With an argument between the Nationals' Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg on Friday, a postponement Saturday that came five hours before first pitch, and Sunday's hours upon hours of rain delays, the Braves' first series after the All-Star break was ... well, eventful to say the least .
It also provided a new wrinkle into the optimum lineup debate and, meanwhile, trade rumors continued to build as Atlanta seeks a bullpen upgrade.
All that and more as we dive into this week's Three Cuts.
1. Ronald Acuña Jr. at leadoff is real ... and it's spectacular
In his first game hitting leadoff at the major league level, Ronald Acuña Jr. did something just one other player in Braves history -- and nobody on the current roster -- has ever done.
The 20-year-old had three hits, a home run and a double among them, to go with a pair of stolen bases in the series-opening win over the Nationals. The only other Braves player to do that was Roberto Kelly on May 31, 1994 against the Giants.
Dig a little deeper and that kind of a performance has been pulled off by just 24 other players in the last 50 years, with Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines among them.
It was impressive stuff with Acuña -- who has 163 at-bats at leadoff in the minors the past two seasons -- the table-setter with Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman behind him.
Granted, the struggles of Ender Inciarte -- who broke out with a three-hit day Sunday, including a double -- paved the way for manager Brian Snitker to seek out other options atop the lineup. While Albies is a natural fit with his skill set, he's also statistically better at No. 2, with a 140 wRC+ compared 97 at leadoff.
That opened the door for Acuña, and while Albies' hamstring -- which caused him to leave Friday's game early and kept him out Sunday -- kept the combination from putting on another show atop the lineup.
Nonetheless, the results were there again, as Acuña went 3 for 5 with Charlie Culberson hitting behind him. If not for a misstep on the base paths between first and second that gave Bryce Harper's deep throw from center the opportunity to nab him at second, Acuña -- the eighth-fastest player in the majors with a 29.8 sprint speed per Statcast -- would have had two doubles on the day.
Snitker has been clear that he believes the Braves are their best with Inciarte hitting atop the lineup, and should Sunday be the start of one of his traditional second-half surges, the former All-Star could easily return to that spot.
But over the weekend, Acuña showed what's possible with him at the top ... and it was a kind of electricity that the lineup has been begging to have wiht consistency.
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2. This week looms large for Sean Newcomb
Saturday's postponement pushed back Sean Newcomb's first start of the season, and that may not have been a bad thing.
He'll now take the ball Monday in Miami against a team he's absolutely dominated, sporting a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings across back-to-back starts on May 13 and 19 against the Marlins.
It's an opportunity for Newcomb to regain his mojo, and cast aside any fears that he's feeling the strain of the workload.
Those aforementioned gems against the Marlins were, of course, part of Newcomb's 11-start run from April 8-June 5 in which the left-hander gave up a mere 14 runs over 64 1/3 innings (1.96 ERA). But the sevens starts since have been something all together different, with a 5.45 ERA in seven outings (the fourth-highest in MLB in that span), including consecutive outings vs. the Yankees and Brewers in which he yielded a combined 10 runs in 6 1/3 innings.
The Marlins and their collective minus-77.5 offensive WAR (next to last in NL) could be exactly what Newcomb needs to get the second half started off on the right foot, especially when you consider he's slated to take the ball on Saturday night against the Dodgers.
Newcomb gave up five runs on seven hits -- including a season-high two home runs -- vs. Los Angeles on June 10. That game was the start of his slide, and Newcomb's allowed nine HRs since after yielding three in his first 12 starts, and his .344 weighted on-base average against is the second-worst in the NL since June 10 and sixth-worst in the majors overall.
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3. Braves reportedly have interest in Orioles trio ...but does it make sense?
The rumor mill continues to do its work, with the Braves are among the teams interested in Orioles closer Zach Britton, one of the biggest and subsequently more costly arms available before the trade deadline.
While upgrading the bullpen -- which is only better than the Indians among teams currently in contention with a 4.26 ERA -- is key and may be the Braves' ultimate move, the cost of Britton is certainly more than than Atlanta would want to pay for a rental.
It's the right need, but the interest in Britton feels only surface deep.
Meanwhile, MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko reports the Braves have checked with Baltimore about second baseman Jonathan Schoop and right-handed starters Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
Wait ... what?
It may be nothing more than looking into perceived available assets, but would this deal even make sense for the Atlanta?
Bundy and Gausman aren't the front-of-the-rotation piece or pieces the Braves need and there's already a glutton of pitching in the system. Then there's the former All-Star Schoop, who has a 0.0 WAR, and the Braves already have Ozzie Albies at second and Schoop and his minus-11.5 offensive WAR wouldn't be an upgrade over Dansby Swanson.
So where't the interest?
Bundy (25), who was taken fourth in the 2011 draft, is preparing for his first run through arbitration this winter, while the 27-year-old Gausman (taken fourth in 2012) has two more years of arbitration control. Schoop, meanwhile, has one more year left.
It's a group of controllable assets, and maybe the worst team in the majors goes into full rebuild mode and moves pieces it doesn't have to move.
Granted, Bundy and Gausman could reach their potential with the Braves, but with Luiz Gohara's potential and Mike Soroka back in September are they huge upgrades for the rotation? As for Schoop ... well, that's hard to pinpoint unless he's going to supplant Swanson or become a bench piece. Plus, the Braves seem to have a much more pressing need in adding a proven veteran presence to the bullpen.
Britton may not be it at the expected cost, and the expectation here is Atlanta is likely to add relief help by Aug. 1. But give the Brave this: after three straight years of 90 losses, a team in position to buy is in the mix.