If it takes being very, very bad to be very, very good, then the Braves should be very, very good very, very soon.
This team is startlingly awful.
They ignore the laws of baseball. This team plays by Murphy’s Law.
When they make a mistake, which occurs with alarming regularity, they always manage to compound it. Instantly, any bad situation worsens.
Case in point: Julio Teheran, the alleged ace of the staff, managed to negotiate his way through six innings (and 101 pitches) Saturday with the score tied at two.
Enter Bud Norris. Demoted from the starting rotation faster than you can say Eric Stults, his next demotion probably involves being designated for assignment.
Norris walked the first batter he faced. Wellington Castillo immediately came around to score the winning run on the ensuing double by Brandon Drury.
And how did Teheran surrender his two runs? Glad you asked. In the third inning, he allowed a leadoff single to Shelby Miller. Even though hitting eighth in the Diamondbacks lineup, Miller is still a pitcher.
After striking out Nick Ahmed, Teheran gave up a single to Jean Segura.
The game turned on the next play. Naturally, the Braves new shortstop figured prominently. Erick Aybar won’t soon be mistaken for Andrelton Simmons.
John Lamb doubled to right. The relay throw from Daniel Castro to second caromed off Aybar. To be fair, umpire Carlos Torres allowed himself to be far too intimately involved with the action.
Aybar had no excuse for his next move. After frantically gathering up the loose ball, instead of tossing to third to nail Lamb, he hurled it home in a vain attempt to nail Segura.
That’s all it took for the Braves to make a winner of Miller for only the second time since last May 17. No small feat that, but the Braves were up to the task.
And as Aybar scrambled for that elusive baseball, grabbed it, and immediately flung it in the wrong direction, a single thought came to the fore:
“These clowns are the ’62 Mets.”
Sunday, there was Aybar, at it again. Bobbling a little league grounder, botching a certain doubleplay. Sure enough, right on cue, pitcher Patrick Corbin tripled for the game’s first run.
Corbin’s triple, and a Chris Herrmann home run in the seventh (on an 0-2 pitch) were the only mistakes made by Mike Foltynewicz in his best big league start.
The Braves even staged their grandest rally of the season, scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game.
They managed to lose in 11. On a two-run homer by Herrmann. On an 0-2 pitch. In one afternoon, Herrmann doubled his season home run output.
The schedule mercifully granted the beleaguered Braves a day off Monday. That gave them plenty of time to contemplate their 7-23 record.
Projected over 162 games, they’d post a 38-124 mark. Four more losses than the biggest losers of all time, the ’62 Mets.
Are these Braves really that bad?
Worse, perhaps. After 30 games, the ’62 Mets were 11-19. That was after losing their first nine.
Just like the ’16 Braves.
After running their record to 12-19 by winning 9 of 12, the Mets managed to lose 17 straight from May 21 through June 6. This streak caused manager Casey Stengel to inquire, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”
Can the Braves maintain their pace? Or, rather, the ’62 Mets pace? The numbers say they’ve got a chance.
Those Mets had the worst pitching in the National League. They were last in earned run average (5.04) by a whopping half a run per game! They were also last in wins, saves, runs, hits, home runs, hit batsmen and strikeouts.
The Mets hitters were last in average, but next-to-last in runs, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage.
The Braves pitchers now rank last in the National League in wins, 11th in ERA, walks, and strikeouts and 12th in saves.
The Braves hitters rank dead last in the league in runs, average, hits, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging percentage, home runs, doubles and total bases. They’re 12th in on-base percentage!
They’re also last in the league in fielding percentage, but have allowed only 12 unearned runs in 30 games.
The ’62 Mets, masters of the give-away run, allowed an incredible 147 unearned runs in 160 games.
The Braves haven’t reached that level of futility.