Tag Archives: Brian McCann

Slumping Braves arrive in South Philly to face hot Phillies

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Mike Soroka takes mound for opener of key weekend series

The first-place Atlanta Braves (60-43) arrive at Citizens Bank Park for a three-game weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies (54-48) following a Thursday off-day in the schedule for both clubs.

The Braves are struggling a bit, having dropped six of their last eight games. Meanwhile, the Phillies have come out on top in seven of their last 10 games. They have won five of six games for just the third time all season.
Despite those recent results, Atlanta still maintains control in the NL East Division standings. They are 4.5 games ahead of the second place Washington Nationals, and 5.5 ahead (five in the loss column) of the third place Phillies.
The Phillies will enter this series just one game off the pace in the race for the final NL Wildcard playoff spot. In the Friday night opener, the Phillies will be looking for a fourth straight victory for what would be the fifth time this season. They have not yet won five in a row during all of 2019. They will also be trying to win six of seven for the first time all year.
These two division rivals have already met nine times this year with the Phillies capturing five of those games. When last they met at the start of the month, the Braves took two of three in Atlanta. The hosts scored 21 runs in a pair of blowouts by 9-2 and 12-6 scores in the final two games after an Aaron Nola shutout had given the Phillies a win in that series opener.
Averaging 5.22 runs per game, the Braves are the third-most productive offense in the National League. Their collective OPS of .790 is ranked sixth in all of Major League Baseball. But during this recent eight-game struggle, Atlanta’s offense has averaged only 3.375 runs per game.
The Braves are coming off a 2-0 shutout at the hands of the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. It was just the third time that Atlanta has been white-washed all year. The last time, after putting up a goose egg against Nola and the Phillies, their hitters broke out with 21 runs over the following two games. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again this time.

ATLANTA BRAVES

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Freddie Freeman (29/1B): .303/.388/.563, 25 HR, 53 XBH, 79 RBIs, 75 runs, 4 steals
Ronald Acuna Jr.(21/CF): .292/.377/.504, 24 HR, 38 XBH, 58 RBIs, 79 runs, 22 steals
Ozzie Albies (22/2B): .284/.342/.469, 14 HR, 42 XBH, 51 RBIs, 62 runs, 8 steals
Josh Donaldson (33/3B): .259/.376/.520, 23 HR, 45 XBH, 60 RBIs, 58 runs, 3 steals
Nick Markakis (35/RF): .286/.358/.431, 9 HR, 33 XBH, 55 RBIs, 56 runs, 2 steals
Dansby Swanson (25/SS): .265/.468, 17 HR, 41 XBH, 57 RBIs, 64 runs, 7 steals

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Brian McCann (35/C): The now 35-year-old catcher was born in Athens, just about 60 miles from Atlanta. The lefty hitter was the Braves second round choice way back in the 2002 MLB Draft out of a Georgia high school and reached the big-leagues in 2005. By the next season he was beginning a stretch of six straight and seven of eight NL All-Star seasons, establishing himself as the top offensive catcher in the game.
In December 2013, McCann signed a five-year, $85 million contract as a free agent with the New York Yankees. With the Yanks, McCann won a 2015 AL Silver Slugger. Then in November 2016 he was dealt to the Houston Astros. Splitting time with Evan Gattis behind the plate in Houston, McCann helped lead the Astros to the first World Series championship in franchise history in 2017.
A free agent once again this past off-season, McCann opted to return home as a veteran influence for a young, talented Braves ball club. He has split time as the left-handed half of a platoon with the righty hitting Tyler Flowers. Facing mostly right-handed pitching, McCann has thrived with a .274/.336/.458 slash line, 9 home runs and 34 RBIs.
McCann has been a Phillies killer over the course of his career. His 23 home runs against them are the most of the 279 which he has blasted in his career against any opponent, and the 85 RBIs and 30 doubles are second-most. He has 13 career homers and 19 doubles at Citizens Bank Park.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

21-year-old right-hander Mike Soroka made the NL All-Star team this year as a rookie. He pitches the series opener on Friday night for Braves. (Erik Drost)
FRIDAY – Mike Soroka (21/RH): 10-2, 2.46 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1.094 WHIP, 88 hits allowed over 102.1 IP across 17 starts with an 86/24 K:BB. Soroka is a native of Alberta, Canada who was the Braves first round pick at 28th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft out of high school. Still considered a rookie this year after making five starts in 2018, Soroka is one of the leading NL Rookie of the Year contenders. He made his first NL All-Star team earlier this month. The Phillies hit him hard on Independence Day in Atlanta, and yet still were romped as the Braves offense covered.
SATURDAY – Max Fried (25/LH): 10-4, 4.08 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.389 WHIP, 113 hits allowed over 103.2 IP across 21 appearances (19 starts) with a 102/31 K:BB. Fried is a SoCal native who was the San Diego Padres first round choice at 7th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft out of high school. He came to Atlanta in a December 2014 trade as part of a package in return for Justin Upton. The southpaw has been on the 10-day IL with a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand, but is expected to be activated for this start. He has already faced the Phillies three times this year, twice in relief during the opening series of the season at Citizens Bank Park, and again in a start on June 14 in Atlanta. The Phillies ripped him for seven hits (including two homers) and five runs in that outing, driving him from the game after 4.2 innings.
SUNDAY – Kevin Gausman (28/RH): 3-5, 5.71 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.428 WHIP, 75 hits allowed over 69.1 IP across 14 starts with a 72/24 K:BB. Gausman is a Colorado native who was the first round choice at fourth overall in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles out of LSU. He was dealt to the Braves at last year’s trade deadline along with reliever Darren O’Day in exchange for a four-prospect package. Gausman missed most of June and July while on the IL suffering from plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He returned on July 21 and was sensational in a big start against the Washington Nationals, going seven strong innings, striking out eight while walking none and allowing just one run on five hits in a 7-1 win for Atlanta.

THE SKIPPER

Brian Snitker: We have covered Snitker in detail during previous series opposition previews this year. He is a 63-year-old native of Illinois who attended the University of New Orleans. The Braves are 281-270 in his tenure over parts of four seasons, and he guided the club to the NL East crown a year ago.
Here is his official bio from the Atlanta Braves website: Brian Snitker bio

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

FRIDAY:  It will be mostly sunny and 85 degrees with nearly the same real-feel conditions at the 7:05 PM first pitch. No chance of precipitation with winds light and temps dropping through the 80’s to the upper-70’s as the game rolls on.
SATURDAY: Mostly sunny and in the upper-80’s at the 7:05 PM first pitch, with real-feels again the same, winds again light, and once again almost no chance of precipitation.
SUNDAY: A sunny afternoon with highs around 90 degrees at the 1:05 PM first pitch. For a third straight game in the series it is expected that there will be no chance of precipitation and light winds, with real-feels the same as the temps.
South Philly weekend weather forecast from The Weather Channel

Phillies head to Atlanta for key early July series with first-place Braves

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The Freeze will be doing his race thing this weekend in Atlanta

The Philadelphia Phillies (44-40) slumped during the month of June, and watched as the defending NL East Division champion Atlanta Braves (50-35) stormed past them to take over the division lead.

With the calendar flipped to a new month, the Phillies hope to make a clean start. They will try to begin pecking away at the Braves five-game lead in the loss column during a three-game series this week at SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
The two teams have met for two series in the 2019 season’s first half. At Citizens Bank Park in late March, the Phillies swept the Braves, setting the stage for the first two months which saw the Phillies hold the division lead for all but seven days.
In mid-June, Atlanta took two of three games in front of their home fans at SunTrust Park, winning the opener in walkoff fashion and then blowing the doors off the Phillies with a 15-1 thrashing on Father’s Day.

ATLANTA BRAVES

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Freddie Freeman: .312/.399/.592, 22 homers, 47 extra-base hits, 65 RBIs, 63 runs, 3 steals
Ronald Acuna Jr. .295/.376/.513, 20 homers, 33 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs, 64 runs, 13 steals
Ozzie Albies: .281/.342/.465, 13 homers, 32 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs, 51 runs, 6 steals
Nick Markakis: .275/.354/.426, 8 homers, 27 extra-base hits, 48 RBIs, 54 runs, 0 steals
Dansby Swanson: .269/.332/.483, 15 homers, 36 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs, 55 runs, 7 steals
Josh Donaldson: .253/.358/.478, 15 homers, 35 extra-base hits, 39 RBIs, 44 runs, 2 steals
Austin Riley: .273/.326/.582, 14 homers, 22 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs, 32 runs, 0 steals (just 43 game; promoted 5/15)

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Brian McCann: .267/.339/.466, 8 homers, 13 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs, 17 runs scored.
The 35-year-old played the first nine seasons of his now 15-year big-league career in Atlanta after the club originally selected him in the second round of the 2002 MLB Draft out of a local Georgia high school. He became a 7x NL All-Star during that first stint with the club and won five Silve Slugger Awards, becoming recognized as the top offensive catcher in the National League over the first decade of the 21st century.
McCann became a free agent following the 2013 season and signed with the New York Yankees, where he won an American League Silver Slugger in the 2015 campaign. The Yanks dealt him to the Houston Astros in November 2016, and McCann helped Houston to win the franchise (and his) first World Series championship in 2017.
A free agent once again this past off-season, McCann returned to the Braves, inking a one-year deal. He has proven a bargain at $2 million bucks, taking on the role of the lefty side of a catching platoon with the righty-swinging Tyler Flowers.
McCann is a noted Phillies-killer, slashing .280/.351/.484 with 23 home runs. That marks the most that he has blasted against any one team, and he has consistently produced at key moments over 136 career games against the Phillies. He produced a three-hit game that included one of those homers back on June 14 during a 9-8 Phillies victory in Atlanta.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Dallas Keuchel: 31-year-old veteran lefty is 1-1, 5.06 ERA, 1.781 WHIP, 16 hits over 10.2 IP with a 5/3 K:BB. Signed with the Braves as a free agent on June 6 and joined the big club after making two minor league tuneup starts. This will be just his third start in an Atlanta uniform, his first in front of the home crowd. Keuchel has made two career starts vs the Phillies, but those were way back in 2012 and 2014 while he was with the Houston Astros.
SATURDAY – Bryse Wilson: 21-year-old rookie right-hander is ranked as the Braves #5 prospect. He has pitched in three big-league games, making two starts, allowing 11 hits over 8.2 IP with a 10/5 K:BB. Wilson started against the Phillies back on March 30, allowing 4 earned runs on 5 hits over just 3.1 innings and surrendering a homer run to Maikel Franco.
SUNDAY – Mike Soroka: One of the leading contenders for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, the 21-year-old righty has been named to the NL All-Star team. He has gone 9-1, 2.13 ERA, 0.980 WHIP. Soroka has allowed 64 hits over 84.2 IP with a 67/19 K:BB over 14 starts after debuting in 2018 with five solid starts. This will be his first time facing the Phillies.

THE SKIPPER

Guys are starting to feel it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said per Mark Bowman for MLB.comafter his squad crushed the Phillies on Father’s Day. “I kind of felt as the weather got warm we’d get going.” Man, have they ever got going? Snitker’s club has gone 32-15 since ending a four-game losing skid on May 9 that left them two games below the .500 mark.
The 63-year-old Snitker worked his way up the ladder in the Braves organization, taking over as skipper during the 2016 campaign. He has fashioned an overall 271-262 record as the manager, leading the Braves to the 2018 NL East crown.

THE BALLPARK

SunTrust Park is located 10 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta. The ballpark opened for the 2017 season, and has a regular capacity of just over 41,000 seats.
Dimensions at the ballpark are 335 to left and 325 feet down the right field line. It is 375 to right-center and 385 out to left-center, and a shot to dead-center field will have to clear the fence at an even 400 feet away.
The Freeze‘ is a between innings foot-race attraction, as a lucky (?) gets a chance with a large head start to defeat a member of the Braves grounds crew in a foot race.

Braves walkoff Phillies in series opener at SunTrust Park

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Brian McCann mobbed at home plate after game-winning hit

The Atlanta Braves (41-29) showed a ton of heart, taking the opening game of a key road series by a 9-8 score on Friday night over the visiting Philadelphia Phillies (38-31) at SunTrust Park.

The Phillies led almost the entire night, and appeared to be on their way to an exhilarating victory. But the Braves never surrendered, battling back every time the Phillies tried to open their lead wider.
In the end, it came down to Atlanta having to overcome a two-run deficit with the Phillies closer on the mound in the bottom of the 9th inning. A closer who was celebrating his 30th birthday, and who hadn’t blown a save opportunity since last May.
The Phillies got on the board first, stringing together three consecutive base hits in the top of the 2nd inning from Jay BruceScott Kingery, and Sean Rodriguez against Atlanta starter Max Fried. But in the bottom of the frame, the Braves got that one right back when Josh Donaldson led off with a solo home run.
The tie didn’t last for long. Bryce Harper ripped his 12th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the top of the 3rd inning, to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead. Kingery made it 4-1 when he led off the top of the 4th with a solo homer, his 8th of the season.

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Harper’s homer is his 12th of the season. He’s an equal opportunity blaster: six vs lefties, six vs righties.

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In the top of the 5th, some wildness from Fried with two outs allowed the Phillies to get another run. After he had retired the first two Phillies batters,the Braves southpaw yielded a base hit to J.T. Realmuto and then walked Rhys Hoskins. Fried then threw two wild pitches, with Realmuto moving to third on the first one and scoring on the second. The run made it a 5-1 lead for the visitors.
Freddie Freeman led off the bottom of the 5th with his 19th homer of the year to make it a 5-2 ball game. But the Braves defense would let them down big-time in the top of the 6th inning. With two outs, second baseman Ozzie Albies‘ error allowed Realmuto to reach base. He was followed by Hoskins, who lined a missile over the dead-center field wall. The 15th home run of the season for the Phillies first baseman pushed the lead back out to a 7-2 margin.
The Braves came right back with two of their own in the home half of the 7th. Brian McCann cranked the third leadoff homer of the night for the hosts to cut their deficit down to 7-3. Then with two outs, Ronald Acuna doubled, Dansby Swanson walked, and that was all for Phillies starter Nick Pivetta.
The right-hander looked strong for much of the night against a tough lineup. He allowed four earned runs, three of those scoring on the leadoff home runs. Pivetta struck out six and walked two in making a career-high 116 pitches.
Gabe Kapler sent to his bullpen for Vince Velasquez, and the recently converted starter immediately surrendered an RBI single to Freeman, cutting the Phillies lead to 7-4. But with the tying run at the plate, Velasquez struck out Donaldson to end the threat.
Kingery led off the top of the 8th with a double for his third hit of the ball game. He was bunted over to third by Rodriguez and then raced home to score on a deep RBI sacrifice fly by Cesar Hernandez, and the Phillies lead was back out to 8-4.
The Braves kept coming in the bottom of the 8th, however. Jose Alvarez walked Nick Markakis to lead off the frame. Markakis moved to second on a soft ground out by McCann, then scored on a base hit by Albies to make it 8-5.

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Ozzie Albies stays hot and drives home Nick Markakis with an RBI single. The @Braves are back within three in the eighth inning.

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Braves skipper Brian Snitker then sent up Charlie Culberson to pinch-hit, and Culberson delivered with a triple to the deep right field corner. Albies raced home, and the relentless Braves had cut the deficit to 8-6.
Kapler went to his closer, Hector Neris in the bottom of the 9th inning to try and close it out. Celebrating his 30th birthday and not having blown a save opportunity since last May 11, Neris gave up a lead single to Swanson. Atlanta would bring the tying run to the plate with their 3-4-5 hitters due up.
Freeman went up 3-0 in the count, but Neris battled back to strike out the Braves most dangerous hitter for the first out. Donaldson then grounded to third for the second out. Neris then walked Markakis on four pitches, and Atlanta had the winning run at the plate in the form of rookie Austin Riley.
Riley laced a line drive double to left to score Swanson and make it an 8-7 ball game. The ball took a wild bounce on Jay Bruce, but the Phillies left fielder made a nice play to keep the tying run at third base.
With runners at second and third and two outs, one of the great Phillies killers of the last decade stepped to the plate in McCann. The Braves catcher would keep that title, dropping a 2-2 base hit into left-center, scoring Markakis with the tying run and Riley with the game-winner.

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Down 2 going to the bottom of the 9th…

The @Braves really wanted that 8th straight win.

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In the end, the bullpen surrendered five runs on six hits over the final 2.1 innings. Neris blew his first save after 17 straight successful conversions. There is no other way to frame it than to call this one an absolutely crushing, deflating, demoralizing loss for the Phillies. They have now dropped nine of their last 14 games while the Braves won their ninth straight to open up a 2.5 game lead in the division.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

PHILLIES – Nick Pivetta: 6.2 IP, 8 hits (3 homers), 4 earned, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts. 116 pitches, 80 for strikes.
BRAVES – Max Fried: 4.2 IP, 7 hits (2 homers), 5 earned, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. 98 pitches, 61 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: BRIAN MCCANN

The Braves backstop went 3-5 with a home run and the game-winning, two-run walkoff single in the bottom of the 9th inning. The homer was his 23rd against the Phillies, more than any other opponent over his 15-year big-league career. The two RBIs on his walkoff base hit gave him exactly 1,000 on his career.

TICKET IQ NEXT GAME


Phillies visit Braves for a June 2019 first-place showdown series

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Phillies visit SunTrust Park for big series with Braves

The Philadelphia Phillies (38-30) sat alone at the top of the National League East Division standings for seven straight weeks, covering every day from April 25 through last weekend.

Losses in eight of their last 13 games, including three of their four games so far this week, opened the door for the Atlanta Braves (40-29) to make a move.
The Braves took full advantage, winning 10 of their last 12 to surge past the Phillies and into first place in the division. Atlanta is now riding a seven-game winning streak.
The two rivals will meet for the second time this year over the weekend, and the NL East Division lead will be directly on the line. The site will be SunTrust Park in Atlanta this time, after the Phillies swept the Braves out of Citizens Bank Park in the season’s very first series back in late March.
The Braves have performed far better statistically in the 2019 season. Their 5.17 runs-per-game ranks fifth in the National League, while the Phillies 4.87 is the league’s seventh-ranked mark. At the plate, the Braves out-rank the Phillies in OPS (4-9), home runs (5-11), and stolen bases (8-15) in the NL.

On the mound among the 15 NL teams, the Braves out-rank the Phillies in batting average against (7-13) and OPS against (9-13), though Phillies hurlers have a slightly better ERA.
The Phillies just got reliever Edubray Ramos back from the Injured List, and hope to have reliever Pat Neshek and outfielder Roman Quinn back for this series.
This is an early gut-check for the Phillies. Struggling for the last couple of weeks, they now look up in the standings at their weekend hosts. They will have to listen to Braves fans doing the obnoxious ‘Tomahawk Chop’ any time the home team does anything positive. How the Phillies respond to this challenge over the next three days will reveal much about their own collective character.

ATLANTA BRAVES

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Freddie Freeman: The 10-year veteran first baseman is well on his way to a fourth NL All-Star nod, slashing .311/.401/.592 and leading the Braves with 18 homers, 37 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs, and 49 runs scored.
Nick Markakis: 35-year-old, 14-year big-league veteran right fielder is slashing .276/.368/.431 with 35 RBIs. He is second on the club with 43 runs scored.
Ronald Acuna Jr. The 21-year-old center fielder was last year’s NL Rookie of the Year and is not suffering a sophomore slump. He is slashing .285/.365/.493 and is second on the team with 15 homers and 45 RBIs and leads them with nine steals.
Dansby Swanson: 25-year-old shortstop has broken out with 13 homers, 27 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 42 runs scored, and six stolen bases.
Ozzie Albies: 22-year-old second baseman has 10 homers, 26 extra-base hits, 41 runs scored, and five steals.
Austin Riley: The NL’s Rookie of the Month for May, the 22-year-old rookie left fielder is hitting .290 with a .617 slugging percentage and has 10 homers and 29 RBIs even though he wasn’t called up until May 15.
Brian McCann: 35-year-old, 15-year big-league veteran catcher is the lefty side of an almost straight platoon. He is hitting .272 with five homers and 24 RBIs in just 134 plate appearances.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Josh Donaldson: A 33-year-old, nine-year big-league veteran third baseman, Donaldson signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the Braves as a free agent back in late November. The 2015 AL MVP while with the Toronto Blue Jays is a 3x American League All-Star and has a pair of Silver Slugger Awards on his mantlepiece.
Donaldson has been a bit of a disappointment with Atlanta, slashing just .236/.349/.419 with nine homers and 27 RBIs. After starring with the Blue Jays, Donaldson suffered through an injury-marred season a year ago and was dealt to the Cleveland Indians, helping the Tribe to the AL Central crown with a solid performance down the stretch.
There is every chance that Donaldson is simply a one-year rental for Atlanta, with Riley taking over at his own more natural position beginning next season. For now, having Donaldson bust out with anything resembling his former Toronto MVP form would be a major boost to the already dangerous Braves lineup.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Max Fried (25/L): 7-3, 3.75 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 74 hits over 72 IP across 15 games (13 starts) with a 66/19 K:BB
SATURDAY – Sean Newcomb (26/L): 1-0, 2.59 ERA, 1.340 WHIP, 32 hits over 31.1 IP across 19 games (3 starts) with a 26/10 K:BB
SUNDAY – Mike Foltynewicz (27/R): 1-5, 6.02 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 52 hits over 49.1 IP across nine starts with a 42/13 K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

Tyler Flowers: splits the catching duties with McCann as the right-handed hitting half. Flowers has five homers and 11 extra-base hits over just 138 plate appearances.
Johan Camargo: 25-year-old was the Braves starting third baseman a year ago, but has become a utility player this year with the addition of Donaldson. He has been used at five different defensive positions and has 10 extra-base hits over 128 plate appearances.
Matt Joyce: 34-year-old, 12-year big-league veteran is a nice lefty bat off the bench with nine extra-base hits over just 75 plate appearances. He was a 2011 AL All-Star while with Tampa Bay.
Charlie Culberson: Utility man is slashing .354/.396/.625 over just 53 plate appearances with a half-dozen extra-base hits.
Luke Jackson: The 27-year-old righty has taken the Braves closer job and produced 10 saves with a 3.18 ERA and 1.235 WHIP. He has allowed 33 hits over 34 innings with a 49/9 K:BB ratio.
Josh Tomlin: Former starter with the Cleveland Indians, the 34-year-old, 10-year big-league veteran righty has allowed 31 hits over 35 innings across 23 appearances with a 22/3 K:BB.
A.J. Minter: Hard-throwing 25-year-old lefty could one day be the club’s closer. He was just activated earlier this week after spending nearly a month on the IL, and has struck out 18 over 13 innings this season.
Jacob Webb: 25-year-old right-hander has allowed 17 hits over 19.1 innings with a 20/10 K:BB.

THE SKIPPER

Brian Snitker is a 63-year-old who has been in the Braves organization in one role or another for more than four decades, starting as a player and winding through the minor league coaching ranks. He served as the Braves bullpen coach in the late-1980’s, and was their third base coach from 2007-13.
In May 2016, Snitker was named as the interim manager to replace Fredi Gonzalez, who was fired with the club in last place. Five months later he was named the full-time skipper and is now in his third full season at the helm. He guided the club to the NL East crown a year ago, losing in four games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in an NLDS.

THE BALLPARK

This is now the Braves third season playing at the ballpark, which is located in Cumberland, Cobb County, just 10 miles from the downtown Atlanta area. The ballpark is named for the local SunTrust Bank in a 25-year naming rights deal. A merger of that bank with BB&T will result in an eventual name change following this season.
SunTrust is billed as having the highest percentage of seats closer to the field than any ballpark in Major League Baseball. There is also air conditioning piped to every level of the ballpark to help during the hot Atlanta summer days.
There is a Monument Garden area displaying highlights of the franchise history. It is located in the concourse behind home plate, and features a statue of Baseball Hall of Fame living legend Hank Aaron, who played with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves for 21 seasons.
Dimensions down the line are 335 feet to left, 325 feet to right. The power alleys are roughly 375 (RC) and 385 (LC) feet, out to a 400-foot dead-center field wall. In the 2019 season, SunTrust ranks behind only Coors Field in Denver, Colorado and Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio in ESPN’s ‘Park Factors‘ as an offensive-leaning ballpark.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

FRIDAY: sunny and upper-70’s at 7:20 pm first pitch with light winds and almost zero chance of rain
SATURDAY: partly cloudy and low-80’s at 7:20 pm first pitch with light winds and almost zero chance of rain
SUNDAY: mostly sunny and mid-80s at 1:20 pm first pitch with light winds and just a 5% chance of rain
(Forecast supplied via The Weather Channel)

Rival Braves make big moves to put pressure on Phillies

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The Braves announced Josh Donaldson as one of two free agent signings

If I’ve seen it once then I’ve seen it a hundred times or more as the days roll along in this current MLB off-season. When are the Philadelphia Phillies, publicly self-proclaimed as wanting to spend big and heavily-rumored as a link to most of the big names, going to actually make a move?

Well we don’t have to wonder that same thing about the defending National League East Division champion Atlanta Braves. Already loaded with young talent, the Braves struck twice today to improve their lineup.
First, Atlanta brought back long-time catcher Brian McCann as a free agent. McCann will turn 35-years-old just as he is due to report for the club’s final spring training in Kissimmee. He’ll then join them as the Braves later move to their new spring facilities in North Port, Florida.
McCann slammed 176 home runs during his first run with the Braves from 2005-13. One of baseball’s most dangerous offensive catchers during the 2000’s, he was an NL All-Star for six straight and seven overall seasons and won five Silver Slugger Awards, including four in a row at one point.
In December 2013, McCann signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees. In 2015 he won the AL Silver Slugger Award at catcher.
The Yankees dealt him to Houston in December 2016 for a pair of prospects, and McCann helped the Astros win the first World Series championship in franchise history in 2017. He caught every inning of that Fall Classic as Houston won in seven games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It is expected that the lefty-swinging McCann will form a LH-RH catching platoon in 2019, teaming with the righty-hitting Tyler Flowers. McCann missed two full months in the middle of this past season after undergoing knee surgery but is said to be 100% ready to go for the 2019 campaign.
Later in the day, the Braves struck again to shore up another weak spot in their lineup. This time Atlanta announced the signing of third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson will turn 33-years-old in December. He was the American League Most Valuable Player in 2015 as a third baseman with the Toronto Blue Jays after starting his career with the Oakland A’s as a catcher. In addition, he finished among the top 4 in AL MVP voting twice, was an AL All-Star for three straight years, and won a pair of Silver Slugger Awards.
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McCann returns to Atlanta, where he was one of the top catchers of the 2000’s.
The Blue Jays dealt Donaldson away to the Cleveland Indians this past August 31, enabling him to be placed on the Tribe’s postseason roster. He would go just 1-11 as the Indians were swept out of the ALDS by Houston.
Like McCann, Donaldson’s 2018 season was injury-marred. He missed three-and-a-half months due to an injured left calf muscle. He appeared to be healthy once activated by Cleveland in mid-September, slashing .280/.400/.520 with three homers and seven RBI over 60 plate appearances in 16 games.
Both McCann and Donaldson are aging veterans who are injury risks playing past their prime. However, the Braves got each on just a one-year contract, so there is no long-term commitment involved.
If either or both play healthy and closer to their career norms it will add just that much more firepower to an already solid Atlanta lineup that includes first baseman Freddie Freeman, three-time Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, and 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna.
The Phillies and the rest of the National League East Division are on notice. The defending division champions have every intention of not only repeating, but they intend to improve on their 92 victories registered in the 2018 season.