It’s Time! The NLDS Braves vs Phillies Starts Today:

Postseason baseball has officially begun! The Wild Card series’ were full of much excitement and a lot of surprises. The Philadelphia Phillies swept the Saint Louis Cardinals and are now about to face off against the reigning World Series Champions: the Atlanta Braves.

This isn’t going to be an easy series for the Braves. The Phillies have shown to be a better team than most thought they were this year, and they have good hitters and some good starting pitchers. With all this to be said, I still believe the Braves are the better team. Atlanta has had almost a week of rest, and while some people think too much rest is a bad thing and can put them off their game, I think rest was just what the Braves have needed. The series that Atlanta played with the Mets was crucial, and I am sure it was both physically and mentally exhausting for the Braves players…they gave that series their all. And giving it their all is what they’re going to have to do throughout the Postseason.

Starting pitching wise, the Braves have a solid rotation. Max Fried has been announced to start game one, and I think they’ll start Kyle Wright in game two and most likely Charlie Morton for game three. Spencer Strider could have the possibility of starting in the NLDS, but I don’t think the Braves will rush him into pitching. They will want him completely healed and without risk of injuring himself worse.

The Braves have a good bullpen. We have seen them be lights-out countless times this season. Those pitchers have A+ stuff. We have seen them pitch in high leverage situations and come out on the winning side…we especially saw this in the decisive Braves vs. Mets series. The one thing that is going to bring some concern is the closing role in the bullpen. That role belongs to Kenley Jansen. Kenley has had his ups and downs this season, but he has come through when the games have mattered the most. We can only hope to see him bring those same results as we enter the Postseason.

Offensively, we known the Braves have a LOT of power. They can hit the home run ball left and right. However, they are going to need more than home runs to carry them through the Postseason. Small ball is important in any baseball game, but it is even bigger in Postseason games. Getting on base, moving runners over, and scoring is what matters most. Yes, you can score with a home run, and they are loud and exciting, but you have to be able to score runs without a home run. You have to be able to take advantage of pitchers “slip-ups” such as walks. There are only so many runners you can leave on base without it coming back to bite you in a huge way. This will be something for the Braves to start to do more of as we begin Postseason baseball.

The Atlanta Braves have superb defense. The infield especially is quite impressive. This is something that has helped Atlanta throughout the entire season. Having a good defense behind your pitchers is something you can’t take for granted. The Braves defense always seems to come through in huge situations. We saw this in last year’s Postseason and time and time again this season.

Everything is set at a higher standard in the Postseason. It’s the best of the best battling against one another to avoid elimination and come out on top as Champions. We saw the Atlanta Braves do this last year, and they are just as capable to do it again this year. It will be an exciting Postseason run this year and the Braves won’t go down without a fight!

One more thing to add. Ozzie Albies, who fractured his right pinky ringer in mid-September against the Phillies, just two days after returning from a foot injury, is now out of his cast. This is a huge step for Albies who has the potential of making a Postseason return. This is another aspect of that extra week of rest from clinching the Division that has played so well in the Braves favor. Ozzie Albies will have to regain some strength in his hand after being in a cast, and the Braves coaching staff will be cautious with him, not wanting to risk another injury to their young superstar. On another note regarding Albies, it was announced today that he will be traveling with the Braves for the NLDS and will participate in on-the-field activities and workouts with the team. All of these are huge steps in the right direction, and I know that the team and all of Braves country would be over the moon to see Albies come back in the Postseason!

GO BRAVES!!

Coming in Hot: Braves Sweep the Mets!

Game 1 of the 3-game series

What a series! If you like high-intensity, every-pitch-counts-baseball, then this was your series. Coming into this series against the Mets, all of Braves country was nervous. I mean, it’s not every day that you have to sweep your biggest Division rivals in order to have a good shot at clinching the division and having possession of a winning record against them in case there were to be a tiebreaker. It was a tall order for the Braves – especially against a good team like the Mets – but our Bravos did not disappoint!

GAME ONE: Max Fried vs. Jacob DeGrom; Braves win 5-2

I was so sure this game was going to be a pitching duel. A low scoring, old fashioned pitchers duel…I was wrong. While both Fried and DeGrom had their shutdown innings and pitched like aces, Atlanta’s offense ended up scoring five runs — three of them off of DeGrom. The Mets scored two runs in total and only one off of Max Fried. Fried pitched very well, but he had to leave after the 5th inning with only 71 pitches because he began to throw up in the dugout and it was later announced that he had the stomach bug. For Max to have pitched the five top-notch innings that he did while being sick is just amazing. Talk about putting your team above yourself.

Offensively for the Braves, they were home run driven. Austin Riley and Matt Olson had back-to-back solo shots in the bottom of the second inning which put the Braves up 2-1. And then, in the bottom of the 6th, Dansby Swanson hit a solo home run to give the Braves a 3-1 lead. All three of those home runs came off of Jacob DeGrom, but Dansby’s was much more meaningful. It was his 100th home run of his career, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The bullpen for Atlanta, like we have grown so accustomed to, got the job done. A.J. Minter allowed a nerve-wrecking solo home run to Tomas Nido in the top of the 8th, but that was it. In the top of the 9th inning, Kenley Jansen gave ALL of Braves Country a huge scare. Being there in person was unlike any stress I’ve ever known. The crowd was groaning, cheering, sighing, and cheering again. Kenley loaded the bases with only one out. But somehow, someway, Kenley got out of it without a single run scoring and gave the Braves game one of the series with a 5-2 win.

GAME TWO: Kyle Wright vs. Max Scherzer; Braves win 4-2

Kyle Wright got off to a rocky start but was able to come back and secure the win for Atlanta. When he’s on his A-game, Wright gets a lot of groundouts, and after the first inning, that is what he got. He went 5 innings, allowed 7 hits, 2 runs, one walk, and had three strikeouts. So overall, it wasn’t a bad outing. The bullpen was able to keep the Mets at bay and prevent any further damage for the rest of the game. And, Kenley Jansen pitched a stress-free 1-2-3 inning.

Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson once again brought the power for the Braves. Swanson hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 5th inning, and in the bottom of the 6th inning, Olson went yard to give the braves a 4-2 lead.

This game showed what the Atlanta Braves bullpen can do. There were SO many chances for the Mets to score, yet they could not make contact with anything the Braves relievers were throwing. And when they did make contact, Atlanta’s superb defense was there to make the play — hello, Michael Harris II!! This was an overall good game for Atlanta that started out scary and ended with a Braves’ victory.

GAME THREE: Charlie Morton vs. Chris Bassitt; Braves win 5-3

Talk about a great way to end the series. Dansby Swanson led off the game with a bang: an opposite field solo shot in the bottom of the first to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. This was his third home run in as many games. He hit a home run off of all three Mets starters: Jacob DeGrom, Max Scherzer, and Chris Bassitt.

The Mets beat up on Charlie Morton a little bit, scoring three runs off of him in 4.1 innings. But they couldn’t come up with anymore run support.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Braves’ bats came to life once again, except this time it wasn’t via the home run ball. With the bases loaded and two outs, Matt Olson walked to score a run, and then Travis d’Arnaud had a two-run single to give the Braves a 4-3 lead. Then as if Dansby hitting a home run in all three games wasn’t cool enough, Matt Olson decided to do it, too. He hit a towering solo home run in the bottom of the 6th inning to give the Braves a 5-3 lead.

And that 5-3 lead was all the Atlanta bullpen needed. Kenley Jansen came in for the third straight game and was lights out! This awesome showing allowed the Braves to win their 100th game, sweep the Mets, win the head-to-head series with the Mets, and give the Braves a 2.0 game lead in the division. Talk about a productive win. šŸ™‚

The Atlanta Braves magic number to win the division is now one, and they are set to play a three game series against the Marlins in Miami starting tonight to finish out the regular season. I have all confidence in what the Braves are capable of and are excited to see them play in the postseason!

GO BRAVES!!

Crucial Series Against the Mets Starts Friday for the Braves:

With a devastating loss to the Washington Nationals in extra innings on Wednesday night, the Atlanta Braves are 1.0 games out of first place. This loss is going to prove to be very significant. If the Braves had won that game, they would be tied for first place with the Mets in the NL East. But since they lost, they are once again behind the Mets and are going to have to fight very hard in this upcoming series.

The Mets have been a tough opponent for Atlanta this year, and this series is going to be no different with two first-place-worthy teams going head to head in the final week of the season. The Braves will be on their home field and the games have been sold out for months It will feel like major postseason games over this weekend.

Unfortunately, the Braves are at a small disadvantage. They have to win more games to have a chance to clinch the Division. This is where that loss against the Nationals is really starting to bite, because if they had won we wouldn’t be 1.0 games out of first. If they Mets were to sweep the Braves, they would clinch, and the Braves would be in the Wild Card. If the Mets won two out of three of the games, their magic number would be at one going into a series against the last place Washington Nationals. Even if the Mets were to win just ONE of the games in this series, they will win the series season and if it were to come down to a tie breaker (which that looks like what is going to happen) then the Mets would be given first place.

If the Braves were to sweep the Mets, the division title would swing back into the Braves’ favor with a 2.0 game first place lead over the Mets. If they were to win 2 out of three of the games, they would have a realistic shot of clinching the division for a fifth straight year. However, it will all depend on how the Braves play against the Miami Marlins after the Mets leave town, and how the Mets play against the Washington Nationals.

The pitching for this series is going to be something else. Atlanta’s best vs the Mets’ best. The starting rotation for this series will look like this unless something were to change:

FRIDAY: Max Fried vs. Jacob DeGrom

SATURDAY: Kyle Wright vs. Max Scherzer

SUNDAY: Charlie Morton vs. Chris Bassitt

This is going to be a very stressful, very exciting series. It’s games like these that make baseball such a great sport. You can play an entire season and have a truckload of wins, but it all comes down to a few, high-intensity games against your rival to determine who will come out on top.

Yes, if the Braves don’t win the division, they will still be guaranteed Postseason berth via the Wild Card. However, you want to win the Division because, not only does it prove your capabilities as a team, but it also gives you a week’s worth of rest since you wouldn’t have to play in a three game Wild Card series to move on in the Postseason. Instead, after the break you would go straight to the NLDS and play the winner of the first NL Wild Card. Also, if the Braves were to win the Division, they would not have to play the Dodgers in the NLDS. The Braves would play the winner of the second NL Wild Card and wait and see if they would end up playing the Dodgers in the NLCS if both teams make it that far.

Overall, there is some big advantages to winning your Division. I’m not quite sure how things are going to play out, but I have faith that the Braves are capable of winning the Division and proving themselves once again in the Postseason. However, if they were to sadly not win the Division for the fifth straight year, I also have faith that they can take care of business in the Postseason. After all, we’ve seen them do it before. šŸ˜‰

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!!

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 AcuƱa 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!

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!

Braves vs. Mets Series Wrap

The New York Mets are in first place for a reason. They have very good pitching. They have a good bullpen, and they don’t have to worry about it blowing close games for them. Plus, they have a decent hitting lineup all the way through. The Atlanta Braves put up a good fight against them however. They split the series, and the doubleheader. Their main problem was relief pitching. A trend that we’ve seen haunt them throughout the entire 2021 season thus far.

Game One: Kyle Muller vs. Jacob DeGrom, Braves lost 4-2

Jacob DeGrom is a very tough pitcher to face, and the Braves got to experience him first hand. The Braves got one hit and two walks off of DeGrom. One of the walks that he surrendered to the Braves was to Atlanta’s pitcher Kyle Muller. In his first major league plate-appearance, Muller drew an eight pitch walk off of Mets ace, Jacob DeGrom. You know he had to be absolutely pumped about that outcome, and it’s something that he will never forget.

Kyle Muller pitched well for the Braves in his first major league appearance as a starting pitcher. He gave up one run, which came on a wild pitch, one hit, two walks and had three strikeouts over four innings. The Braves bullpen was ultimately what blew the game for Atlanta. Braves manager Brian Snitker only let Muller go four innings. I get that it was his first appearance as a starter in his career (it was only his second appearance… ever), but he only had 56 pitches and was doing quite well. In the end, it was one of those questionable bullpen calls made by Snitker that didn’t pay off for the Braves.

The pitcher that Snitker brought on after Kyle Muller, was Shane Greene. Greene re-signed with Atlanta in the middle of this season. He hasn’t preformed very well, but he has had a lot of pressure on him and has tried to over preform. He got the first out, then hit the next batter. He gave up two straight singles to load the bases with Mets. He got the next batter out. So it was bases loaded, two outs. Dominic Smith was up to bat for New York, and he hit a bases clearing double to extend the Mets lead at 4-0.

The only real offense that the Braves had was in the top of the sixth inning. After Ronald AcuƱa Jr. struck out, Freddie Freeman followed him with what he does best… a walk. My man, Ozzie Albies, got the Braves on the board when he smoked a two-run dinger into the seats in right center field. That made the score 4-2 New York still on top, the final score of the game.

Game Two: Ian Anderson vs. Jerad Eickhoff, Braves won 1-0; game two of doubleheader

This was such a good game- it was even better because the Braves won. It was a close game all the way through with high-stress innings, pitches, and defensive plays.

Ian Anderson pitched great for Atlanta. He went 5.1 innings, allowed three hits, one walk and had five strikeouts. He ran into a little bit of trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning, which is ultimately why Anderson was taken out of the game.

A.J. Minter was brought in following Ian Anderson. He got into a little bit of deeper trouble, but the Mets’ players on base made some bad base running mistakes, and Atlanta’s great defense took full advantage of it to get out of trouble.

The one run that the Atlanta Braves scored was on a solo home run by Ronald AcuƱa Jr. in the top of the fifth inning. It went a long way, and not only did he watch it, but he got an ear-full of boo’s from the New York fan base. Braves lead 1-0.

Will Smith came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Braves and to try and seal 1-0 Atlanta lead. He worked himself into a mess. He had bases loaded with one out. However, the Mets, once again, had some bad base running and got themselves out. It was almost like they were looking for ways to get out… that’s how bad it was. I’m not complaining however! It was great way for the Braves to preserve their 1-0 lead.

Game Three: Charlie Morton vs. Marcus Stroman, Braves won 3-0

It’s not every day that you shut out your division-leading rivals in back to back games… but the Atlanta Braves did it to the New York Mets!

Charlie Morton pitched very well for the Braves. He went seven innings, allowed one hit, two walks, and he had ELEVEN strikeouts. He threw 107 pitches, none of them were high-stress. He had total control over the Mets lineup, and it paid off great for the Braves in the end.

Atlanta scored all three of their runs with one swing of the bat in the top of the third. After Freddie Freeman flew out, Ozzie got on base with a one out single. Abraham Almonte followed him with a walk. Austin Riley made the second out on a groundout, but he advanced both runners to second and third. That brought Dansby Swanson up with two out, and runners in scoring position. On the first pitch he saw, Swanson hit the baseball out of the park for a three-run homer, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead.

That was all the Braves needed. The bullpen followed Morton with a good, clean outing securing the Braves victory.

Game Four: Kyle Wright vs. Tylor Megill, Braves lost 7-3

Kyle Wright, made his first start of the 2021 season, and it wasn’t pretty. He went two innings, gave up five hits, five runs, and three walks. He did have one strikeout, but it didn’t make much difference in his overall performance. With his early departure, that left a LOT of ground for the Braves bullpen to cover.

Atlanta scored three runs. Two came in the top of the fifth inning when Ender Inciarte hit a two-run homer. The other run they scored came in the top of the sixth inning on an RBI single by Ehire Adrianza that scored Austin Riley.

Pitching was the biggest problem for the Braves in this game. Wright started the game with bad pitching, and that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Player Production so Far This Spring Training

Even though Spring Training games don’t exactly count, they are none the less fun to watch and important. Spring training is a time for Minor Leaguers to show their stuff and try to make the roster, and for veterans to try and earn a spot on the bench. Spring Training is also super important for the everyday players to warm up their bats, sharpen up their defense, and face other teams’ pitchers.

As a manger, in this case Brian Snitker, you watch player production carefully to see which Minor Leaguers and Spring Training invitees are showing great skill and production. They also look at the shape that their everyday players are in and how well they are preforming during the spring.

The Braves have had a very impressive Spring Training so far this year. Their young players have really shown out in their talent, and the every day players have continued to be strong, reliable, and have proven their talent levels. Here are a few Braves players who have had a good Spring Training so far:

Ronald AcuƱa Jr.

This kid. His amount of talent continues to grow with every season. He has hit four home runs so far this spring…four! And they haven’t been cheap little line drive home runs either. Another thing is his strikeout rate hasn’t been as high as we normally see, which is encouraging. He has also gained more patience at the plate, not swinging at every pitch or getting an out after only seeing a couple of pitches at the plate. AcuƱa will be an exciting player again to watch this year, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the Braves in 2021!

Ozzie Albies

My man! Ozzie has continued to show his talented ability as a switch-hitter. He has improved from the left side of the plate, and continues to be great from the right side. Albies has hit two home runs this spring and has a .250 avg. so far this Spring Training. He was 1 for 2 yesterday with a single and a stolen base. We can’t forget to mention his defensive abilities. It surprises me greatly that Ozzie hasn’t won a Gold Glove in his career. (He should’ve won one in 2019.. but don’t get me started on that!). Albies has been and will continue to be a Gold Glove worthy, powerful switch-hitter in his career, and I cannot wait to see him play in 2021!

Marcell Ozuna

Like last year, Ozuna had a slow start to his Spring Training. However, his bat has started to come alive within the last few games. In 31 at-bats he has a .226 average, has six RBI’s, and has hit two home runs. In yesterday’s game against the Rays he was 2 for 3 with a home run. With the National League not having the DH this season, Ozuna will be the Braves left-fielder. His defensive skills aren’t the greatest, but he has worked on them this spring and has done a good job in left field. Obviously, given how he hit last year, he has a big time power bat. He will once again be such a bonus hitting cleanup behind Freddie Freeman in the lineup. He will be a fun one to watch for sure this season!

These are just three of the Braves players that have really shown up this Spring Training. Obviously Braves manager Brian Snitker isn’t worried about how well Ozzie, AcuƱa, and Ozuna have preformed this spring. He knows their abilities and that you can’t have your best stuff every single game.

One thing to point out is the empty spot on the bench. In my opinion the Braves are either going to add Jake Lamb or Jason Kipnis to the bench. Lamb is currently riding on a .188 average in 32 at-bats. He has hit one homer, has had 6 hits, and has five RBI’s. He has also struck out 11 times. Kipnis isn’t doing much better.. he has a .240 avg. in 25 at-bats with one home run, six hits, and three RBI’s. He has struck out 7 times.

Neither of their spring stats are eye-opening. They have both struck out a good number of times and have hit the same amount of home runs — one. It will be interesting to see who the Braves go with in the end…if they go with either of them! Like I said, they are just my two predictions for who will round out the Braves bench.

My 2021 Opening Day Starting Rotation Predictions

Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.com

Now that I have done a post on my lineup predictions for Opening Day, I thought I’d do one on my starting rotation predictions. With Mike Soroka’s return not yet known, he most likely won’t be pitching on Opening Day. Note that this rotation order doesn’t include Soroka given he is still on recovery.

Here is my projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Max Fried
  2. Ian Anderson
  3. Charlie Morton
  4. Kyle Wright
  5. Drew Smyly

Obviously, when Mike Soroka does return, he will be the Braves number one starter. Upon his return, one of those guys would have to leave the rotation and would only really be used as a backup pitcher, and most likely in the bullpen. Depending on how Spring Training goes, and his work on the mound during the beginning of the 2021 season, I think Kyle Wright will be the one guy who gets “kicked off” the rotation once Soroka returns. I have nothing against him, I just think, considering his experience level and his troubles in the majors, he will be replaced by Soroka. Or the Braves could do a six man rotation. That way he will still be in the starting rotation, and it would give the other guys an extra day’s rest.

Last season, after Soroka got hurt, it was hard to imagine the Braves being able to have such a strong rotation with him gone. But, Max Fried really stepped up and proved how good he is, and the younger guys did their part, too. Not to mention Ian Anderson who came on the scene and in his fist Major League appearance, got a win against the New York Yankees!

Braves vs Mets Series Wrap

This was a good series for the Braves. It was also the last time the Braves will see the Mets until mid September.

Game one: Sean Newcomb vs Rick Porcello

This game was the best come-from-behind win I’ve ever seen! Not to mention, it was by far the best Braves game of the 2020 season (so far). Starting off to a good start, the Braves took the lead 2-0 in the bottom of the first. However, the Mets weren’t going down easily. After the Mets scored two in the top of the fourth, and having a six-run inning in the top of the fifth, the score was 8-2. Braves scored three in the bottom of the fifth making it an 8-5 game, but things still didn’t look good for the Braves. To make things worse, the Mets scored two more in the top of the sixth maiking it a 10-6 game. Yet the Braves – being the relentless team that they are – scored one in the bottom of the sixth and didn’t stop there! Dansby started the rally in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single. Then Travis d’Arnaud, a new addition for the Braves, came to life with a bases-clearing double and took the game to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL giving the Braves the lead 11-10, with which they won the game with.

Game two: Touki Toussaint vs. Michael Wacha

What a game for Braves fans and Ronald AcuƱa Jr.! With the rotation being uncertain, Touki showed great promise that he could pitch in the starting rotation. He may not go as many innings as Max Fried, but he showed some promise in this game. Pitching four scoreless innings, only allowing three hits, he showed improvement from the 2019 season. The only thing he needs to control more is his walk-to-strikeout-ratio, striking out five and walking three is this start.

Now on to some offense… Ronald AcuƱa Jr, what a game he had! Starting off slow in the start of the delayed 2020 season with a .184 batting average and striking out a bunch, this was his breakout game. With a double and two RBIs his bat finally came alive. But to make it even better… he hit an absolute bomb to left center feel giving him his first home run of the season! He was all smiles as he celebrated with the cardboard fans above the dugout. The Braves won this game 7-1. Marcell Ozuna also hit a home run, becoming a key player in the Braves’ every day lineup.

Game three: Kyle Wright vs. David Peterson

The Braves’ rotation still showed struggles in this game. Only going 3.1 innings it was a rough outing for Wright. Not to mention he didn’t pitch a clean inning and walked four guys. But the Braves relief corps showed excellence on the mound. Tyler Matzek pitched very well. Throwing two scoreless innings- only giving up two hits- he showed that he could very well become an important part in the bullpen, perhaps even making it to the starting rotation. The Braves were very good offensively tonight as well. Scoring two runs in the third, one in the fourth on a home run by Johan Camargo, his first of the year, and one in the eighth, the Braves ended up shutting out the Mets 4-0. Giving them a winning streak of five games.

Game four: Mike Soroka vs. Jacob DeGrom

This game’s starting pitchers brought on a rematch from Opening Day. Mike Soroka was looking to win the game but sadly, in the top of the third inning, running off the mound to try to field the ball, Mike Soroka tripped falling off the mound and had to be helped off the field in pain. After the game we learned that Mike tore his right Achilles and will be out for the remainder of the season. Prayers are with you Mike! And if that didn’t set the tone of the game enough, Jacob DeGrom had total control of the mound striking out ten Braves which ultimately helped the Mets win 7-2.

This was a good series, with the Braves coming out on top. The Braves team and fans are devastated by Soroka’s injury, and we are now left wondering what this loss will do to our season. But, Mike Soroka is a young guy with a lot left in his career. Right now, we just hope the Braves can come back from this loss, creating a new pitching rotation that will carry us through the season.