My Thoughts on the Braves Left Field Situation:

So far, the offseason has been a slow one for the Atlanta Braves. One thing I like about the Atlanta organization is that they don’t get involved with all of the offseason rumors. When they make a deal, then they release the information regarding that deal. It just makes everything less stressful. Regarding Dansby Swanson, however, I think all Braves fans are anxiously awaiting news about him.

But today, I want to take the time and talk about left field for the Braves. This has been a position that hasn’t really seemed secure over the past couple years. The Braves signed Marcell Ozuna in February of 2021 to a four-year contract, and it has not proven to be a good signing. Throughout a lot of his contract he has either been injured or in and out of jail and facing the consequences of that. Also, he does not have a good arm, which makes him a sub-par outfielder; he also gets into major slumps at the plate which makes him not so good offensively. Overall he isn’t a good fit for the Braves in left field — but, unfortunately, we seem to be stuck with him on the roster.

The other options the Braves have for left field are:

1) Using Vaughn Grissom as a left fielder – while his position is naturally a shortstop, the Braves had him do left field drills with outfield coach Eric Young during the 2021 season. Grissom is young and could easily tackle a new position. This would be the cheapest move the Atlanta organization could make to solve their left field problem. However, if things were to go south with Dansby Swanson and he were to go elsewhere, Grissom would assumably fill in the shortstop role.

2) Resigning Adam Duvall – Duvall missed most of the 2022 season with a torn ligament in his thumb, but he has proven to be a key player for the Atlanta team. He is currently a free agent, and could honestly be scooped up for pretty cheap. Although he is known to get into his slumps at the plate, he is a good defender and has made game-saving plays a time or two for the Braves team. He is also a decent home-run hitter in moments that count.

3) Finding a good left fielder on the Free Agent Market – this is also a logical choice, but it could potentially cost a pretty penny. There’s a long list of free agent outfielders – a lot of those being left fielders. However, if Anthopoulos is working to grant Dansby a big contract, the Braves organization probably won’t have much more money to throw towards a big name left fielder.

In the end, only time will tell what the Atlanta Braves are going to do. If it was me, I would sign Adam Duvall because we know he can be a very good player and he fits in with the Braves club well. But right now, this isn’t really the Braves biggest concern. That, obviously, is the signing of All-Star shortstop, Dansby Swanson. But, left field is a problem that can’t, and won’t, be ignored.

GO BRAVES!

My Thoughts on the Braves vs. Mets Series:

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.

STARTING PITCHING:

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.

RELIEF PITCHING:

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.

OFFENSIVELY:

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!

GO BRAVES!!

Eleven in a Row! And Three Sweeps!!

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.

RELIEF PITCHING:

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.

CONSISTANT HITTING:

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!

Always and forever, GO BRAVES!

Takeaways From Braves vs Mets Series:

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.

THE POSITIVE:

  • 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.

THE NEGATIVE:

  • 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!!

GO BRAVES!

Takeaways From Braves’ First Road Trip:

After all the World Series celebrations came to a close, the Braves took their first road trip of the season. It was against two very good teams: the San Diego Padres and the Los Angelas Dodgers. Obviously, the most anxiously awaited series was the Braves and Dodgers because Atlanta would see Freddie Freeman for the first time in a different jersey. Watching the games, you could definitely tell there were emotions from both sides, but at the end of the day it’s baseball and things like this happen. Freddie Freeman hit two home runs against the Braves, and we got to feel the impact of having him on another team… he is definitely one tough batter to get out!

Atlanta split the series with the Padres 2-2 and lost the series 2-1 against the Dodgers. The Braves showed some improvement in areas, but they still need to figure out consistent hitting and get the starting rotation completely under control.

MY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Ian Anderson and Max Fried both showed significant improvement in their second starts. Ian pitched 5.2 innings, only allowed 2 hits, one run, had one walk, seven strikeouts, and he threw 89 pitches. This was an amazing bounce-back from his first outing. He was dominate on the mound and seemed much more comfortable out there.
  • Same goes for Max Fried. He looked completely different on the mound compared to his previous starts. He pitched seven SCORELESS innings, allowed only two hits, zero walks, and had seven strikeouts! His command of all his pitches was so much better and he looked more comfortable on the mound and was in control of the baseball, being able make his pitches and get the ball on the ground. It was very nice to see him AND Ian Anderson pitch like we know they are capable of doing!
  • Charle Morton. He did SO well in his first start of the season, but he got beat up big time on this road trip. Once by the Padres and by the Dodgers. It looks like he doesn’t have command of his pitches right now, and he’s trying to re-figure them out. Last season we got so used to the ace Charlie Morton, but if you remember… at the start of the last season he didn’t pitch fantastic. So maybe it just takes him some time to fully regain his mound presence and pitches.
  • The Atlanta Braves are a very powerful team and we know for a FACT that they can hit…they just can’t seem to get consecutive hits right now!!! Matt Olson is the only Braves player who can seem to get on base multiple at-bats in a row. Ozzie Albies has started to break through, he hit four home runs on the road trip and had multiple base hits, but other than him and Olson, everyone else is hit-or-miss (literally). The Braves can’t seem to get more than two wins in a row either, and now that pitching is starting to come together more…it’s going to be up to the offense to come through.

You might be saying to yourself, “The Braves have hit a lot of home runs this year…so why don’t they have a better record than 6-8?” Well, that’s because 15 out of the 16 home runs the Atlanta hitters have hit have been solo shots. The only home run hit with baserunners was a 2-run shot on opening day by Austin Riley. Other than that, the Braves are having a hard time hitting these home runs with people on base. And trust me, they have had plenty of times to score more runners, but in those moments, we seem to either strike out or hit into a double play.

I’d say the Braves biggest priority is hitting with runners on base. You can’t win ballgames without scoring, and it’s going to take more than a couple solo home runs to win a baseball game. All the teams in and out of the National League East have gotten better this year, and it is going to be a long ride if Atlanta can’t figure their hitting situation out.

Although they still have some things to work out, I’m sure it won’t be too too long until they start being the Atlanta Braves team we are so used to seeing!

GO BRAVES!!

My Takeaways From Opening Day Weekend:

Let’s Play Ball!

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.

THE POSITIVES:

  • 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.

THE NEGATIVES:

  • 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!

2021 World Series Champs

GO BRAVES!

My Atlanta Braves Lineup Predictions

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:

  1. Eddie Rosario (Left Field)
  2. Ozzie Albies (Second Base)
  3. Matt Olson (First Base)
  4. Austin Riley (Third Base)
  5. Marcell Ozuna (Designated Hitter)
  6. Dansby Swanson (Shortstop)
  7. Adam Duvall (Right Field)
  8. Travis d’Arnaud (Catcher)
  9. 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:

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr. (Right Field)
  2. Ozzie Albies (Second Base)
  3. Matt Olson (First Base)
  4. Austin Riley (Third Base)
  5. Marcell Ozuna (Designated Hitter)
  6. Eddie Rosario (Left Field)
  7. Travis d’Arnaud (Catcher)
  8. Dansby Swanson (Shortstop)
  9. 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.

NOTE:

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!

GO BRAVES!

A Wrap of the Braves First Half of the Season

To say the least, it was a chaotic, unstable, and disappointing first half for the Atlanta Braves. They did not end the first half of the season with a winning record, let alone a .500 record. They entered the All-Star break with a losing record of 44-45.

Inconsistency was a big factor in that. Their pitching was all over the place – especially the bullpen. In their starting rotation, Charlie Morton was the only reliable one. And that is still somewhat true coming into this second half of the season. Drew Smyly has gotten more consistent, as well as Max Fried and Ian Anderson. But Atlanta’s bullpen was, and is, the main problem. Their bullpen couldn’t keep a Braves’ lead in a tight scoring game or keep the run differential close in a situation where the Braves were losing. Another problem that their pitching staff has is that they walk WAY too many batters. It seems almost every time pitchers walk a guy, they come back and score. Walks will always come back to haunt a pitcher. They’ve also had some closer problems: AJ Minter and Will Smith. They come on to pitch in the ninth inning, and it seems like they try to find a way to blow the game. They walk batters, give up home runs, allow hits and runs galore. This season they have given up almost 30 hits, 30 runs, and over 20 walks. They doesn’t pitch every single day, but those aren’t the numbers you want to see from your closers.

The Braves have also been tortured with injuries. The most significant of those would be the most recent: Ronald Acuña Jr. is out of the rest of the season. And, of course, his season-ending injury came against the Miami Marlins. In game two of the most recent series played with Miami (July 10th), Acuña was trying to field a well-hit ball at the warning track in right field. He ran full speed towards the baseball in mid-air and missed. He then fell and put all of his body weight on his right knee, which buckled under all the pressure. He then collapsed, and after being carted off the field, he was examined and he’d torn his right ACL. He had to have immediate surgery, and he will miss the rest of the 2021 season.

Atlanta will now have to finish their 2021 season without their young superstar. Obviously things will be different offensively and defensively, but I don’t think this takes them out of postseason chances. The Braves will just have to work harder and play a better. And if they do make it to the postseason, it will prove just how good this Atlanta Braves team really is.

Another injury- which turned into a shocking blow, came in the month of May. This came from Marcell Ozuna. On May 26th, against the Boston Red Sox, Ozuna fractured two fingers sliding into third base. He was sent to Atlanta for examination and treatment. Three days later, on May 29th an article was released that he had been arrested for domestic family violence. That was certainly a shocking and unexpected blow for the Braves. Not only is he hurt and won’t be able to play this season… but he was arrested, and got out of jail not too long ago. So he is definitely done for this season, if not for the rest of his career.

The Braves also lost Travis d’Arnaud to a torn left thumb ligament. He tore it on May 1st and has been on the injured list since. Hopefully he can come back in mid-August. He is such a good player, and it’s a shame for him to not be able to play.

The final injury that I’m going to discuss is that of Huascar Ynoa. Ynoa had pitched some with the Braves in relief during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but his career as a starting pitcher really began this season. And boy, was he impressive! In fact, he was probably the best pitcher Atlanta had AND he could hit. In seventeen at-bats, he had six hits, and two home runs – one of witch was a grand slam. A GRAND SLAM!! He was beyond impressive at the plate and on the mound.

However, after a frustrating start on the mound for Huascar, he went into the Braves dugout and punched the bench. Nothing was said of it during the game in mid-May. But after his hand was evaluated, he had broken it. So disappointing. He was such an impressive young player and had (hopefully still has) such a great career ahead of him. He was, is, and will be missed by the Braves. Ynoa’s return date isn’t clear, but it is not expected until after the middle of August.

Although the Braves had many struggles and hard times in the first half of the season, they had shining moments that gave us hope that the Atlanta Braves we know and love are still with us!

Up to his season-ending injury, Ronald Acuña Jr. had an amazing season. He hit twenty-four home runs… TWENTY-FOUR! That is an insane amount. Multiple players across MLB don’t hit that many home runs in an entire 162-game season. He definitely had some sparks coming off his bat almost every time he was at the plate. Acuña was to make his second All-Star Game appearance as a starter this year, but obviously his injury robbed him of that great opportunity. He also led all of MLB players in All-Star votes. Wow!

Ozzie Albies had a great first half to his 2021 season. No, he hasn’t hit as many home runs as Acuña, nor is he the “face of the franchise,” but he is just as good – if not better than Acuña. He leads the Braves in RBI’s with 63, and he leads them in doubles with 27. Not only is Ozzie impressive at the plate, he is extremely impressive on the field. His defensive skills are through the roof! He may be smaller than everyone else… but he can run fast, field well, and make super hard plays look easy. My Ozzie is a consistent, reliable player that the Braves can count on. He was also voted into the All-Star game – and he got to play! It was his second appearance, and he wasn’t a starter, even though he should have been. Albies is such a fun player to watch, and I can’t wait to see what he continues to bring for Atlanta the rest of the season!

Freddie Freeman got off to a very, very slow first few weeks for Atlanta, but he finally started to heat up and look like the MVP Freddie we are used too. Coming into the break (and even now out of the break) his bat was hot. He was hitting extra base hits galore. Before his bat came to life, all he did was walk…or strikeout. Freeman was also awarded the honor of being in the All-Star game. It was his fifth All-Star appearance, and he was a starter.

There are SO MANY good things that have happened already for the Braves this season – even with them having a losing record and their struggles. However, with their two newly added players: outfielder Joc Pederson and catcher Stephen Vogt, I believe that Atlanta will hit a streak where everything starts to click and they will get to a winning record. They really need to put some major pressure on the first place Mets in the NL East.

Braves vs. Red Sox Series Wrap

Injuries have shown to be quite a problem for the Braves. They are now without Marcell Ozuna, who fractured two fingers on his left hand while sliding into third base in game one of this series. The Braves say it will take around six weeks for him to be able to come back and play. Ozuna may not have the strongest arm in the outfield, but he has big-time power at the plate that has been a huge bonus for the Braves in the lineup with him hitting behind Freddie Freeman. Braves’ manager, Brain Snitker, will now have to adjust his lineup in order to fill Ozuna’s gap while he is unable to play.

Game One: Charlie Morton vs. Garrett Richards, Braves won 3-1

Charlie Morton pitched extremely well for the Braves. He got off to a shaky start in the first inning, but was able to calm down, and pitch a gem for the rest of the game. Morton went seven innings, he allowed only three hits, one run, two walks, and he had nine strikeouts… nine! Charlie started off slow with Atlanta, but he seems to have gotten into his groove and has been giving the Braves good quality starts.

The Red Sox kept their 1-0 lead until the top of the third inning. William Contreras started off the inning with a walk, which was followed by a lineout of Acuña. Freddie Freeman came on with one out and had a first pitch single. Marcell Ozuna followed Freeman with an RBI single to tie the game at 1 apiece. Ozzie Albies followed Ozuna’s single with a fielders choice that scored Freeman giving the Braves the lead at 2-1. Marcell Ozuna was tagged out at third base to make the second out of the inning and that slide also led to his injury that I mentioned earlier. It’s going to be a huge difference not having him in the Braves lineup… especially since Ozuna was starting to look like the Marcell Ozuna the Braves had in the 2020 season.

The Braves scored their third and final run on an RBI double by Ronald Acuña Jr in the top of the sixth inning. Pablo Sandoval was the baserunner who scored for the Braves; he had reached base on a single. That run made it 3-1 Braves. It was good to see the Braves score without hitting a home run. The Braves lead ALL of Major League baseball in home runs. They have hit a grand total of 80… so far!

Game Two: Drew Smyly vs. Nick Pivetta, Braves lost 9-5

Rain delay games are never fun. I’m sure for players it’s hard to keep their momentum after having to be contained inside for a long period of time.

Drew Smyly started off pitching well for the Braves, giving up only three runs through the first five innings he had pitched. But he fell apart in the sixth inning. He lost his command and had baserunners everywhere. Then Luke Jackson was brought on in relief and he had a mess to get out of and eventually couldn’t.

The Braves started the scoring with a RBI triple by my man, Ozzie Albies, which gave the Braves a 1-0 lead, and then Dansby Swanson scored him on an RBI double to make it 2-0 after the top of the first. The Braves scored again in the top of the second on a sac fly by William Contreras to make it 3-o Braves. And then, in the top of the fifth inning, Austin Riley hit a solo home run making it 4-3 Braves on top.

After the Red Sox blew it open in the bottom the sixth inning and the rain delay, it was a 7-4 game, Sox on top. The Red Sox added onto their lead again in the bottom of the eighth inning on an error by Swanson that allowed a runner to score, and a sac fly that allowed another Red Sox runner to score, extending their lead to 9-4.

The Braves got one run closer on a solo home run by William Contreras in the top of the ninth to make it 9-5, but it ultimately wasn’t enough and the Red Sox held on for the win and a split series.

The Braves need some help… and they need it as soon as possible! Their starting pitching has improved quite a bit, but the bullpen still has some problems to be fixed. Hopefully when Shane Greene is ready to come up from Triple-A Gwinnett, that will add more stability in the bullpen. However, injuries are killing us. Injuries will happen, but the Braves have been hit with a ton of injuries that hurt a lot and have a long recovery time. Surely they will figure out something soon and get into a good groove!

Braves vs. Pirates Series Wrap

What a series! The Braves may not have swept the Pirates, but they definitely broke out offensively and were able to score multiple runs an inning, all through the lineup. Starting pitching also continued to go well for the Braves, and in the last three games of the series, the bullpen was much better than we’ve seen.

Game One: Drew Smyly vs. Wil Crowe, Braves lost 6-4

Drew Smyly’s start for the Braves started out looking like it was going to be a rough one, but he turned that around and pitched a good quality six innings for the Braves. He allowed six hits, three runs, only one walk, and he had seven strikeouts. Although the three runs he gave up were all via home run, it was nice to see Smyly be able to hold the score for the Pirates at 3 and give his team a chance to come back.

The Braves tried hard for the comeback! In the bottom of the second inning, William Contreras hit a three run homer to left field, giving the Braves the lead at 3-2. Then, in the bottom of the sixth inning, (after the Pitsburg Pirates scored their third run) Dansby Swanson hit a two run bomb to left field, making it 4-3 Braves.

Sean Newcomb started the seventh inning for the Braves. He got two outs in his appearance, but he also surrendered the lead and made it a tied ballgame. The game remained tied and went into extra innings.

Jacob Webb came on to pitch the top of the tenth inning. This was his first appearance on the mound for the Atlanta Braves since he hit Mets’ player Kevin Pillar in the face on May 17. You could tell that Webb was still uncomfortable on the mound, and he did not pitch inside to the Pirates players at all. He left everything over the plate and the Pirates didn’t miss a pitch. Webb gave up a lead off single and then an RBI single to Kevin Newman to make it 5-4 Pirates on top. He then got a forceout that advanced Newman to third, and then Grant Dayton came on in relief of Webb. He gave up a sac fly to make it 6-4 Pirates.

The Braves had no luck in the bottom of the ninth inning to make a comeback.

Game Two: Ian Anderson vs. Tyler Anderson, Braves won 20-1

Hehe. This was certainly a super fun game to watch. I mean, it’s not every day the Braves score 20 runs in a game, right?! The Braves scored early in this game, and didn’t stop scoring until it was over.

Ian Anderson did a fantastic job pitching for the Braves in this game. He went six innings, allowed six hits, gave up zero runs, and ZERO walks. Not to mention he also had six strikeouts. It was nice to see Anderson be able to have command over his ball-to-strike ratio and not give up any walks. That is a huge component to have from your starting pitcher. Free baserunners pretty much always come around and score, and those hurt your team the worst. But Anderson didn’t not pitch himself into any trouble and had a great outing.

In the bottom of the first inning, Ozzie Albies had an RBI double, his thirteenth of the season, which scored Ronald Acuña Jr. and gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. After my man Ozzie got the scoring started, the Braves they were on fire offensively!

In the bottom of the second inning, Dansby Swanson led off with a double, followed by a walk to Kevan Smith, who was making his Atlanta Braves’ debut as catcher. That walk was followed by a single to Guillermo Heredia to load the bases. After Ian Anderson struck out, Ronald Acuña Jr was in the batter’s box for the Braves. After working a full count, Acuña got a pitch off the plate and drove it into the seats of the Chop House for a grand slam. The Braves extended their lead to 5-0. Acuña once again added onto the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning with a sac fly that scored Guillermo Heredia making it 6-0, all Braves.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Ozuna led off with a four pitch walk. Ozzie Albies was up to bat, and after working a 2-1 count, Ozzie hit a home run to left center field making it 8-0 Braves. Yay! After Ozzie had gotten his Panda hug in the dugout, Austin Riley sent a bomb out of the ballpark for a solo home run making it 9-0. That was just the second time the Atlanta Braves had gone back-to-back with home runs all season.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Braves hit yet another home run. This one was by Marcell Ozuna. He hit it to left field and extended the lead to 10-0, all Braves. The very next inning, the Braves once again added on. Austin Riley hit another home run and then following his homer, Dansby Swanson hit one out of the park. That made it 12-0 Braves and the third time the Braves had hit back-to-back homers this season… the second of that night!

As if the Braves hadn’t scored enough… they added on big time to their already huge lead in the bottom of the eighth. Freddie Freeman led the inning off with a walk. Ozuna followed his walk with a double, and then Ozzie had a walk. The bases were loaded with no one out. Riley had a sac fly to score Freeman and make it 13-0. Swanson came up to bat and he had a walk. Then the Braves catcher Kevan Smith, had an RBI single that score Ozuna, making it 14-0. The Braves still had the bases loaded. Heredia was up to bat next and he had another RBI single making it 15-0 Braves. The Braves played their other baserunner station to station, so they still had the bases loaded with one out.

Ehire Adrianza came on to pinch-hit for Josh Tomlin, who pitched two scoreless innings for the Braves in relief of Anderson. On the FIRST PITCH he saw Adrianza hit a GRAND SLAM into the Chop House making it 19-0 Braves. Following the grand slam, Acuña struck out then Freeman had a double and Ozuna scored him with another double making it 20-0 Braves. Wow!

It would’ve been amazing for the Braves to have shut out the Pirates 20-0. Jacob Webb pitched the ninth inning for the Braves. He was still looking for a bounce-back start after hitting Kevin Pillar of the Mets in the face on May 17. He got the first guy out with no problem, but then Webb allowed a walk to Erik Gonzalez. It was the only walk a Braves pitcher gave to the Pirates in the entire game. It would’ve been so great to see the Braves pitching staff go an entire game without giving up a walk, but that wasn’t meant to be. After the walk, Webb gave up a single to Ben Gamel. Gonzalez advanced to third base on a throwing error by Webb. He then got a strikeout of Cole Tucker, and then gave up a RBI single to Will Craig making the score 20-1. Webb got the final out of the inning without giving up anymore runs. The one run that the Pirates score was the walk that Jacob Webb gave up… walks always come back to haunt a pitcher.

Following that bullpen appearance, Jacob Webb was sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett. I think that was a smart move for the Braves to make, and I personally thing that the Atlanta Braves coaching staff should have made that move a long time ago.

Game Three: Bryse Wilson vs. Mitch Keller, Braves won 6-1

Most of the time after a team has a blow out game, they don’t always score a lot of runs or win the next game. The Braves however took the momentum of the night before and carried it into this game.

Bryse Wilson pitched very well for the Braves. He went 6.2 innings allowing only five hits, one run, two walks, and he struck out four Pittsburgh batters. Wilson never really struggled in this outing. He had a few baserunners scattered here and there and gave up a solo home run to Michael Perez in the top of the third, but that was it.

The Braves started the scoring early. In the Bottom of the first inning, Ronald Acuña Jr. led the game off with a first pitch solo home run giving the Braves a 1-0 lead. It’s impressive to see Acuña be able to hit a homer on the first pitch, especially with how far he can hit them! The Braves added onto their lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Austin Riley that scored Freddie Freeman and made it 2-0 Braves. In the bottom of the third inning, Freeman had an RBI single that scored Ender Inciarte, making it 3-0 Braves still on top.

Braves were up 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Freeman led off the inning with a four-pitch walk. Marcell Ozuna followed him with a flyout, and that brought Ozzie Albies up to the plate. (He was hitting from the left side.) On the first pitch he saw, he hit a BOMB into the seats in right center field for a two-run homer making it 5-1 Braves. And then, as if one home run wasn’t enough, Ozzie hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning from the right side of the plate, making it 6-1 Braves.

Ozzie may be little, but he has gigantic power! He really showed that with those two home runs. He definitely powered the Braves, along with good pitching, into another Braves win against the Pirates.

Game Four: Max Fried vs. JT Brubaker, Braves won 7-1

Max Fried got off to a shaky start for the Braves but settled down and pitched a great game. He went seven innings allowing only four hits, one run, three walks, and had two strikeouts.

The one run that Fried gave up was on an RBI double by Bryan Reynolds. That gave them a 1-0 lead, but Max was able to stop the Pirates there and give his Braves a chance to score.

The Atlanta Braves offense did just that. Acuña grounded out, and Freeman struck out to start off the inning. The Braves now had two outs, Ozuna had a single to keep the Braves alive in the inning. Ozzie followed Ozuna with an in-field single. Austin Riley came up to bat and he turned the game around for Atlanta with a three run home run. Whew! This kid’s got some home run power.

Austin Riley added onto the Braves lead in the bottom of the third with another home run! This one was a two-run shot, making it 5-1 Braves. The Braves scored one more time in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-run home run by Dansby Swanson, making it 7-1 Braves. That was the final score of the game.

One fun fact about all three home runs in game four of the series was that Ozzie was on base for all of them! He had a single in the first, was hit by a pitch in the third, and had another single in the bottom of the sixth. Albies really started to come to life in this series, and I’m sure it has made him and the coaching staff happy. It’s made me happy for sure!