Dansby Swanson and Adonis Garcia had the second- and fourth-lowest OPS in the National League entering Wednesday, but don’t expect Braves manager Brian Snitker to move Swanson from the second spot in the order or bench Garcia anytime soon. Snitker indicated Wednesday he’ll be patient.
“The experience I’ve had with (Garcia), I just want to keep running the guy out there and hopefully he starts doing what we think he can do,” Snitker said. “Dansby, it’s his second full year (of pro ball). Facing some really good pitching. He’s going to handle everything and get better and better. At some point in time we might have to adjust, but right now I think he’s in a good spot.
“He got a game-winner (walk-off hit) two days ago, and he faces one of the best in baseball yesterday (Washington ace Max Scherzer on Tuesday) and had a couple of really good at-bats.”
After struggling on offense in the season-opening series at New York, the Braves had an impressive .280 team batting average and 4.6 runs per game in their past 10 games before Wednesday, including four or more runs in nine consecutive games before a 3-1 loss to the Nationals and Scherzer on Tuesday. And they played nine of those games without Matt Kemp, who was their hottest hitter before straining a hamstring in the fourth game of the season.
Kemp has been on the 10-day disabled list and was scheduled to play a rehab game at Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday before rejoining the Braves for Thursday’s series finale against the Nationals.
“Ender (Inciarte) is coming, Freddie (Freeman) is doing what Freddie can do, and Nick (Markakis) is as steady as the day is long,” Snitker said. “We spread things out again tomorrow, hopefully, when we get Matt back.”
Swanson went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Wednesday’s 14-4 loss to the Nationals, dropping his average to .131 with a .159 OBP and .197 slugging percentage, and Garcia was 1-for-4 with a single to leave him with a .170 average, .214 OBP and .245 slugging percentage. Each had one double, one homer and three RBIs and each had started all 14 games, with Swanson batting second in every game and Garcia hitting seventh before Kemp got hurt and sixth after.
Swanson’s .355 OPS is the second-lowest in the National League and Garcia’s .460 is fifth-lowest.
In the past eight games, Swanson is 3-for-33 (.091) with no extra-base hits, one walk and nine strikeouts in that span.
Swanson had a .136 batting average on balls in play in his last seven games before Wednesday, and his line-drive rate had remained one of the highest on the team. Also, the Braves won five of those seven games, no small factor in Snitker’s decision not to shake up the lineup and move Swanson down.
“We’re not there yet,” Snitker said before Wednesday’s game. “I’m kind of a glass half-full guy. I’m thinking I’m seeing some really good things out of the kid, some good contact, things like that. So I’m thinking that’s going to translate the other way. He’s in a good spot up there amongst all those guys. I mean, he’s going to get good pitches to hit, especially with Free doing what he’s doing, then you put Matt back in the middle of those guys, and again we lengthen our lineup. I like that.”
For the season, Swanson’s .159 batting average on balls is play is fifth-lowest among NL qualifiers, two spots ahead of Garcia’s .178.
Freeman has been the other end of the spectrum, about as hot as a hitter can be. He’s hitting a majors-leading .440 with a 1.453 OPS (second in the majors) and reached base in a Atlanta Braves franchise-record consecutive plate appearances before grounding out in the sixth inning Wednesday.