With the postseason a month away, the Atlanta Braves look to win their division despite losing their best player and other key players for the rest of the season. The Braves started out the year struggling and were stuck in 3rd place in the NL East for a number of weeks. One of the few bright spots Atlanta was Ronald Acuna Jr., who was having an MVP season. But on July 10, Acuna would suffer a season-ending injury, which seemingly eliminated any hopes for a playoff push.
As well as losing their best player, they had lost ace pitcher Mike Soroka, and two big bats in Marcell Ozunaand Travis d’Arnaud before Acuna’s injury. Of the three, only d’Arnaud would return this season. But little did we know some players would step up. Austin Riley has been putting up MVP numbers this year with a .306 batting average, 28 home runs and 83 RBIs. With struggles at the beginning of the year, former MVP Freddie Freeman is back and is in form, dominating the month of July with great stats. In the month of July he would have a batting average of .375 with 36 hits including 9 extra base hits and 15 runs batted in. Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies have also stepped up late to help this Braves team compete for another division championship.
The Braves pitching has had an up and down year so far. The starting pitching has looked solid for the most part. Leading the way is veteran pitcher Charlie Morton, who was signed in the offseason and leads the staff with 12 wins and 181 strikeouts. Max Fried is in second with 11 wins and 131 strikeouts. Both these guys have looked good and they hope to continue to lead the pitching staff. Although most of the starters have looked good this year, the bullpen has been a struggle for the Braves. They have blown a lot of games, especially earlier in the season. The Braves definitely need the bullpen to do well in the month of September in order to make the playoffs.
The month of August was great for the Braves, as they won 18 of 26 games thanks to some key additions before the trade deadline. After Acuna got hurt, they immediately traded for Joc Pederson to play right field. They also traded for former Brave Adam Duvall, who had been hitting well, as well as outfielders Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler. Both have contributed so far to help the team be successful in August. They would then trade for relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez who has had a great year to help with the bullpen struggles. After all these trades, the team has looked good and has given Braves fans hope for another division title.
The Braves can win the division as long as they keep competing and playing Braves baseball. The rest of September looks hopeful as the Braves play teams who are not having good years until our last two series which are against the two contenders in our division, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. Even though we don’t have some of our best players for the rest of the year I can see us being a World Series contender if we put all the pieces together.