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2019 Atlanta Braves Regular Season Thread

387 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, ATLFalcon36 said:

Yep, come out slugging young men. Hoping to watch folty torch some Bryce Harper.

I just hope Julio doesn't pitch in that series. I can only imagine the outcry on here and Twitter if Harper was to homer off Julio in that series.

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2 minutes ago, Falconsfan567 said:

I just hope Julio doesn't pitch in that series. I can only imagine the outcry on here and Twitter if Harper was to homer off Julio in that series.

With the reports of added muscle, velocity and movement - maybe he can return to semi-ace form and be a solid 2 or 3 behind Folty/Newc.

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With Folty and Gausman delayed the first few days I'm sure Julio will start in that series. Newcomb could challenge for Opening Day but Julio will be there im sure.

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9 minutes ago, Unkn0wn said:

With Folty and Gausman delayed the first few days I'm sure Julio will start in that series. Newcomb could challenge for Opening Day but Julio will be there im sure.

I kinda hope he does. The outrage would be delicious, and also it's cool that he'll tie Spahn for consecutive OD starts.

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On 3/7/2019 at 2:23 PM, K26dp said:

I kinda hope he does. The outrage would be delicious, and also it's cool that he'll tie Spahn for consecutive OD starts.

The outrage would be great lmao. 

But for real Julio isn't near as bad as everyone makes him out to be. 

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35 minutes ago, tl;dr said:

The outrage would be great lmao. 

But for real Julio isn't near as bad as everyone makes him out to be. 

He is inconsistent. But like many things in life it is about perspective and expectations. He was a highly touted prospect with ace projections. We experienced a few years were the pitching was weaker than what us Braves fans were accustomed to (spoiled). He was thrust into the #1 role basically and just didn't have ace stuff. 

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3 hours ago, tl;dr said:

The outrage would be great lmao. 

But for real Julio isn't near as bad as everyone makes him out to be. 

Very encouraging news for him this spring is only 1 walk in 7 innings with 10 strikeouts!! Very encouraging!

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2 hours ago, Falconsfan567 said:

Very encouraging news for him this spring is only 1 walk in 7 innings with 10 strikeouts!! Very encouraging!

If he could even be close to that, he will be fine 

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SI's got their team previews and predictions up. You can read them all off of their site, but here's the one for Atlanta:

 

SI's 2019 prediction: 83-79, Fourth in NL East

Key additions: 3B Josh Donaldson, C Brian McCann, OF Nick Markakis (re-signed)

Key departures: C Kurt Suzuki, RHP Aníbal Sánchez, RHP Brad Brach

Projected Lineup

1. CF Ender Inciarte

2. 3B Josh Donaldson

3. 1B Freddie Freeman

4. LF Ronald Acuña Jr.

5. RF Nick Markakis

6. 2B Ozzie Albies

7. C Brian McCann

8. SS Dansby Swanson

Bench

UTIL Johan Camargo

INF Charlie Culberson

OF Adam Duvall

C Tyler Flowers

Projected Rotation

1. RHP Julio Teheran

2. RHP Bryse Wilson 

3. RHP Kyle Wright

4. LHP Sean Newcomb

Bullpen

RHP Arodys Vizcaíno (closer)

RHP Chad Sobotka

RHP Dan Winkler

LHP Jonny Venters

LHP Jesse Biddle

RHP Shane Carle

LHP Sam Freeman

RHP Luke Jackson

Injured List: RHP Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman RHP, LHP A.J. Minter, RHP Darren O’Day

Movin’ On Up! Newcomb didn’t have a sterling 2018, walking too many (4.5 per nine) and posting an ERA near 4. So why believe in him? It helps that the lefty has a knee-buckling, super-high-spin curveball against which batters hit just .139 last year. If he can figure out his control and command issues, he has true ace potential.

Sell! He’s still young, but Swanson hasn’t shown much in his brief career. The former No. 1 pick hit a grisly .238/.304/.395 last season, struck out in 22.9% of his plate appearances, ranked near the bottom of the league in average exit velocity, and was eaten alive by breaking balls (a .152 batting average and 35.3% whiff rate on those pitches in 2018). With Camargo shining last season, Swanson needs to impress early and often to keep his starting shortstop gig.

 

Appreciate This Man! Owner of a career .239/.319/.390 batting line across 10 seasons, Flowers won’t scare you at the plate. But the 33-year-old veteran backstop is one of baseball’s best behind it, ranking fourth among catchers in Baseball Prospectus’ Framing Runs stat last year. He steals strikes with aplomb, and as the man tasked with leading Atlanta’s young rotation through the season alongside fellow graybeard McCann, he’ll need to be on his A-game with the glove once again in 2019.

A Modest Proposal from Joe Sheehan: After winning their first NL East crown since 2013, the Braves mostly sat on their hands this winter. One addition, Brian McCann, will share catching duties with Tyler Flowers, and carry minimal expectations at age 35. The other, Josh Donaldson, was signed to the biggest one-year deal in baseball history, $23 million, and is expected to be a linchpin of the offense. We’re just a year removed from Donaldson getting MVP votes while hitting .270/.385/.559 with 31 home runs for the Blue Jays. His 2018 season was ruined thanks to shoulder and calf injuries that limited him to 52 games, just eight homers and his worst season since he was a rookie. When healthy, and by all accounts he is this spring, Donaldson has been a superstar. The Braves may well have gotten another MVP candidate, to go with Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr., for just a one-year commitment.a

MLB.TV Rating: 8.2

Acuña alone—the closest thing we have to Young Mike Trout—is more than enough reason to tune into Braves baseball. A bevy of highly talented kids in the rotation and the potential of Donaldson turning back the clock to 2014 adds some extra flavor. So, too, will a bullpen that will have Atlanta fans watching through their fingers most nights.

Keep an Eye Out For…: Third baseman Austin Riley is Atlanta’s top position prospect. He’s unlikely to see the show in 2019, but injury or poor performance from Donaldson could accelerate his timeline. Mike Soroka got a brief taste of the majors in 2018 before right shoulder trouble shut him down. He impressed when healthy and should get a chance to do so again for a thin rotation. The Canadian lefty is one of many highly touted pitchers in the Braves’ system: Keep an eye out too for Kyle Wright (the No. 5 pick of the 2017 draft), Kolby Allard (the No. 14 pick in ’15) and Bryse Wilson (a ’16 fourth-rounder) as potential second-half impact pieces.

Scout’s Takes

What is the key question surrounding this team in 2019?

Whether the young pitchers will step up. So far they have in spring training. Kyle Wright, Max Fried and Chad Sobotka have all pitched well. Somebody’s gonna have to take the five-hole. They’ve got some injuries already. If the young kids step up, this is gonna be a very deep and talented team, ’cause that lineup is very good.

 

Who is the most overrated player on the team?

Dansby Swanson. When he originally signed, he was gonna be a much more productive hitter than he’s shown so far. He’s got power. He’s got ability to hit. He just hasn’t done it yet.

Who is the most underrated player on the team?

Ender Inciarte. He’s a tremendous defender and a much better hitter than people think. He’s one of the few guys left in big leagues willing to bunt for a hint. He’ll never hit for high average, but he’s a very good situational hitter and he plays a Gold Glove centerfield.

What young player(s) is/are on the cusp of stardom?

Ronald Acuña is already there. Maybe Johan Camargo or Ozzie Albies. Ozzie started very strong last year but tailed off in the second half. He has to learn how to translate that to 162 games. I think he just wore down. He plays with such excitement that it may have gotten a little ahead of him in the second half.

What young player(s) is/are the biggest bust candidate(s)?

Kevin Gausman. I don’t see the tiger in him. He’s got great stuff, but he’s kind of Louisiana cool. He’s got second-starter stuff, but he’s a fourth starter. He doesn’t step up.

Who gets the most out of his talent?

Freddie Freeman. He is one of the few guys in baseball that understands that you use the whole field. He’ll take base hits to leftfield, he’ll drive the ball out of the ballpark in left-centerfield. They stack three infielders on the right side and he breaks shifts all by himself. One of the reasons Atlanta won the division is he’s a great situational hitter. He’s a solid defender who throws well and can pick the ball out of the dirt well.

Who gets the least out of his talent?

Gausman.

Who has the nastiest stuff on the team?

Mike Foltynewicz, when he’s healthy. He throws hard with good offspeed stuff, and he commands it. He’s not an ace yet, but he’s getting there quick. He needs to be more consistent.

Who has the best baseball instincts/IQ?

Nick Markakis is very steady in the outfield. He’s a great situational hitter. He knows what he has to get done. He drove in 93 runs on only 14 home runs, because he knows how to score runs from second with a base hit, from third with a flyball. He’s very comfortable in Atlanta. That’s why he took less money to go back there. He’s a pro’s pro. He’s a guy that is respected throughout the game for the way he plays the game.

Whose batting practice makes your jaw drop?

Once Acuña realizes he can go out the other way consistently, he’s got a chance to be a great player. He’s got great bat speed. He can turn around anybody’s fastball. He’s still gotta learn the strike zone better, but he’s a kid.

Name two guys on this team that you would immediately trade for.

Freddie Freeman and Acuña. I want Freeman ’cause he’s a winning player and he plays a premier position. Acuña’s got more skills than Bryce Harper.

Whose effort could use a jolt?

I can’t think of any of them, really. This team plays hard. This club’s got a good, solid major league coaching staff.

Who do you want at-bat or on the mound in a season-defining moment?

Freeman. He’s such a professional hitter, he’s gonna give me a good at bat every at bat.

Who don’t you want in that situation?

Tyler Flowers. He’s pretty easy to pitch to. He can hit anything on the inner half where he can extend his arms. He’s a mistake hitter. He doesn’t hit good stuff very well.

Which under-the-radar prospect/non-roster invitee could make a splash this season?

Kyle Wright has a great arm and great feel for the mound. His stuff is crisp. He throws hard, big velocity, good breaking ball.

Is the current manager one that you would hire to run your club?

[Brian Snitker] has managed forever. He’s a big league veteran with a good feel for young players and for getting coaches to teach the game the right way. Ron Washington is the same way. He should get another shot somewhere, but he hasn’t yet because he’s old.

What is the ceiling for the team this year? What about the next three years?

Because of their pitching, their ceiling is win the division and be a World Series contender this year and the next three years. They’re on an upward trajectory.

 

Emptying the Notebook: Julio Teheran was a big velocity guy who lost his velocity. He’s getting it back. He’ll be an innings guy in their rotation. He’s fallen from ace to innings-eating middle-rotation guy. His health is the question. If he can stay healthy, the club will have a very deep rotation.  … I am concerned about Foltynewicz a little, too. I doubt he’ll pitch Opening Day. I think this elbow thing is worse than they want to mention, and Sean Newcomb has pitched well, so it’s not as much of a concern. Gausman’s problem is he aims to please. He wants to please everybody. He’s not soft, but he’s leaning soft. … They have a kid catcher, Alex Jackson, who did nothing last year. He’s swung the bat great in camp. He may make the Opening Day roster as the third catcher. He shouldn’t, because he hasn’t proven himself in-season—he hit .200 at Double A and .204 at Triple A—but he’s caught well and swung the bat well in spring training. … They’re in the playoff hunt for sure.

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ESPN has us #8 in their first power rankings for the season:

8. Atlanta Braves

2019 projected record: 86-76 (second in NL East)
World Series odds: 20-1

Best case: If Josh Donaldson has a healthy comeback season and Ronald Acuna Jr. improves upon his epic rookie season, the Braves have the potential to light up SunTrust Park like a pinball machine. Spring injuries to the pitching staff are a concern, but there are enough high-level arms in Atlanta's organization to make it work. There is a reason the Braves weren't that aggressive during the offseason: This is a stacked system.

Worst case: Alas, you can't assume that Acuna's arc will continue skyward. He's going to be great, but these developments don't always unfold in an orderly fashion. If the league adjusts to him, Donaldson gets hurt again and younger Braves like Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies don't take a step forward, scoring all of a sudden becomes a problem. If that happens, then the club will come under scrutiny for not pursuing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

Make-or-break player: One thought on the Braves' approach to the winter is that they didn't need a decade of Harper or Machado. They needed one season of that, as Acuna and Albies are still on the climb and will soon be joined by the likes of Austin Riley and Christian Pache. That one, star-level season will hopefully be provided by Donaldson, an MVP candidate when healthy. The problem: Donaldson has not been able to stay healthy. -- Doolittle

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Keith Law has projected the season. I'm a bit surprised he doesn't like the Braves any better than this.

NL East

The Nationals lost one of their best players, but they spread the money that might have gone to Bryce Harper across upgrades at multiple positions, and also get to plug in rookie Victor Robles to at least fill some of the gap left in their outfield.

NL East forecast

Washington Nationals     92 -70
Philadelphia Phillies 90 -72
Atlanta Braves 84- 78
New York Mets 83- 79
Miami Marlins 65 -97

The Phillies were a legitimate contender for the division through the end of August last year, but everything went wrong for them in September and they needed to make a few major moves this winter ... which they did, adding Harper, David Robertson, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura. If they fail to win the division or miss the playoffs entirely, it'll probably be a function of their rotation, which is clearly their weak spot and has two starters in it who might be better cast as relievers in Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez. The Braves did almost nothing this winter, which is a bit understandable since their farm system is so full of players close to major league ready and they had few below-average spots on the field or on their pitching staff. But with the three other contenders in the division improving, I'm sure it's disappointing to Atlanta fans to see their team largely stand pat. The Braves have starter depth for days, though, and that will probably keep them competitive all year.

The Mets made a lot of moves that were definitely moves. Some of those moves even made New York a better team. Their roster is weirdly unbalanced in a lot of ways, yet they're strong at multiple positions and in their rotation, with a couple of prospects or young ex-prospects who could break out this year. On the other hand, their fifth starter is Jason Vargas, who is not good; their fourth starter is Steven Matz, who keeps getting hurt; and they really lack depth if anything goes wrong with those two guys. The Marlins are a long way from contending, as their system is just barely starting to recover from years of weak drafts and some ill-advised trades -- Chris Paddack for a few arrows out of Fernando Rodney's quiver looks particularly bad at the moment -- and most of what came back in their big trades is either years away or not looking good so far.

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For what it's worth, I like to look at three things with teams at the start of the season, and it tends to lead me to thinking those teams that have answers for them are going to end up being good.

1. Up-the-middle defense
2. 4th-7th starters
3. Average age of the team

The Braves, IMO, blow away the rest of the NL East in these things. They aren't as sexy as big FA signings, but it's what wins divisions.

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22 minutes ago, Unkn0wn said:

MLB listed Acuna and Freeman in their list of most popular jerseys since the start of 2019.

so awesome those guys are gonna kill it this year

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Surprisingly, the best and fairest offseason evaluation of Atlanta comes from MLBTR (in the article under the one stating that we're a finalist for Salary Deflation Championship Belt):

 

Offseason In Review: Atlanta Braves

By Jeff Todd | March 30, 2019 at 12:31am CDT

This is the latest post of MLBTR’s annual Offseason in Review series, in which we take stock of every team’s winter dealings.

The Braves stuck to their valuations when it came to offseason trade and free agent targets and ultimately made only a few acquisitions, leaving the team largely reliant upon its abundant young talent as it seeks to repeat as division champion.

Major League Signings

Trades And Claims

  • Acquired OF Matt Joyce from Giants in exchange for cash considerations
  • Acquired C Raffy Lopez from Padres in exchange for PTBNL or cash

Minor League Signings

Notable Losses

[Atlanta Braves Depth Chart | Atlanta Braves Payroll Information]

Needs Addressed

Sometimes an offseason involves creative reshuffling, with multiple moves that reshape certain elements of a roster. Other times, you just see your holes and fill ’em up. It was decidedly the latter this time around for the Braves.

There was never any question that the Braves would be hanging onto their young core — including the better portion of their many excellent upper-level prospects. But it was possible to imagine any number of possibilities for GM Alex Anthopoulos and company after the team surprisingly won the National League East last year.

As it turned out, the Braves got their work in early and focused on short-term veterans. Two of those players are quite familiar to the Atlanta faithful. Former star catcher Brian McCann will come back home in a reserve role. He’s a solid veteran and could be a nice value, but there isn’t a ton of upside in the signing.

It’s much the same for outfielder Nick Markakis, who’ll fill the void created by his own departure. Though the Braves reportedly explored other options in right field, they watched several free agents go elsewhere and bypassed trade possibilities to re-up with Markakis. It was a nice price for a guy who won a Silver Slugger last year, but the payout also reflects the skepticism in the 35-year-old’s outlook from the rest of the market. Markakis has been a slightly above average hitter for most of his career and doesn’t seem terribly likely to be anything more than that in 2019.

If those moves prioritized floor over ceiling, the Braves chased the upside with their other signing. Josh Donaldson had been one of the game’s very best players before injuries intervened of late. He’s not particularly young, but isn’t over the hill at 33 years of age. Donaldson slashed 33 long balls with a 151 wRC+ in 2017, so it’s not as if his heyday is well in the rearview mirror.

Adding Donaldson was something of a splurge, in that the Braves had repeatedly given signals they were content with Johan Camargo at third base and also have top prospect Austin Riley waiting in the wings. But it was precisely the kind of move that made sense for a club in this situation. The Braves had ample payroll availability to work with now but were wary of committing too much future spending capacity. They wanted to win now while preserving their long-term contention window. The club has the pieces in place to cover if Donaldson experiences health problems, but was also well-situated to benefit from a premium talent at the hot corner.

Other than that, it was mostly crickets from the Atlanta organization. They brought in veterans Josh Tomlin and Matt Joyce at the tail end of camp to fill out the roster, but there’s no real commitment to either player. That it even proved necessary to grab these sorts of players at the last minute is itself a source of frustration for some fans — and a reflection of the generally cautious approach the Braves ended up taking to outside acquisitions this winter.

Questions Remaining

The Braves are an up-and-coming team that has already arrived. Why, then, is there so much hand-wringing in Atlanta as the season gets underway?

In no small part, it seems to be something of a public relations miscalculation. Many fans have heard all about the Liberty Media overlords. They’re primed for payroll disappointment, familiar with non-committal executive lingo. So when they hear talk about the team’s ability to “shop in any aisle” and are told “there’s no single player that [the team] can’t afford,” they sense a loosening of the pocketbook strings. When they’re told “the payroll will go up for the current year,” they don’t stop to ask whether that means hypothetical spending capacity or actual cash owed on Opening Day; rather, they begin to wonder, “how high?”

The Braves payroll to start the year will actually sit just below the levels carried in the prior two years. While the club says it’s still got more to work with in the middle of the season, that’ll only be deployed if it’s deemed to be warranted. Three division rivals set their sights on mounting challenges, making significant new roster additions to strong existing talent bases. The Braves also clutched onto their many talented, upper-level pitchers when some might have been cashed in to deliver more immediate upgrades. It seems fair to say there’s some risk in the wait-and-see strategy, though it also offers some obvious advantages in preserving resources to address those needs that arise.

The wisdom of hanging onto resources, rather than using them to facilitate bigger acquisitions or patch up issues that have already cropped up, will be tested early. That’s true especially of the pitching staff. There’s loads of talent in Atlanta, but that’s not fully reflected on the current roster. And for every bit of upside, there’s a downside scenario to match.

There’s something symbolic in the fact that Julio Teheran took the ball on Opening Day for the sixth-straight time. For all his positive moments, there were many that believed he ought to be sent out this winter in favor of higher-upside arms. He’s joined by Sean Newcomb, who hasn’t proven capable of taking the next step in the majors, and talented but totally unproven youngsters Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright — neither of whom seemed to have much of a chance at all of earning a MLB job when camp opened. Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman are on the DL to begin the year; both also need to prove their successes in Atlanta last year can be sustained. Touki Toussaint, Kolby Allard and others are waiting for their chance to show they deserve permanent jobs; Mike Soroka and perhaps Luiz Gohara will join them in that pursuit if they can get to full health. There are yet more fascinating hurlers lurking from outside the 40-man roster. It’s quite an assemblage of talent, it’s just impossible to tell who’ll end up taking the bulk of the starts and how it’ll all work out.

It was a bit surprising that the Braves weren’t able to condense some of those young players into a high-end starter — a seemingly never-ending, never-fulfilled pursuit for the organization. But it’s also not clear what the possibilities were, and it’s understandable that they were not willing to sell short on their talent for an arm they didn’t believe in.

The lack of action was a bit tougher to understand in the bullpen, though. Injuries struck there as well, with A.J. Minter and Darren O’Day hitting the shelf. The rotation issues also drew away some options, though Max Fried still ended up being stashed in the pen rather than stretched out at Triple-A. There are some good young arms in the mix, and the Braves didn’t exactly need to replace anyone when you look at their full-health unit, but it still might have made sense to commit some cash to bring in a veteran. Luke Jackson and Josh Tomlin are in the pen to begin the year, which hardly seems optimal.

Things seem to be in sturdier shape on the position-player side. The infield, in particular, is a sensibly constructed unit that includes nice flexibility and upside. The big question there is whether Dansby Swanson will advance with the bat. And the team would obviously look better with J.T. Realmuto taking the majority of the time behind the dish, rather than a timeshare between McCann and Tyler Flowers. But there’s a huge ceiling with Donaldson and Freddie Freeman on the corners and Ozzie Albies installed at second.

There does seem to be a missed opportunity in the outfield, however. Solid as he has been, Markakis is hardly an inspiring choice. A run at Bryce Harper was never realistic, but the Braves were ultimately unwilling to go past their valuations on veterans Andrew McCutchen and Michael Brantley — not stars, at this stage, but younger and with better outlooks at the plate than Markakis. The most intriguing possibility all along was on the trade side, with Mitch Haniger representing a particularly appealing target. But he was never really made available — or, the Braves and others didn’t dangle enough to interest Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto. There was some chatter on a few other players, but nothing ever seemed to get very serious.

As it turns out, the Braves will open the year with a curious outfield mix at the MLB level. The veteran Joyce is now backing up Markakis, center fielder Ender Inciarte, and uber-talented youngster Ronald Acuna. Only Acuna hits from the right side; he’s also the least likely player to ride the pine on any given day. Charlie Culberson offers a righty bat with some corner outfield experience, but he’s a marginal hitter historically. The Braves are paying Adam Duvall $2,875,000 to try to figure things out at Triple-A. It still feels like there could be some further moves to sort this situation out. Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe may be facing a bit of a roster crunch early and could be a fit if the teams are willing to strike an early-season deal. Anthopoulos could still look at some waiver options or other low-risk bench moves to get a righty outfield bat on the team.

2019 Outlook

Since we’re mostly analyzing moves (there weren’t many) and then looking at questions (there are quite a few), the above analysis could come off as overly negative. The fact is, the Braves have loads of fascinating players and are just about as likely as any of their three primary division rivals to win the division or take a Wild Card spot. But there was a clear choice here to preserve both mid-2019 and future assets (of the payroll and prospect varieties) rather than to ramp up the roster for the immediate season. There are reasons for that decision, to be sure, but it also increases the risk and is subject to critique.

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Just a heads up and PSA guys. Today is April Fools Day. So before you see a post about who signed, traded, or released someone and lose your gourd.....just make sure its legit. 

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15 hours ago, Falconsfan567 said:

 

I know it's only three games, but so far the pen has looked like Sugar Ray Marimon, David Aardsma, and Matt Marksberry are back from 2015.

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1 hour ago, The Kingfish said:

I know it's only three games, but so far the pen has looked like Sugar Ray Marimon, David Aardsma, and Matt Marksberry are back from 2015.

Nice Reference. Who would you like to see go when Minter comes up, Jackson or Carle?

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