Braves fans, it has been a rough start to the season. Like many of you, I had high hopes for this season, but something needs to change for the Braves. The NL East is still up for grabs this early in the season, but the Atlanta Braves need to get it together if they want to make a run at the division title.
The Braves pitching this year has been average as usual. Huascar Ynoa has been a pleasant surprise as he has taken control of the 5th spot in the rotation. Charlie Morton has pitched pretty good for the most part, and his veteran presence is making a good impact on our young pitching staff. Drew Smyly was a player I criticized a lot during the preseason and from the looks of it I will continue to do so. Like I said in my preseason article, I would have loved to see the Braves go get a solid fifth arm to add to the rotation rather than keep Smyly. Ian Anderson is still pitching well and will only get better the more starts he gets under his belt. Oh, and let’s not forget Mike Soroka and Max Fried return from injury soon. You better believe I am counting down the days.
We all know Ronald Acuna Jr. is a stud, but he cannot do it all. The Braves have 5 of their 8 every day starters batting in the .100s, and I do not think shuffling guys around in the lineup is going to fix it. Ozzie Albies has got to live up to the hype. We have seen so many promotions saying Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies are the two studs on the Braves. It’s time from Ozzie to step up on offense and be the stud we all know he can be. Dansby Swanson has made massive improvements as a hitter compared to early in his career. Although he strikes out a lot, it is only a matter of time before he gets it going consistently.
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of talk about Austin Riley and Christian Pache‘s struggles at the plate. We have to remember these guys are still young and a work in progress. The more major league at-bats a player gets, the more information opposing teams get on what players like and do not while hitting. Our young guys are still working on hitting against MLB pitchers and scouting reports. I get tired of being patient like many of you, but I love seeing the flashes of talent these guys display on a nightly basis.
The Braves offense has a lot of fire power in it, but for some reason our fire has been out as of late. Our middle of the order guys like Freeman, Ozuna, and d’Arnaud need to start having more productive at-bats. Marcell Ozuna has to do a better job of putting the bat on the ball late in counts. He is a strike out machine, and I would love to see him make an adjustment at the plate with two strikes. I am not as concerned with Freddie Freeman and Travis d’Arnaud as they will come around and do their job of driving in runs. As for Ozuna, paying so much money for a guy that is a defensive liability and a home run or bust hitter does not make much sense to me.
As far as the defense goes, I think we are in great shape. The Braves take a lot of pride in their defense. All but three of our everyday starters have a 1.000 fielding percentage. Defensively speaking, I think our opening day lineup was the best we are going to get. Yes, we are sacrificing a little by having Ozuna in left, but that is where the universal DH comes into play.
I, like many other players and fans, think the MLB should bring back the universal DH. It makes the game just a little more offense oriented and more exciting to watch. Pitchers also want to get their rest in between innings. Pitchers cannot do this when they are standing in the box every three innings. It also seems a little unfair that AL pitchers do not have to hit. As a Braves fan, I’d love to see Ehire Adrianza or Guillermo Heredia in left field and Ozuna at DH.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Baseball is a game of momentum. Once one guy gets a hit, the hits start coming in bunches. Once one guy makes a good play, everyone else wants to make a play. I think a big part of momentum in baseball is the pitching. If your pitcher is giving up runs and hits like crazy, it does not do much for the team’s momentum. I think once we get Fried and Soroka back, we will start playing better baseball. The offense will come around, but it does suck to watch the team go through this slump. This Braves team is far too talented to not make a run at the NL East title this year. Be patient Braves fans, and Chop On!