The Braves get mixed results in the opening series with the Reds

ATLANTA – Having won the world championships last year after not producing a winning record until August, the Braves won’t be too concerned about their pre-season results. But with the 2022 season opening up by splitting a four-game streak against the Reds, they gain a better sense of how the next few weeks will unfold.

After recovering from Thursday’s opening day loss with a pair of victories, the Braves watched Ian Anderson struggle in the 6-3 loss Sunday afternoon at Truist Park. Matt Olson’s first home race with Atlanta wasn’t enough to spoil an impressive debut for prospective Cincinnati titleholder Hunter Green. But it did serve as a memorable first series cover for the Braves’ first new mainstay.

“I think there were a lot of positives to build on,” said manager Brian Snicker. “There are a lot of guys that we weren’t really familiar with and we became more familiar with. I think there was a lot of good things that happened this weekend.”

Here are a few things Braves fans may or may not like about the first series.

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It didn’t take Olson long to prove he wouldn’t be upset by the pressures of replacing Freddy Freeman and playing for his hometown team. The Atlanta Suburban native went 8-for-14 with two doubles and Homer during his first four games. In the process, he showed why the Braves were willing to give up some potential ways to get him in a deal with A’s.

Olson’s first home run was a solo shot in the fifth inning against Greene’s 101-mph fastball. The liner over the center court wall was the third Homer a brave player has hit against a floor thrown at 100 mph or harder dating back to 2008, according to Statcast. The others were injured by Eddie Rosario against the Dodgers’ Brusdar Graterol on September 1, 2021, and Chipper Jones against Joel Zumaya on June 26, 2010.

“It feels good,” Olson said. “You want to have good rackets and barrel stuff. Doing that against high speed is always a good sign.”

Five of Olson’s 11 balls had an exit speed of 105 mph or higher. Really, the only thing he would want to erase from his opening weekend might have been thrown off the board twice on Saturday.

“If anyone writes in the Scouting report from Oakland that I was fast, they are lying,” Olson said.

Anderson’s speed
When Anderson released five walks and hit five runs in three strokes in just 2 and 3 innings, the four-stroke speedball averaged just 93.2 mph. The average dropped to 92.9 mph with 10 fast balls thrown during the third inning. Anderson averaged 94.6 mph with this pitch last year and 94.1 mph in 2020.

“I feel like I’m still trying to get everything together and get my receipt together,” Anderson said.

Perhaps the Anderson Filo drop is just an early product of the season for his short spring training. But this is not an encouraging development for the man who relies heavily on his own change. There was only a 5.7 mph difference between the average fastball speed (93.2) and change (87.6). There has been a difference closer to 7-8 mph in the past two years. But the 23-year-old pitcher believes his biggest need is to be patient as he regains the most consistent control of both Fastball and the change.

“You have to create Fastball and you have to create other stadiums,” Anderson said. “I don’t think I did a very good job at it. That kind of led to my lack of [the Reds chasing the changeup]. “

Rotation capability
Charlie Morton looked like an ace during his first start since breaking his leg and Kyle Wright looked like a whole new man during Saturday’s strong start. Yes, Anderson and Max Fried tripped. But each of the eight hits Fried allowed on Thursday was one and four of them had an exit speed of 69.2 mph or less. If Wright builds on his success and Anderson starts to improve over the next two weeks, the champions will have no reason to worry about their rotation.

slow starts
Rosario and Ozzy Albis will share preliminary duties until the return of Ronald Acuna Jr. in May. They combined to go 2 for 26 with five walks during this first series. Dansby Swanson hit eight of his first 12 hitters.

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It might be time to stop thinking of Spencer Strider as a rookie, a role that would only really allow him to develop minor pitches. Strider seemed poised to be the starting man of the setup as he hit five of the six hits he faced during two perfect rounds on opening day.

Strider averaged 99.3 mph with 18 fast balls and inflated the Reds with seven of 11 flips against this fast ball. The young pitcher transitioned from Low-A ball to the Majors during his only full professional season. It now looks set to be the right-hand asset the Braves need inside a bulls base filled with a trio of left-handed setup men – Will Smith, Tyler Matzek and AJ Minter.