Bradley’s Buzz: The Braves will welcome a familiar face

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman, right, smiles at Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried after being thrown out at first during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Credit: AP

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Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman, right, smiles at Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried after being thrown out at first during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Credit: AP

We knew the Braves wouldn’t win every game from here on. That they lost a series, after winning 14 games in succession, to the Cubs, who were on a 10-game losing streak, is among the reasons baseball is baseball. Now to future business.

The Braves are home for seven games – four against the Giants, three against the Dodgers. This comes after almost a month of facing sub-.500 teams, against which the Braves went 17-5. The Giants have righted themselves after losing nine of 13 near the end of May.

Since Memorial Day, the Dodgers are 7-11. They were swept by San Francisco and Pittsburgh. They’re without Walker Buehler, who had surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow. Clayton Kershaw just returned from a periodic stint on the injured list. Mookie Betts hurt a rib when he ran into Cody Bellinger in the outfield.

The Dodgers slipped a half-game behind San Diego into second place in the National League West on Friday. They’re back in front as of this morning, on pace to win 100 games yet again. Without Corey Seager and Kenley Jansen, they aren’t quite as star-laden as usual. Though they did sign one familiar name …

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About Freddie Freeman, former Brave

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Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman looks on from the on-deck circle during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Credit: AP

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman looks on from the on-deck circle during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Credit: AP

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Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman looks on from the on-deck circle during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

He has six home runs. Two came against the Braves in April. One came Sunday. He’s hitting .291. His OPS is .831. His Baseball-Reference WAR is 1.8.

Making the inevitable comparison, Matt Olson’s WAR is 1.0. His OPS is .805. He has eight homers.

We assume Freeman will hit a home run his first time up Friday night at Truist Park. He does stuff like that. He’s also the cover subject of Los Angeles magazine’s July edition. The story is by Fred Schruers, among noted writers in the industry. Its title: “Can L.A. Dodger Freddie Freeman save baseball?”

The cover line: “The Dodgers’ new first baseman doesn’t smoke, drink or swear, but damn if L.A. fans don’t love him anyway. How the least surly slugger in the majors might make baseball America’s pastime again.”

In sum: No pressure, Freddie.

Also: “Least surly slugger” is something I wish I’d written.

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About the Hawks and the draft

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Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk during introductory press conference for new head coach Lloyd Pierce Monday, May 14, 2018, in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk during introductory press conference for new head coach Lloyd Pierce Monday, May 14, 2018, in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

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Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk during introductory press conference for new head coach Lloyd Pierce Monday, May 14, 2018, in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

They’re coming off a winning-but-unsatisfying season. They hold the draft’s 16th pick. They’re not apt to change their team immediately with the 16th pick. (By way of comparison, Onyeka Okongwu went sixth in 2020. He’s not yet a starter.) For the Hawks to get appreciably better, they’ll have to make a trade.

Such a deal might include Danilo Gallinari, who’s set to make $21 million next season. It might include John Collins, who just re-upped but whose numbers dipped, if only a bit, last season. We’ll have more to say about this later in the week, but the point – I think – is this: Collins and Gallinari are key reasons the Hawks came within two games of the 2021 NBA finals. Excising either would carry a risk.

General manager Travis Schlenk admitted that keeping that team together was a mistake. He traded Cam Reddish, considered by some the second-most-gifted Hawk, midway through last season. That was a declaration the Hawks are no longer in asset-accumulation mode. They’re bent on winning now. It’d be surprising if they keep the No. 16 pick.

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Another reason to feel cheerful about the Braves

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060922 Atlanta: Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris adjusts his headbanc against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning in a MLB baseball game on Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

060922 Atlanta: Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris adjusts his headbanc against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning in a MLB baseball game on Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Atlanta.     “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
060922 Atlanta: Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris adjusts his headbanc against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning in a MLB baseball game on Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Going by Baseball-Reference WAR, only one of the top dozen Braves is older than 28. That’s catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who’s 33. He’s 11th. Half of the 12 – Austin Riley, Spencer Strider, William Contreras, Ronald Acuna, Michael Harris and Ozzie Albies – are 25 or younger.