Short takes: Small ball, Teheran, bullpen and a Braves’ win

The Braves needed strong starting pitching and got it from Julio Teheran. (Steve Mitchell, USA Today)

The Braves needed strong starting pitching and got it from Julio Teheran. (Steve Mitchell, USA Today)

Julio Teheran gave the Braves six strong innings and then was rescued by bullpen in the seventh. (Steve Mitchell, USA Today)

MIAMI — After an offseason that saw them part with Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and, on the eve of opening day, Craig Kimbrel, the Braves finally played a game Monday against Miami. And they won.

Two runs via “small ball” and strong work from starter Julio Teheran and the bullpen gave the Braves a 2-1 win over the Marlins to open the season.

So there you go. The dismantled Braves are in first place.

I’ll post a column on the game on MyAJC.com

  UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full game column.

Here are my three “Short Takes” on the game:

1. Bullpen passes first test: Nobody should have been surprised that starter Julio Teheran pitched six strong innings, allowing one run and five hits. But when Teheran allowed three straight singles to load the bases in the seventh, he was pulled, setting up the first test of the season for the Braves’ reworked bullpen that was now minus closer Craig Kimbrel. Results: Luis Avilan got Jarrod Saltalamacchia to hit into a 5-2-3 double play. Jim Johnson got Adeiny Hechavarria on a pop-up to end the scoring threat, then retired the Marlins in order in the eighth. And in Craig Kimbrel time, new closer Jason Grilli did a pretty good impersonation: he struck out Giancarlo Stanton and Michael Morse and retired Martin Prado on a line out to second baseman Jace Peterson. Just how John Hart and Fredi Gonzalez drew it up.

2. The clutch of Markakis: Free agent right fielder Nick Markakis was the only player Braves executive John Hart spent real money on this offseason (four years, $44 million). But even Hart had low expectations for Markakis in the first “four to six weeks” of the season because Markakis did little for much of spring training while recovering from herniated disk surgery. Hart: “He just hasn’t had the volume of work.” But Markakis came through in the clutch twice — with a one-out RBI single in the first inning (after Jace Peterson singled and was balked to second) and a ground ball to the right of the infield scoring Eric Young, Jr. from third base in the sixth.

3. Only the Marlins: Miami is expected to have a pretty good team this season. But is there a dysfunctional organization more likely than the Marlins that would have an Opening Day rain delay of 16 minutes — despite playing in a stadium with a retractable roof? I guess Marlins Park isn’t wired for radar, or even the Weather Channel. Despite suddenly overcast skies and cool breezes that suggested rain might be coming in the bottom of the second inning, the roof stayed open. Rain fell, play was stopped and a delay ensued while the roof was closed, a painfully slow process. Unlike at most ballparks, the Marlins’ grounds crew could not roll a rain tarp onto the field or at least the pitcher’s mound. Why? Because who would think a tarp would be needed with a roof?


Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— AJC: LIVE: Braves (or what’s left of them) open series vs. Marlins
— AJC: Braves’ deal saves budget (Upton) but drives nail in season (Kimbrel)
— MyAJC: Trade reaffirms Braves’ decision to go backward before forward
— MyAJC: With expectations low, at least Braves won’t underachieve
— AJC: Hawks’ biggest nightmare: Millsap suffers shoulder injury
— MyAJC: Hawks’ turnaround started with trade of Joe Johnson — and he knows it
— AJC: (Updated) Hank Haney was right — Tiger Woods to play in Masters
— AJC: Braves’ deal for Trevor Cahill illustrates concerns about rotation
— MyAJC: Real news would be Tiger Woods making shots
— AJC: Tiger Woods’ plane in Augusta but status for Masters still uncertain
— AJC: Are Braves really second-worst team in majors (thank you, Philly)?
— AJC: Falcons will pay appropriate penalties for dumb decision
— MyAJC: Paul Millsap: The 6-8 kid who couldn’t dunk now leading Hawks
— AJC: Hawks clinch East, act like it’s no big deal (which is probably good)
— MyAJC: NBA needs to curtail resting of players
— AJC: Will Falcons, others avoid losing draft picks this year?
— MyAJC: Basketball is where Georgia State’s focus should be
— AJC: New reality at Georgia State: What Ron Hunter wants, he gets
— MyAJC: Hawks get drilled, and concerns may be growing
— MyAJC: Georgia better but still not where it needs to be
— AJC: Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament
— MyAJC: Gregory knows he needs to make most of his extended lifeline
— AJC: Gregory says he gave Izzo ‘everything’ he has on Georgia
— AJC: Timing is everything, as Tech keeps Gregory
— AJC: Tech expected to keep Gregory, but former coach (Hewitt) fired again

 

Reader Comments 0

50 comments
BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

It looks like we might be seeing that kid Matt Wisler who the Brave's got from SD for Kimbrel sooner than later.Especially if Cahill and Stults keep getting blown up!

ComaToes
ComaToes

Well Braves faithful, there he is, as advertised, the highly-paid Mr. Cahill  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   As the snake says after biting the little girl,  "well, you knew what I was before you picked me up" !

swimfin2
swimfin2

So many on here were saying OMG they let upton, gattis, jh go. They will suck. I said huh? What did those guys do for them last year? How did they perform in the final month. Last year the braves had the second worst runs scored in the majors! How can it get worse? I predicted they would be better. That was before letting CK go though. They will regret that. I think they would have won 85-88 games with him and made the postseason while other fools said bottom 5 in the majors. Nice logic. They will be better on offense this year without all the strikeouts. But losing CK, will hurt. That will cost them at least games. So now no playoffs and probably 80-82 wins. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

@swimfin2 80-82! 


Maybe you meant 70-72?


60-62 not out of the question, either

Wilbo
Wilbo

Sux soooooo bad to see the Atlanta Gutless Losers on top of the NL East.


Enjoy it quickly, knuckleheads. It won't last long!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Shingshuh and PalmBeachFalcon, meant this to be a reply to your posts below, but it ended up here at the top o' the page....

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

If the Braves are going to make the playoffs this year it's going to have to be a 69 Mets kind of happening. Dumping BJ was a necessary step, albeit costly. One has to wonder, though, where is the bottom of the tear-down? If some team wants to give Hart three A and double-A prospects for Freeman, or for Simmons, does he make the deal? He's said this is "Plan B", not a complete tear-down. We'll see.

ZAZ
ZAZ

@DawgDadII Kimbrel was a logical move. Each save is costing the team more than 3 mil; by contrast, the Cards closer last season had 2 fewer saves and it cost the team about 12K per save @545K/annually. This is more in line with the economic model prudent clubs try to follow. I'm glad we're not tying up millions in a guy who does something every 4-6 games.

ZAZ
ZAZ

@DawgDadII Simmons warrants a possible 'untouchable' tag. Freeman not so much if the deal is right. I don't buy into the 'face of the franchise' talk. I don't see it yet with FF.

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

Freeman and Simmons aren't going anywhere. You don't build teams around closers -- you do build teams around position players like Freeman and Simmons. They're young, affordable for their level of production, and should be entering their peak years by the time the Braves are ready to contend again.

If you're building for the future, Freeman and Simmons are exactly the type of guys you keep. Kimbrel is/was not one of those guys. Closers, even the best ones like Kimbrel, simply aren't foundational pieces. I'm sure some will bring up Mariano Rivera as a counterexample, but if he didn't play on loaded Yankees teams we would remember him as just another really good reliever.

pbond3
pbond3

@We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again 

100% correct! Closers, relatively speaking, are not that difficult to replace (compared to a good catcher or starting pitcher or shortstop etc.) Few years ago when Mariano Rivera went down in spring training (he never threw a pitch the whole season), the Yanks quickly signed Raphael Soriano and went to the playoffs. Back in 2012, Giants ace closer Brian Wilson was lost for the season in April, and all they did was win the World Series. Anyone recall who closed games for the Giants that year? Me neither. 

On a related subject, the closer is the most overrated POSITION in the game, and the save stat ranks a couple levels above meaningless. Back in 2007, a Rangers pitcher actually recorded  a save in a 30-3 win over the Orioles (rules for save have not changed since then).  A save would be very credible with one simple change: remove the requirement that he finish the game. That way a guy who comes in to pitch the 7th or 8th with 2 men on and 0 or 1 out in a close game and stops the rally could earn the save, and not the guy who comes in to pitch the 9th with a 2 or 3 run lead and the bases empty. Let the official scorer decide who gets a save, just like they decide if someone gets an error.

mdet
mdet

I only saw Simmons last AB, he lost his balance and fell over b/c he was trying to swing as hard as he can. wtf

ZAZ
ZAZ

@mdet Yes, not a good sign and thought that that was something on which they would work with him. Same tendency as last season.

SeanLB
SeanLB

The truth is this:  This team is better than last season's squad.  Even with all of the players that the fanbase is "outraged" we moved, we finished under -.500.  In other words, John Hart had nothing to lose.  If Heyward blows it up, it doesn't matter - we weren't going to pay him.  If Kimbrel goes to the HOF, it doesn't matter - he was worth more in trade value.  If BJ blows it up - wait, who am I kidding, he's trash.


Either way, this team will be a breath of fresh air.  Our farm system is replenished and Hart made the unpopular moves now so the fans wouldn't rip Coppy apart once he takes over.  This has been a beautifully orchestrated off-season that has left the Braves in a much better place (if we're serious about winning a WS instead of celebrating Wild Card berths with banners).


Enjoy the ride.  Change is finally here!  

mdet
mdet

The National are in last place.

armchair
armchair

Not sure why the writer criticizes the decision not to close the roof. If the decision is to wait through a brief (15-minute )shower and keep the roof open, or close it for the entire game, then the Marlins made the right decision. If you know it's just a passing shower of a kind that florida is famous for, why not  wait briefly and then play the game outdoors---which is always preferable to indoors. 

ZAZ
ZAZ

@armchair I agree. A lot of ridiculing from the ATL people; wasted time and not a big deal. Some need to immerse themselves in more substantive dialogue.

GoBraves7777
GoBraves7777

Some so-called 'fans' amaze me.   We have a fun, fiery, exciting team.  One that knows how to play small ball....one that doesn't strike out 20 times waiting for the long ball.   We win on opening day.  Great starting pitching.....flawless middle relief.....Grilli not blinking in a 1-2-3 ninth against the middle of their order.   Our defense is spectacular.  And our speed put pressure on their defense which lead to 2 runs.  We win the game.   And what do we hear from the fair-weather fans? Complaints.

This is a FUN team to watch with heart and passion....so much better then last year's strike-out bore-fest.

GO BRAVES!!

southgabrave
southgabrave

I believe, they k'ed 7 times, not impressive there

southgabrave
southgabrave

They did win with little offense and good pitching. It's the 1st game and don't think the pitching is good enough to win many 2-1 games

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

Johnson was downright NASTY yesterday... 95 mph and about a 2 foot sink!  Grilli throwing 95 and the Braves win...LOVE IT that you haters have nothing to say at least for today.


GO BRAVES!  and that's with 2 starters on the bench in Gomes and CJ

DawgHawkFalconFan
DawgHawkFalconFan

I am a very positive guy and will support this team albeit with lower expectations.  This team will most like have a ceiling of about .500 ball.  Less strikeouts but not necessarily more runs.  While I enjoyed smallball yesterday 2 runs wont win most days.  While Grilli looked great we would have been even better in bullpen with Kimbrell and Grilli.  Trade will probably be a plus in the long run and this year looked like a longshot before this trade.  Only move I have had a real problem with was the Gattis trade due to his contract control and hitting for the price.  Team could have contended with him in place.  If Bethancourt is the 5 hitter we will not score much IMO.  Go Braves!!  First place baby.  

Stingshuh?
Stingshuh?

I think the majority of the "Fans" are PO'ed they won?...........................the sky was falling.

pbond3
pbond3

Lets see.......Kimbrel is gone, and all the mindless dolts are up arms. Along comes the 1st save situation in the very first game, and its successful. Yet the dolts all told us that CK is the only one good enough to close games for the Braves.

Bottom line is this: compared to a good catcher or starting pitcher or shortstop, a closer is simply not that hard to replace, even if it is CK. As the season progresses, you will see that having a closer is one of the least of the Braves' worries.

  "With all thy getting, get understanding."

Reidtt
Reidtt

Wait! I thought you said just yesterday that the Braves were done because they traded Kimbrell??????? The AJC has to have THE WORST sports writers in the world. You are just as bad as the FAIR WEATHER Fans in Atlanta. What a joke.

HeyThere
HeyThere

@Chopp @Reidtt Seriously y'all? It's baseball. they play 3 million games and are not going to be a good team just because they won that one.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I've said for a few years now that I'm sick of watching high paid stars strikeout. Gotta give these guys a chance and hope for some magic. Go braves.

GT71
GT71

I'll have to check my DVR, Schultz, but I think I saw a mound tarp being applied.  And they DO have an infield tarp - just not readily accessible.

2nd, that was a beautifully played 7th inning.  The DP play was perfectly executed.

3rd, Grilli may not look as intimidating as Kimbrel, but the pitches were the same...but Grilli has a really nice curveball - Kimbrel has an erratic slider.  I'll take Grilli, thank you very much. Especially for the $$$.

MLB is a business of numbers and the Braves are finally getting it right.  Good pitching, good defense and an ABC offense.

I like it.

Joe Tess' Mom
Joe Tess' Mom

Great win, but that rain delay... Seems like those boobs would notice some rain in the area (hello, South Florida??) and get the lid shut before the wetness came down. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

@Stingshuh? Sorry, dude, I tried to reply to you down here, but it ended up at the top of the page.

Stingshuh?
Stingshuh?

Hundreds of negative post yesterday, moaning and griping about management and the trade of Kimbrel........they win and we have 8 posts?..........nice.

5150POAD
5150POAD

A NATIONAL: CHAMPIONSHIP game in basketball was played and a meaningless baseball game gets all the coverage?

Well KenSUCKY wasn't in the game and no SEC team played so i guess it didn't happen in the SOUTH.

The PATHETIC AJC shows it's true colors again. 

GoBraves7777
GoBraves7777

@5150POAD Ummm...last time I checked, the Braves are our local baseball team and it was opening day.  Why would I care about college basketball teams from Kentucky and North Carolina when its Braves opening day.....I live here in Georgia, not in those states.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@5150POAD Peepee on the freakin' idiots who write for this useless piece of horsedung of a supposed big city paper!! The AJC sucks in every possible way.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

Good chatting in-game today Jeff.  I'm guessing there's still free popcorn and frozen yogurt in the pressbox cafe

SeanLB
SeanLB

I think fans will come to enjoy watching this team play.  They may not be WS contenders, but they also won't strike out 15 times a game - something that was simply impossible to watch and enjoy.


There is a plan in place, Braves Nation.  Give it a year and things will all make sense.  

northbysoutheast
northbysoutheast

@SeanLB Exactly. It's crazy how so much nonsensical negativity is thrown at this team. First they were calling for Wren's head and crying to get back to early 90s "Braves baseball." Well, now we're getting it and people can't seem to stop complaining. The whining about the Kimbrel trade has taken it to a whole 'nother level. I like him as much as the next person, but a guy that was going to pitch 2 or 3 innings a week (at best) in not worth nearly what we got for him. Good trade and good game. Go Braves!

GreeneHornet
GreeneHornet

Exactly right Sean. Hits and no Ks will replace HRs. Good defense and timely pitching will keep us in the game. Speed and being on base will replace solo HRs with no one on base. Where did all this "We need HRS" come from? Last year we said we needed less Ks and more speed/ leadoff hitter. We have that. Maybe we have no name players that ESPN won't show because they aren't the Yankees and Red Sox, but the Hawks have the same problem.

The Braves will be okay. Just look at those folks who loved Lebron, the Heat, the Celtics, and the Lakers but now are coming back home to the Hawks. Don't leave the Braves. They aren't going to be as bad as you think.