rape.

Rose has claimed she was 16 when their affair – he was then married to Karolyn, Wife No. 1 – began, 16 being the age of consent in Ohio.

“It was 55 years ago, babe,” Rose said to Coffey. He would later ask her if signing 1,000 baseballs and saying he was “sorry” would allow Coffey to forgive him.

An Associated Press reporter sought to follow up. His response: “Who cares what happened 50 years ago? You weren’t even born. You shouldn’t be talking about it because you weren’t even born. If you don’t know a damn thing about it, don’t talk about it.”

Then, AP reported, Rose appeared in the Phillies’ broadcast booth. Quoth the AP story: “(He) cursed several times and used crude locker-room terms, including when talking about announcer and fellow former Phillies first baseman John Kruk, a testicular cancer survivor.”

File this in the voluminous folder marked, “Why you don’t invite Pete Rose to anything.”

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Actual encouraging news re: the Falcons

ESPN has named the Falcons’ young core the fourth best among NFL clubs. Scott Spratt of Football Outsiders names tight end Kyle Pitts and cornerback A.J. Terrell as the best young players at their positions. He also notes “this team lacks (an) expected difference-maker at that most important position.”

That position, as you’ve guessed, is quarterback.