Spring Training games are officially underway! It has already been an eventful Spring Training with the pitch clock, but it’s something- like it or not- that the players, coaches, and fans are going to have to get used to.
With about a month until Opening Day, it’s time to start thinking about what the Opening Day lineup lineup will look like and who the starting pitcher is going to be.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF)
Michael Harris II (CF)
Matt Olson (1B)
Austin Riley (3B)
Ozzie Albies (2B)
Travis d’Arnaud (C)
Eddie Rosario (LF)
Vaughn Grissom (SS)
Marcell Ozuna (DH)
There are a few things to note about the lineup: 1) d’Arnaud and Albies could easily swap places in the lineup. It will ultimately depend on if they’re facing a left-handed or right-handed pitcher. 2) Sean Murphy could possibly be the Opening Day catcher, however I don’t think that will be very likely. 3) Most lineups across the MLB are going to have their DH in the middle of their lineup. However, with Marcell Ozuna being our DH, I have put him last. He has not proven himself at the plate over the past couple seasons and just doesn’t seem to have it together anymore. It will be interesting to see what the Braves do with him over the course of the 2023 season.
Regardless of how it’s set up, the Atlanta Braves lineup is going to be very solid, and if everyone performs to the best of his abilities, it is going to be tough to get them out!
Starting Pitcher Prediction:
Fried seems like the most logical choice to be the Opening Day pitcher. He was given the job of being Opening Day pitcher last year, and I think Snitker will give it to him again this year. He is the Braves ace and has been given the nickname “Mr. Consistent,” so I believe they will go with him.
It has been very enjoyable to have baseball back, even if it is only Spring Training. I am looking forward to Opening Day, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the Atlanta Braves in 2023!
With pitcher and catchers set to report in less than a month, it’s time to start looking ahead to the Atlanta Braves’ 2023 season. Obviously, we are all excited for our beloved baseball to return, but there are going to be some major changes coming – not only on the Braves team, but also for the MLB rules.
The Atlanta Braves team:
Along with Dansby Swanson, Luke Jackson and William Contreras will no longer be Braves in 2023. Swanson signed a 7-year, $177 deal with the Cubs, Contreras was part of the Braves 3-way trade with the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics, in which the Braves got catcher Sean Murphy. And most recently, Luke Jackson signed a 2-year, $11.5 million deal with the San Fransisco Giants.
It was sad to see these three loved players go, but we can’t dwell on the past…and the Braves are still the same good team we know them to be.
Why is MLB changing/creating new rules?
I recently had someone challenge me on this topic. A lot of people say that the only reason that MLB is changing the rules of the game (i.e. adding the pitch clock) is to speed up the game. That is simply NOT true! Time is a contributing factor, but it is NOT the “ONLY” reason they are adding the pitch clock as some people would like to argue. Part of the reason they are implementing the pitch clock is that it speeds up game play which will help enhance production on the field. That means there won’t be as much “dead time” for players while they’re on the field. On average, a MLB pitcher took anywhere between 15-45 seconds to throw one pitch. 45 seconds is a long time to take to throw a pitch! Not to mention, it seems the longer a pitcher takes to throw a pitch, the more comfortable the batter is facing that pitcher. From the time a batter gets into the batters box to the end of his at-bat (whether he got out or reached base) it’s about intimidation factor. If you go up to the batters box and seem uncomfortable…the pitcher is going to trample all over you. But, if a batter is hard-core staring at the pitcher while he is going through his excessive windup, then it’s going to have an impact on the pitcher and make him redo his windup, causing the at-bat to last longer.
With the pitch clock, MLB pitchers will now get 15 seconds to throw a pitch with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners on base. If they don’t throw a pitch within that amount of time, it is charged as an automatic ball. This rule is going to be harder for some pitchers than others. For example: last year, it took Braves reliever Jesse Chavez roughly 13.5 seconds to throw a pitch. Whereas it took former Braves closer Kenley Jansen roughly 20 seconds to throw a pitch with NO runners on base, and roughly 25.5 seconds to throw a pitch with runners on. I do not mean this rudely, but as a Braves fan, I’m glad we don’t have Jansen as our closer for the first year with the pitch clock.
There were two other rule changes that will be implemented this year. There will be larger bases, and no more shift.
When I first heard they were enlarging the bases from 15inches to 18 inches I was intrigued. Those three extra inches added onto the bases are to help prevent collisions. It will give the position player and the player running the bases more space to operate. This will especially come in handy with stolen bases – bringing the stolen base rate up that is. But stolen base rate, in the end, is not why they are enlarging the bases. They are doing it to try and prevent collisions and life-threatening injuries to the players. All of Braves Country wish these larger bases would have been on the in-field last year for Ozzie!
The new rule about the shift is that when a pitch is thrown, four infielders must be on the dirt, two on each side of second base. Once the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, they are allowed to move, but they are not allowed to shift and “prepare” for what the hitter might do before hand.
Adding this rule to the game of baseball is to get more players to reach base. Honestly, some players should be embarrassed that MLB is adding this rule. It almost seems like a pity rule because they can’t pull their hands in and shorten their swing to hit the ball the other way.
However, in some ways I suppose it is good that MLB is adding this rule, because it keeps the infielders in the position they are supposed to be in. When Austin Riley ran across the diamond from third base to play behind first base in shallow right field after every other pitch, that was excessive. And what blew my mind was that when the third base line was WIDE open, players still hit the ball RIGHT at where Riley was positioned. Yes, I know. As a Braves fan I was happy it worked out in our favor – but come on!!!! You’re supposed to be a professional, yet you can’t hit the ball in a wide open gap.
So yes, I think it is a good thing that they are ending the shift, but I also think it embarrassing for players that they are having to take it away. That is my view on the end of the shift.
Braves Potential in 2023:
The Atlanta Braves are a good team. Just because they lost two of their long time players does not automatically put them at a disadvantage. I believe the Braves are going to have a great 2023 season and are easily title contenders.
Here are a couple reasons why I believe this:
The Braves will have a healthy team coming into this season:
It was clear to see that Ronald Acuña Jr. was no where near 100% in 2022. He was not as comfortable in the outfield and was not the Acuña we were used to seeing at the plate or on the basepads. He was caught stealing 11 out of 40 times. While that doesn’t seem like a bunch, it’s a LOT compared to 2019 when he stole 37 bases and was only caught 9 times. Acuña has been training a lot this off-season. I think, if anything, this season taught him that he wasn’t the invincible “king” he thought he was and that it really is a team effort for all of the wins that the Braves team got. It will be good to *hopefully* see him play with a team attitude and not a me attitude this year.
It will also be absolutely wonderful to have a healthy Ozzie Albies back. Ozzie broke his foot on June 13th of 2022 and was out until September 16th. And then, on September 18th, just two days later – Ozzie broke his finger sliding into second base. It was so painful to see him go down again with another freak accident after he had just worked SO hard to come back. And you could tell that having him back sparked something in the Braves. He brings enormous energy to the club and brings out the best in Ronald Acuña Jr. Just imagine how many wins the Braves could have had in 2022 (keep in mind they had 101) if they had Acuña to his full potential and Ozzie 100% healthy.
Another player the Braves will have healthy in 2023 is RHP Mike Soroka. Soroka hasn’t played in a major league game since he tore his ACL on August 3rd, 2020. It’s been almost three years!!! That’s insane. He could have pitched in the mid 2021 season, but he tore his ACL AGAIN by walking into the Braves clubhouse for some extra rehab. Soroka was a great pitcher in the short amount of time we got to see him pitch before he became injury plagued. I am looking forward to seeing what he can/will bring to the Braves starting rotation.
Braves Young Rookie Duo:
Michael Harris the II and Spencer Strider were a big part of the success that the Atlanta Braves had in 2022. They were both extremely impressive – so impressive that they both got long-term deals with the Braves before the 2022 season was over. Now that says a LOT about their potential!
As soon as he came up, Michael Harris II was a phenomenon. His defense was easily Gold Glove worthy. I still don’t know how he made some of those plays that he did! He also brought more offensive power into the lineup. He hit his homers, got his hits, and took his walks. He found ways to get on base.
Spencer Strider started his 2022 season in the bullpen, then around late April- mid May, the Braves coaching staff made the great decision to put him into the starting rotation and there was no looking back. He had 202 strikeouts in 131.2 innings pitched. That’s incredible! Not to mention he has such a high velocity on his pitches and can control them at the same time. A lot of pitchers either throw fast and have no control of their pitches or the strike zone, or have low velocity and control of their pitches. But Strider is capable of doing both.
Harris won the Rookie of the Year award for 2022 and Spencer Strider was the runner up for the award. They have both proven that they are great players and they are going to have an impact on the Braves for years to come.
There are, of course, other reasons why the Braves have the potential to have a great season in 2023. They have a solid lineup, solid defense, a solid rotation, and a solid relief core. It’s just a matter of getting all of those things to work together at the same time. Many times last year it seemed that we struggled with having great pitching and no offense, or great offense and terrible pitching. Yet, when they got over those slumps, they were almost unbeatable.
I am beyond excited for the 2023 season! I cannot wait to see the Braves play- and play to their full potential.
To quote Brian Snitker, “It’s never over til it’s over.” And now, it’s over.
Honestly, it heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the feelings that the Atlanta Braves players and coaching staff are going through. They gave this 162-game season their all, and you could see that in every game. But, when Postseason baseball comes around, things change. It doesn’t matter how many wins you have, or how good you’ve been all year…what matters is how well you can play in a best-of-five series against a red-hot team. This year, the Braves had to face the Philadelphia Phillies, and quite frankly, they outplayed Atlanta.
The Atlanta Braves are a really good team, there is no doubt about that, and they were very capable of winning. However, the Phillies came into this series against the Braves with a major spark and it carried them through. They were able to get hits when they needed to and had good strong pitching throughout the entire series.
The Braves never really had that spark. You could easily see that they wanted to win, and they had multiple chances to score and make that happen, they just couldn’t get the big hit. One of the moments that I think had a big impact on this series was in Game One when they left the bases loaded three times without scoring. You just cant let that happen – especially in a Postseason game.
Another issue was starting pitching. The starting rotation was never really 100% for the Braves in the NLDS. From Max Fried giving up 8 hits and 6 runs (only 4 of them were earned) in 3.1 innings, things didn’t look good. Add on Spencer Strider not being completely healthy and yet he pitched anyway and got into trouble, and then finally for poor Charlie Morton. Morton was pitching very well for the Braves in game four, but then he got a comebacker back to the mound that drilled him on his pitching elbow. He finished the inning and came back out for the inning after, but they had to pull him because things just weren’t looking right. This was hard to watch, not only because he was doing so well and has come up clutch in the Postseason, but because it brought back flashbacks from what happened down in Houston in game one of the World Series when a comebacker hit his lower leg and broke his fibula.
All in all, this Atlanta Braves team never truly seemed 100% healthy coming into the Postseason. With Ozzie Albies not being able to play, Ronald Acuña Jr. having some remaining knee problems, to Tyler Matzek having Tommy John Surgery the day of the NLDS, and other key components — it just wasn’t there for Atlanta.
Even though the Braves got eliminated much too soon, I have full confidence in this Atlanta’s Braves team. Next year they will come back and fight just like they did this year and years past. However, there are two looming questions facing the Braves… Will Dansby Swanson and Max Fried return? Obviously no one wants to see these two go. Fried has proven to be a stud in the starting rotation, and Swanson is a native Georgia-boy who has captivated the hearts of Braves country. No one wants to see either of these two go. Regarding Dansby, however, fans are a little more worried.
After Freddie Freeman signed with the Dodgers, it was made known that Freeman and Swanson had the same agent. Freeman fired his agent earlier this year but Swanson still has him. This automatically brings more concern regarding Dansby remaining a Brave, but I believe if he really truly wants to stay a Brave like he says, then he will accept the offer that the Atlanta Braves office gives him.
Only time will tell what’s going to happen, but right now the Braves are taking this one day at a time. Coming into the offseason they are going to rest, spend time with families, and then start preparing for the 2023 season to come. Only 4 months until Spring Training!
Coming off a long road trip to the West Coast, you could tell that the Atlanta Braves were ready to be back home in front of their home crowd. Counting last night’s win against the Nationals, Atlanta has won nine home games in a row.
The Braves played some of their best baseball in this past series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Part of that was due to the LONG awaited return of second baseman and fan-favorite, Ozzie Albies. He had been out for three months with a fractured foot, and he returned to the lineup on Friday, September 16th. He was received very happily by his teammates and the fans at Truist Park gave him a standing ovation. And when he had his two out, two-run double the fans went crazy. It was great to have Ozzie back. He truly makes the team complete. He provides the energy they need to win ballgames.
However, ill fate was awaiting Ozzie. On Saturday, September 17, in just his second game back, Ozzie Albies was advancing to second base on a fly-out by Eddie Rosario. He slid into second base hands first, and after he slid he stayed hunched over the base. Then and there, all of Braves Country felt a pit form in their stomach, and after watching the replay, things didn’t look good. Ozzie stayed in that inning and ran the bases, but once he got into the dugout he immediately went into the clubhouse to get his hand checked out. Ozzie Albies will miss the rest of the regular season with a fractured right pinky finger. This news is devastating. After all that hard work he did recovering from a fractured foot, he fractured his finger less than two days after returning to send him back to the IL. I’m not entirely sure how his finger got fractured. To me, it looked like Phillies second baseman, Jean Segura might have stepped on Ozzie’s finger by accident, or Ozzie slid into his foot. Either way, it’s a heartbreaking situation. But hopefully, Ozzie will remain in the dugout and cheer on his teammates from there, although he would much rather be on the field playing the game he loves.
Atlanta’s offense has hit a spark since they came home. 1-9 each batter was coming through in one situation or another. Even Matt Olson broke out of his hitless streak and recorded two hits last night. And Ronald Acuña Jr. looked like his old self against the Phillies. He hit a home run in back to back games and played superb defense.
Pitching for the Braves has looked much better, too. The starting rotation did well, making the pitches they need to and kept the Phillies scoreless most of the time. Even relief pitching was lights-out. Collin McHugh pitched well – even pitching two innings in the same game. And Kenley Jansen, who we have seen struggle of late, has come in as closer and been lights-out. He hasn’t gotten into any trouble and hasn’t walked anyone. Hopefully he’s figured out what his problem was and made the necessary changes.
The Atlanta braves are a very fun team to watch. They are currently 1.0 game out of first place in the National League East, and are playing fantastic baseball. If they can keep this up, they have a real shot at beating the Mets in the Eastern division. And when the Mets come to town next week, Truist park is going to be rocking. It is going to be some serious competition and hopefully the Braves will come out on top!
I think it’s safe to say this series was disappointing, somewhat maddening, and even embarrassing. The Mets beat up on us in the four out of five games we lost, and even in the game we won, it got too close for comfort. Not to mention, when we would score, our bullpen couldn’t maintain that smaller run differential, and we would end up losing. These five games had a very tense, postseason-like atmosphere. Coming into this series we were 2.5 games out of first, now we are 6.5 games out of first. That is terrible. Let’s just hope, when we play the Mets next, August 15th-18th (at home) the Braves will do much better than this unfortunate series in New York.
Our starters got pummeled in this series. NONE of them got a win in these 5 games. Out of Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, Jake Odorizzi, Max Fried, and Spencer Strider, Ian Anderson was the only one who could have qualified for a win, but he couldn’t get through five innings. What was the most frustrating was that our pitchers would make good pitches, then the Mets hitters would make measly contact with them and get rewarded with an infield hit. The New York Mets get the most infield grounders for hits than any other team I have ever seen. Another thing that plagued our starters was the fact that they gave up too many walks. We were basically giving the Mets opportunities to score and they came through almost every single time.
Our bullpen was said to be the best bullpen in the MLB. But in this series, it definitely did not look the part. Even our bullpen’s best, A.J. Minter, Dylan Lee, and Tyler Matzek, struggled against the Mets. The bullpen struggled with inherited runners, they allowed WAY too many of those to score, they struggled with walks, and they failed to get the third out of an inning. Our relievers could come in and get the first two outs just fine, but then they got into trouble while trying to secure the third out. That was very frustrating to watch, and I’m sure it was even more frustrating for the Braves players and staff.
Atlanta gave up too many situations in which they could have scored. They had first and third or second and third or even the bases loaded with one out in different situations, but almost every single time they could not come through and score. In game four, we had no problem scoring. Finally, the Braves hitters looked liked themselves in the batters box. But aside from that single game, we were swinging at pitches in the dirt and taking wimpy swings. Then we would get a burst of energy in the 9th inning, but we were either too far out of the game to make a comeback or we couldn’t get enough run support through.
The Mets are the Braves biggest competitor. We have seven games, all at home, left to play against them. These games are going to make or break us. This time last year our record was 55-55. We are currently at 64-46, so anything is possible. We cannot give up hope yet!
For the Braves, RHP Kirby Yates has been doing rehab games and is expected to return soon. And Ozzie Albies, Atlanta’s sparkplug, has been doing light baseball activity and his return is said to be around late August to mid September. So hopefully, with these two coming back soon for the Atlanta Braves, it will give us the boost we need with 52 games left to play!
Wow! This has been an amazing run for the Atlanta Braves. Yes, they got off to a slow start this season, and it seemed like they couldn’t get things going on a consistent basis, but now, they are untouchable. Everything is clicking on all cylinders where and when it needs too! With these eleven wins in a row, they have moved from 10 games out of first to now only 5.5 games out of first, behind the New York Mets.
Some may scoff and say that they have swept three teams who aren’t considered the best, but sometimes it has been hard for Atlanta to win against the “easier” teams. They proved in this series that they are still the World Series-caliber team that they were last year.
There were SO MANY positives that came from these eleven games, here are some that stood out to me:
SOLID STARTING PITCHING:
In order to win ballgames, your starting pitchers need to go deep into them. Some of the Braves starters have struggled with pitching deep into games earlier in the season. However, over the past week and a half, they were looking very sharp. Even Charlie Morton, who still has not gotten back to the Charlie Morton we saw last season, pitched 6 innings on Saturday. He did not get the win, but it was nice to see him pitch deeper than four or five innings; plus he had 12 strikeouts over those 6 innings.
The three starting performances that stood out were:
Max Fried’s 8 scoreless innings pitched on June 3 against the Colorado Rockies. Everything was going for Fried that night. He was untouchable! In those eight scoreless innings, he only allowed two hits, one walk, and he only had four strikeouts. He was dominant on the mound and got those ground ball outs that he’s known for getting. It was a shame he didn’t get the win. (In this game the Braves and Rockies went into extras with a scoreless tie.)
Kyle Wright’s 8 innings against the Oakland Athletics on June seventh. In those eight innings, Wright only allowed five hits, two runs, zero walks, and had seven strikeouts. He showed a lot of dominance on the mound and proved that he can pitch late into ballgames and have the same amount of sharpness (if not more) than he started the game with. Kyle Wright is a good young pitcher, and the Braves are lucky to have him.
Spencer Striders scoreless performance on June tenth against the Pittsburg Pirates. For Spencer Strider to have started the season in the bullpen, he is a great starter. He can throw 101 MPH and make it look easy as can be. He has a great slider and a really good fastball. He has come through huge for the Braves and has made a good impact in the starting rotation. In this start against the Pirates, he pitched 5.2 innings, allowed four hits, zero runs, one walk, and he had eight strikeouts. Overall it was a very good performance.
Alongside the Braves starting pitching, the relief core has been lights-out as well. They have kept us in close ball games and preserved late inning leads when they mattered most. Kenley Jansen, who at first made us all nervous every time he came out to pitch, has finally found his groove and is closing games like we saw him close for the Dodgers. No drama, he just comes in and gets the job done.
Will Smith is the same way. He started off the season very similarly to how he did last year where he got into a lot of high-stress situations. But Today (June 12th), he came into the game against the Pirates in the seventh inning and shut down the side while only throwing nine pitches. Hopefully he, along with everyone else in the bullpen, can keep up the good work.
Getting hits, timely ones at that, was often time hard to come by for the Braves’ hitters early on in the season. But in these past eleven games, it’s been hard to get them out!! Lately, Atlanta has found all kinds of ways to get on base — hit, walk, hit-by-pitch, error, etc. But all that matters is they are getting on base and scoring!
In these eleven games, the Atlanta offense hit 22 home runs. Two of which were grand slams…one was by Braves’ catcher Travis d’Arnaud and the other by second baseman Ozzie Albies. d’Arnaud’s came on Thursday, June 2nd in Colorado when the Braves won 13-6, and Ozzie’s came against the Pirates on Saturday when they won 10-4. In the final game of the series against the Pittsburg Pirates, Adam Duvall, who had been struggling a little at the plate, hit two home runs. One he pulled, and the other he smoked to opposite field in the Chop House. Both were huge, and it was so good to see him hit the ball out of the ballpark again…he definitely needed it!
This Atlanta Braves hitting core has been SO fun to watch! They have been so active on the base-pads, and you can see it in how they play. Their faces show that they are enjoying playing ball just as much- if not more- than us fans who are watching them!
MICHAEL HARRIS JR.:
This kid!!! He has impressed me and the Braves organization on so many levels. For him to have skipped Triple-A and come straight from Double-A to the Majors is remarkable. But, you can see why the Braves brought him up when they did. He is HOT right now. Not to mention Harris Jr. is a very good outfielder! He has made multiple plays in center field that have left me in awe of how he even got to the baseball, let alone make the catch. Harris has definitely bolstered the outfield and the bottom of the lineup. All in all, he has been a great addition to this red-hot Atlanta Braves team.
It has been so enjoyable to finally see all of the Braves’ handwork pay off and for them to start playing like we know they are very capable of doing. Hopefully they can keep it up as they head to Washington D.C. to play the Nationals tomorrow!
A sweep! This was Atlanta’s first sweep of the season, and boy did the Braves need it! Not only did this series give them their first sweep, it allowed them to have a five game win streak (the Braves won their last game in Arizona before heading to Colorado), and the Atlanta Braves now have an over .500 record of 28-27. This series has proven that the Braves are capable of being the good, strong team we know them to be. Hopefully, it will prove to be a good turnaround to get them going in the right direction.
IMPROVEMENT IN THE ROTATION AND BULLPEN
All of the Atlanta starters in this series pitched very well. Max Fried especially had an outstanding performance. He pitched eight scoreless innings, allowed only two hits, one walk, he had four strikeouts, and ended his night with 102 pitches. Fried never seemed like he was uncomfortable on the mound and he showed much dominance throughout his performance.
The Braves bullpen has been questionable, to say the least, throughout the start of the season. However, in this series they were quite good. The Atlanta Braves won two games in extra innings… TWO! One of those games was scoreless until they scored in the 10th inning. And in another one of the games, the Braves didn’t capture the lead until the 11th inning. With Matzek on the IL, it was a known fact that people were going to have to start stepping up in the bullpen…and they have finally started to come through! Although he still has a flare for the dramatic, Will Smith has pitched pretty well, and Kenley Jansen is showing he can be that super-star closer that he was with the Dodgers.
CONSISTENCY IN THE LINEUP
At the start of the season, the Braves had a hard time getting runners on base. And when they got runners on base, they had an even harder time scoring them. It also seemed that they relied on a couple guys in the lineup to get on base, score, etc. However, all that has started to change. 1-9 in the Braves lineup came through in this series. Every player contributed in one way or another. They took their walks when they needed to, moved runners over, scored multiple times throughout an inning, and scored in multiple innings.
It was also nice to see Travis d’Arnaud and Adam Duvall get some good hits. Travis hit two home runs in the first game of the series, one of which was a Grand Slam!! He also continued to get hits of any kind. Duvall hit a home run in this series but he also had some doubles, singles, and a triple! It was nice to see Adam Duvall reduce his amount of strikeouts over these four games. Yes, everyone is bound to strike out, but he seemed to do it an awful lot. But in this series he showed much improvement in his pitch selection and how deep he allowed his counts.
The Atlanta Braves are currently 8.5 games behind the first place Mets, but with how the Braves have been playing lately, hopefully they will move closer in the standings and continue to win ball games at their full capacity.
The Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets split their four game series. Although this is not the best outcome, it certainly isn’t the worst. Atlanta came into this series six games back and in fourth place. They left the series six games back and in third place. So, although they moved up a place in the standings, they didn’t gain any significant ground on the first place Mets. The Braves showed some improvement, and some struggles in the same areas.
When the Braves won, their offense was clicking. All throughout the lineup in games one and four (the games they won), the Braves players were getting on base and scoring. In game four, everyone in Atlanta’s lineup reached base, and they scored seven of their nine runs without hitting a home run. That was huge for this Atlanta offense who can rely so heavily on the home run ball. It was also good to see the Braves score runs with two outs. That is something they have struggled with this season. If they can come up clutch in those moments more often…it is going to get them a lot farther this early in the season.
Max Fried and Ian Anderson pitched so well in their starts. In game one, Fried pitched six innings, allowed four hits, two runs, zero walks, and he had six strikeouts. It was very good to see him come off of two good back-to-back starts. Hopefully, he has found his groove and is once again becoming the dominant ace we know him to be. In game four, Anderson pitched 5.1 innings, allowed five hits, one run, four walks, and one strikeout. He also ended the day with 84 pitches, which for Ian, is very good. It was very nice to see these two show some dominance on the mound and come through when they need it.
Ronald Acuña Jr. — He is back for the Braves, and looks healthy! He is not playing every day as they are trying to ease him back in…but he has shown that he isn’t afraid to slide into second base, third base, or home plate. He already has two stolen bases! It has been good to see him back in the lineup and on the field.
Charlie Morton. I don’t know what his problem is, but Morton has had his fair share of struggles on the mound. To me, he just doesn’t look comfortable. We know the pitches he is capable of making and the numbers he can produce, but right now, he just can seem to get his pitches how he wants them. He is hanging his off-speed pitches, and the opposing batters aren’t missing them. Hopefully, Charlie Morton will get everything under control (and soon) because the Braves need him in their starting rotation! They need dominant Charlie Morton so they can win more than two games in a row!!
The Braves have shown what they are capable of…they just can’t seem to keep it up multiple games in a row. It seems like when they win, they win by a lot and everything is clicking. And when they lose, they lose by a lot, and things don’t seem like they are working. It is safe to say they look like two different teams sometimes. Consistency is what I believe they need to work on the most
Hopefully our World Series Champion Atlanta Braves will figure things out within this next home stand and play like we know they can!!
This was a great Opening Day Weekend, especially for the Atlanta Braves! They got to start the season at home, which included even more World Series events: the pennant unveiling, the award ceremony, and of course, the World Series Ring presentation. The Braves and the Cincinnati Reds split the four-game series 2-2. Overall it was a good weekend, but like anything, there are still a few questions to be answered and things to be worked on.
Charlie Morton pitched very well in his return from fracturing his leg last year in Game One of the World Series. He pitched 5.1 innings, allowed only two hits, two runs, one walk, and he had five strikeouts. He also threw a total of 78 pitches. It was very good to see Morton come back the way he did. It was as if he didn’t miss a beat. He was still the same old calm, cool, and collective Charlie Morton out there on the mound. Him being in the rotation is something the Braves are going to need.
Kyle Wright had an impressive start. There have been a lot of questions regarding the Braves starting rotation, but I believe Wright showed that he is capable of being the fourth man in the rotation. He threw six scoreless innings, only allowing two hits and one walk. He also struck out six Reds batters. Overall he had a very impressive start, and proved he can be something that the Braves can use.
Matt Olson really came into his role as a Brave in this series. With it being Opening Day Weekend, I’m sure he had some nerves coming into the first game. Not only with him being the first new first baseman that the Braves fanbase had seen in over 10 years, but also that he was playing in his hometown – FOR his hometown. It’s safe to say he is fitting in very well. In 14 at-bats, Olson has had eight hits, one of which was a home run, and he walked three times. He has also made some very nice plays at first base.
Although Charlie Morton and Kyle Wright pitched well in their appearances, Max Fried and Ian Anderson didn’t do so well. On Opening Day, Fried was the starter. He pitched 5.2 innings, allowed eight hits, five runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. These are not the figures we are used to seeing from Max Fried. He pitched a good first inning, but after that, it was like he lost control of the baseball and couldn’t find his release point. And then, when he finally found it, the Cincinnati hitter were all over that baseball.
Ian Anderson was a similar story. He threw only 2.2 innings, allowed three hits, five runs, five walks, had only one strikeout, and he threw 74 pitches. 74 pitches in 2.2 innings is NOT what you want from a starting pitcher. For his first outing, he had no command of the strike zone, he couldn’t hit his spots, and ended up with more walks than hits. Anderson has good stuff, he just throws too many balls, and that is what gets him in trouble. To me, what he needs to work on this season is having a better command of the strike zone, and limiting the amount of pitches he throws.
Hitting. Something we know the Atlanta Braves can do very well. But, for whatever reason, they cannot seem to get many hits together so far this season. Yes, they’ll get multiple hits a game, but they are never with runners on base. Last season, the Braves were SO good at scoring with two outs. So far this season that has not been the case. Maybe they are just on an all-time high right now with all the World Series festivities, but sooner or later they are going to have to start coming through in run-scoring opportunities.
With all this to be said, the Atlanta Braves are still a very good team with very good potential this season. Once they get everything going, they are going to be very hard to stop!
With Opening day just a couple of weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about lineups, rotations, and rosters. The Atlanta Braves are going to have a very fun lineup this year. It will start without Ronald Acuña Jr. given that he is still healing from a torn ACL, but once he is completely healthy and ready to play it is going to be a SOLID lineup. But hey…we won a World Series without Acuña, so I think we can manage without him until he is healthy enough to play. 😉
LINEUP WITHOUT ACUÑA:
Eddie Rosario (Left Field)
Ozzie Albies (Second Base)
Matt Olson (First Base)
Austin Riley (Third Base)
Marcell Ozuna (Designated Hitter)
Dansby Swanson (Shortstop)
Adam Duvall (Right Field)
Travis d’Arnaud (Catcher)
Guillermo Heredia (Center Field)
Having the lineup like this makes sense to me. Eddie Rosario has proven to us that he can get on base. In the 2021 postseason, he was hitting singles, doubles, triples, home runs, and drawing walks… everything that you would want a lead-off hitter to do. To be a lead-off hitter, you don’t have to have crazy power and hit a homer with every swing. You just need to be able to get on base so the players behind you can drive you in and score runs for your team.
LINEUP WITH ACUÑA:
Ronald Acuña Jr. (Right Field)
Ozzie Albies (Second Base)
Matt Olson (First Base)
Austin Riley (Third Base)
Marcell Ozuna (Designated Hitter)
Eddie Rosario (Left Field)
Travis d’Arnaud (Catcher)
Dansby Swanson (Shortstop)
Adam Duvall (Center Field)
We pretty much already know that once Acuña is back, he will probably be hitting lead-off. My opinion, however, is this: with Acuña’s homer-heavy power, wouldn’t it make sense for him to hit clean-up? I think Ronald Acuña Jr. would make such a good clean-up hitter. If he had Eddie Rosario, Ozzie Albies, and Matt Olson in front of him in the lineup, and then he was hitting fourth, he would have the opportunity to drive in so many runners. Not only would that give him a ton of RBI’s, it would also give the Braves more runs on the board and potentially lead to more wins. Although this seems like such a solid idea, I don’t think Acuña would give up hitting first. He likes hitting first and getting those first-pitch, attention-grabbing home runs. Sometimes I feel he needs a reminder that the game and the lineup isn’t about him…ahem. Maybe his time on the injured-list will remind him that baseball is about getting wins for your team, getting to the postseason, and having another shot at winning the World Series.
I have stacked up the bottom of each lineup differently. All of those players (Rosario, d’Arnaud, Swanson, and Duvall – plus Heredia) are very good. They can hit anywhere in the lineup, which is why I have placed them differently in each one. Looking at both lineups next to each other, they are both very deep and none of those players are considered an easy out.
This is going to be a very exciting season for the Atlanta Braves and I cannot wait to see how it all plays out!