The Atlanta Braves were supposed to be good this season… and they are. Currently neck and neck with the Phillies for the number one spot in the NL East, this team is finding its groove, as evidenced by their recent eight-game win streak and this weekend’s games. They’ve won 12 of their last 15 games with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Don’t you think it’s time you checked out a game at Braves Stadium?
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The Phillies might’ve swept the Braves earlier this season, but Atlanta is back, baby. With a record of 42-30, they’re now three games ahead of Philadelphia. And just after we wrote about the Phillies topping the NL East last week too…
The Braves recently swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins in back to back series. And this weekend they managed to handle the Phillies in dramatic fashion. So how are they doing it? What’s their new formula for success?
Their batting has been great!
Well, it’s not really new. This is what won them the NL East last year and their batting lineup might be even better this year. The Atlanta Braves racked up 69 runs in 10 games before Friday. After facing the Phillies this weekend, they’ve picked up a whopping 29 more. The Braves currently rank fourth in runs, third in batting average and On Base Percentage, and sixth in slugging in the National League.
Their batting lineup leads off with Ronald Acuna, Dansby Swanson, and Freddie Freeman, a tough three guys for opposing teams to get through unscathed. Switch-hitting Ozzie Albies is also a killer too, he hit 24 homers last season and looks to do the same this year. In fact, it’s possible that he, Freeman, and Acuna could each have 30-plus homeruns this season. No weaknesses here…
Meanwhile, Josh Donaldson, who signed with the Braves last November, has been a bit of a disappointment up until this weekend when he had three solid games, including two three-hit nights. We’re hoping this means that the former Blue Jays and Indians player has bounced back and will continue to produce as the season continues.
And their pitching has been, well, good enough
This is where the Braves could use some work. Their starting pitchers are decent, but the relievers need some work (as evidenced by Luke Jackson’s inability to seal the deal during Saturday’s game – that’s his sixth time blowing it this season). The Braves do have other relief options though, like Anthony Swarzak and AJ Minter. Pitchers Max Fried, Daniel Winkler, and Sean Newcomb all pitched this weekend against the Phillies, but it’s still Mike Foltynewicz who leads this rotation. But even Foltynewicz struggled prior to Sunday. Opposing batters already have 15 homers on him this season, two fewer than he gave up in all of 2018.
The only pitchers that the Braves have been able to rely on this season are veteran Julio Teheran (3.03 ERA) and rookie Mike Soroka (1.38 ERA), who is 7-1.
Word on the street is that Atlanta will be looking for additional help in the bullpen before the July 31st trade deadline, so keep an eye out for that. Left-hander Daniel Keuchel just signed a one-year deal with the Braves for $13 million, so that’s a good start.
Lucky for the Braves, their batting has been enough to carry their mediocre pitching to victory this season. So far, anyway.
About those Phillies this weekend…
Everybody is all about the Braves right now, but don’t get too overzealous just yet. The Braves took on the Phillies again this weekend, their division rivals showing up in Atlanta on Friday for another uber competitive three-game series. You can bet the Braves were looking to make up for their mistakes back in March.
Atlanta was able to pull off a close win on Friday, defeating the Phillies 9-8. But on Saturday, the home team was unable to hang on, allowing the Phillies to come from behind in the ninth inning to score two runs and win the game 6-5. So the Braves’ win streak ended at eight, but on Sunday, they sent the Phillies packing with a decisive 15-1 blowout victory! Talk about making a statement. The thing is, we don’t know if it was Atlanta’s brilliance or the Phillies’ utter display of incompetence that really won them the game here. We’ll just have to keep watching the Braves to see how things play out in the long run!
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