With tensions already running high between the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays in their four-game series, the Braves got the worst possible news on Thursday about star first baseman Freddie Freeman.
In the long term, that means the Braves will be without their best player for much longer than they’d like. Freeman’s WAR this season is third in baseball, according to Fangraphs, just behind Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. His 14 homers led the National League and his .341/.461/.748 slash line is quite impressive.
In the short term, this could mean the fourth and final game between the Braves and Jays on Thursday night in Atlanta could get ugly. Benches cleared twice on Wednesday night, once when Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar yelled a gay slur at Braves pitcher Jason Motte and again when Jose Bautista hit a homer in the next inning and admired it too much for the Braves’ liking.
The Braves have been hit seven times in the first three games of the series. Combine that with Bautista’s bat flip and Freeman’s injury and you’ve got a combustible situation that could play out on Thursday night.
Veteran baseball scribe Peter Gammons reported before Freeman’s prognosis was announced that the Braves are ready to fight over the injury — and that’s not likely to change now that we know the severity.
One Brave veteran told a friend "we'll have a fight today" after Loup broke Freddie Freeman's hand
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) May 18, 2017
This certainly seems to fit within baseball’s unwritten rules, where revenge is often doled out by pitchers on the mound. Speaking of: The Jays send Marcus Stroman to the hill to face Julio Teheran of the Braves, both of whom have a fastball that can hurt someone.
To help in Freeman’s absence, the Braves have looked outside the organization for help. And quickly. According to Buster Olney and Jon Heyman, the Braves have a deal to bring in free-agent first baseman James Loney to fill the gap.
Loney is the perfect choice. Was solid with mets last year. A plus defensively, too. #braves
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 18, 2017
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