There was a lot of meaningful baseball played on Saturday, and as one group of MLBbros heads for the offseason, another was pushed to the brink of advancing to the ALCS.
Atlanta Bros Eliminated
The Atlanta Braves World Series Title defense came to an abrupt end Saturday evening, as their 8-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies officially eliminated them from the playoffs. After providing the spark that helped Atlanta go 78-34 down the stretch, rookies Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom were unable to help the Braves overcome a Phillies team that has been on fire this postseason.
Harris was amazing during the regular season but couldn’t find a rhythm at the plate throughout this series. He finished the season batting .297 and missed a 20/20 season by one home run, but Michael hit just .071 in the series with one RBI.
Harris struggled at the plate, but what happened in the bottom of the third was even more uncharacteristic of him. Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto sent a shot into the left center field gap that Harris misplayed, allowing Realmuto to secure the ever so rare inside the park home run.
The Braves were outscored 24-13 in the series, and in their three losses the starting rotation gave up 15 hits and 14 runs in just 7.2 innings combined (14.09 ERA). Fellow rookie Vaughn Grissom didn’t see the field much this series, going 0-3 in the series but gaining some valuable experience.
Harris and Grissom may have struggled, but there is no reason to press the panic button in Atlanta. Both rookies gained valuable playoff experience and will be key to any future Braves playoff runs.
Cleveland One Game From ALCS
After a dominant playoff debut, Cleveland Guardians starter Triston McKenzie made two costly mistakes that gave the New York Yankees an early lead, but the Guardians were able to battle back and defeat the New York Yankees to take a 2-1 series lead.
McKenzie gave up four hits including a pair of two-run homers in his five innings of work on Saturday, striking out five along the way. Triston gave up his first two-run homer in the second inning to newly crowned American League home run king Aaron judge.
He managed to settle down for a few innings but found trouble again in the fifth, surrendering the second two-run shot to Yankees rookie Oswaldo Cabrera. The Guardians battled back in the ninth inning, and eventually pieced together five consecutive base hits to secure the victory.
Josh Naylor was 1-for-5 with three strikeouts but was still able to make a positive contribution on the offensive end, driving in a run on his first inning single. Naylor is 3-for-14 at home this postseason, a number the Guardians will need to see improve if they want to extend their season and force a Game 5.
Yesterday, Michael Harris II and the Atlanta Braves literally laid out the red carpet as they began defense of their 2021 World Series Championship. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Phillies were the team that played with a championship swagger throughout Game One, pulling out a 7-6 victory to take a 1-0 series in the American League Division Series.
Tuesday marked the 12th consecutive road game for the Phillies, but unfortunately Money Mike and the young Braves were unable to take advantage. The Braves gave up runs early and often, a recipe for disaster against Philly. The Phillies were 56-21 in the regular season when they scored first, and the streak continued into the postseason.
Coming into yesterday’s game, Harris, the frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year, was slashing .185/.241/.259 over his last seven games. His struggles followed him into the postseason, as Harris went 0-for-4 in his playoff debut.
What was most surprising about the performance was Harris leaving three men on base in the process of going 0-for-4. This season, Michael has hit .383 with runners in scoring position, which was third best in the Bigs. Fellow Rookie Vaughn Grissom was called on to pinch hit in his playoff debut, but unfortunately the result was a strikeout.
Both bros will have plenty of more opportunities to make some playoff history and contribute to a possible ATL repeat.
The Los Angeles Dodgers continue to be the best team in baseball and look like a lock for the number one seed. Dave Roberts’ squad has been dominant offensively, and as of Wednesday morning their +294 run differential was easily the best in the league.
The Dodgers have done damage in every way imaginable, but their ability to rack up extra base hits has been the deadliest part of this offense. They currently rank 4th in home runs, 2nd doubles and 3rd in triples, numbers good enough to lead the league in slugging as a squad. Mookie Betts has been a huge part of the power surge in LA, slugging .772 with six home runs and 12 RBI over his last 15 games.
The NL West may be in the bag for the Dodgers, but there is a battle brewing atop the NL East. The New York Mets have once again been walked down by the Atlanta Braves and their young batch of MLBbros.
Atlanta has been able to score runs in bunches all season, and that is primarily due to their ability to collect timely hits. The Braves are hitting .283 with runners in scoring position this season with 30 home runs, 3rd most in the league.
Rookie Michael Harris II has continued to show the league why he’s considered a centerpiece of this core. Harris collected Rookie of the Month honors in August after slashing .337/.400/.589 with four homers and continuing to play one of the best centerfields in baseball. HIs fellow rook Vaughn Grissom may be challenging for the award this month, as he is currently slashing .375/.444/.583 over his last 7 games.
The Braves surge has one again put the pressure on Taijuan Walker and the Mets, and with ace Max Scherzer landing on the IL again the battle just got tougher. New York has lost three straight headed into action Wednesday and are just 5-5 over their last 10.
Walker’s secondary pitches have continued to dazzle, but his last 7 starts have been shaky (2-2 with a 6.60 ERA over 30.0 innings pitched). The Mets bats haven’t gone cold at the worst possible time, and after taking two of three from LA have proceeded to get outscored by the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Mets need to hold on to the division, because the loser of the NL East will be not only forced into the 4 seed, should they survive the Wild Card round they would be staring down the Dodgers.
The St. Louis Cardinals currently have a solid lead on Devin Williams and the Milwaukee Brewers, so barring a collapse by the Cards it may in their best interest to focus on catching Josh Bell and the San Diego Padres.
With all of the attention going to the dominating big market teams like the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, it is easy for feel-good stories to fall through the cracks. Then throw in the superstars on those teams like Aaron Judge (Yankees) and Mookie Betts (Dodgers), and the younger players fall even further back from the media news cycle.
Some players have battled their way into the spotlight briefly like Trayce Thompson, who went from a cash considerations injury stop gap for the Dodgers to a justifiable key player on the roster late in the season.
But MLBbro.com has a two-for-one sale for all of the fans of black players who are major contributors to Major League Baseball. It seems the Atlanta Braves still have an eye for young talent that can contribute immediately to the main roster.
Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom have made the jump NOT from Triple-A but DOUBLE-A to take MLB by storm as being two of the three youngest players in baseball. At the age of 21, they sandwich Tampa Bay Rays’ prospect Wander Franco. But unlike Franco, these two MLBbros are on a team that is not only in a playoff chase where it matters, but in a battle for the NL East crown, one game behind the New York Mets.
The Braves are well known to promote young talent over the years as seen right here being discussed by these MLB Network analysts…
But what Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom have done since being called up can’t be overlooked. Sure players have been brought up from Double-A before over the years, but what these two MLBbros are doing right now is ridiculous. Need some proof?
How about September 2, 2022, when the Atlanta Braves took on the Miami Marlins? Harris II and Grissom both deposited two-run homers into the seats as the Braves put on a five-home run barrage in an 8-1 beat-down.
Vaughn Grissom shared the secret to the early success of the MLBbros…just keep it simple and look at the game the same way as they did in the minors via The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“They got to throw it over the heart of the plate and you either got to hit it or miss it,” Grissom said. “Just control what you can control. Everybody’s a major leaguer and they all got their stuff, but we’re both here, too. We have what it takes to be here, too.”
MLBbro.com has been covering Michael Harris II’s progress throughout the season, comparing him to all-time great young Braves players in the dynasty years starting in the 1990s.
But while Harris II has been on the roster for a good while, Grissom has been the newcomer as of late being brought up due to the injuries of Ozzie Albies and Orlando Arcia. It didn’t take long to show that the 14 home runs and 67 RBI would transcend over to the big leagues. But as you see Vaughn’s home run here, just look at who was the first player there to congratulate him. Press play!
But with these two players, it’s not just about pounding home runs. They have an attacking mentality on the bases that have complimented the base running styles of Braves leaders, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies. Last week against the Mets in a huge game for the division title the duo combined on a scoring scenario that impressed Braves manager, Brian Snitker on the base path intelligence of these two MLBbros via The Atlanta Voice last month…
“I think it’s amazing what you know, like the young guys when they come up,” Snitker said. “It’s playing like that with the energy and the hustle and never taking anything for granted. It does rub off on guys, I mean it’s infectious when they do that. And then Michael comes out of the box looking for two and the way he can run and fortunately make a play. It’s really good. It’s really good. I mean, the guys do feed off that.”
This article could go into statistics and advanced stats, but the impact of these MLBBro baby bombers is deeper than that to the Braves and the culture. It’s about two MLBbros who know they belong and have the confidence to succeed at this level. Two Black ballers who can inspire the next generation of Black players.