A Look Into the Braves 2023 Season:

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.

Rule Changes:

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.

Always and forever, GO BRAVES!!

With Swanson Gone, Who Will be the Braves’ Next Shortstop?

While the news of Dansby leaving the Braves was disappointing, it wasn’t all that surprising. The longer the question of “Will Dansby re-sign?” was up in the air, the more it seemed that the answer would inevitably be no. Now that the issue is settled and Dansby has signed with the Cubs, Braves Country must move on. We survived losing Freddie, and we’ll survive losing Dansby.

So…who will be the Braves’ new shortstop?

I think, as of where the Atlanta Braves are at right now, Vaughn Grissom is the most logical choice for our new SS. Grissom showed potential while filling in at second base for Ozzie Albies while he was hurt last season, and his position in the minors was shortstop so that will definitely help him in this position for the 2023 season. He has also been working with third base coach Ron Washington this offseason which tells me that the Braves are planning on making him their shortstop.

It will definitely be different to see someone else at shortstop who isn’t Dansby Swanson, but at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, this is how the game of baseball works. Dansby made the decision that makes the most sense for him and where he’s at in life — and Atlanta fans must move on.

Regardless of who’s at shortstop, I believe in the Atlanta Braves team. I’m looking forward to the 2023 season for the Braves, and I can’t wait to see what kind of excitement is in store for them!

Always and forever, GO BRAVES!!

Will Swanson Remain an Atlanta Brave???

With each passing day, this becomes a more pressing question. No one wants to see Swanson go, and I don’t think Swanson wants to leave either. Honestly, it just comes down to money and the length of the contract. I don’t see Dansby Swanson as a greedy person, but after what happened with Freddie, and everyone saying that he wasn’t a greedy person, makes me a little more apprehensive regarding Dansby. Not to mention he and Freddie have, or had, the same agent. (Freeman fired his agent in the middle of the 2022 season.)

There hasn’t been a lot of talk regarding Dansby Swanson, but one thing that the Braves organization does well is keeping their movements out of the public eye until something is finalized. They don’t ride (or start) the rumor train.

Coming into the 2022-2023 offseason, there were four big-name FA shortstops on the market: Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts. Turner and Bogaerts have both signed long term deals with the Phillies and the Padres, respectively. That leaves Swanson and Correa as the only big-name shortstops on the market, and there are multiple teams in need of one. That just makes the situation with Dansby more nerve-wracking because some teams (like the Dodgers) could pay big money for him. He will have the ultimate decision of remaining a Brave or seeking out a fat paycheck.

The Winter Meetings are now over, and while there were some big deals made… none of them were made by Braves GM, Alex Anthopoulos. This came as a little bit of a surprise. While Anthopoulos is never big into the rumors or openly discussed deals, he has been known to make some jaw-dropping deals at the Trade Deadline and the Winter Meetings. However, that did not happen this year.

One of my hypotheses as to why they haven’t made Dansby an offer is because he is getting married this Saturday, and Anthopoulos, being one of Dansby’s good friends, is invited to the wedding. They might not want any tensions regarding him hypothetically not being signed during that time. Yes, I know, this idea may seem far-fetched…however, I’m not really sure what else it could be. Unless they really just haven’t made him an offer, OR they did make Swanson an offer that he refused and they’re keeping it under wraps.

This is a tough situation to navigate. All I know is I wouldn’t want to be in Alex Anthopoulos’ shoes. No one wants to see Georgia-grown, Dansby Swanson leave Braves Country. But at the end of the day, it typically comes down to money. How much are the Atlanta Braves are willing to spend, and how much is Swanson potentially willing to give up when push comes to shove? I guess we will just have to wait and see how things play out- hopefully in the Braves’ favor.

Forever and always – GO BRAVES!

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!

What I Think the Braves Should do This Offseason:

Now that the offseason has officially begun, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2023 season. The Atlanta Braves locked in three players this season: Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, and Spencer Strider. They Braves have almost all of their everyday players locked up. In fact, only shortstop and whoever is going to play left field are not locked up for the Braves. Obviously, The Atlanta Braves’ front office, the Braves team, and ALL of Braves country want to see Dansby Swanson at shortstop for the Braves for many years to come. He is a Georgia native and all things Atlanta sports. He has made such an impact for the Braves and over the last two seasons. We have really gotten to see the power he has and the top-quality defense he gives every single day. No one wants to see him go, but it’s all a matter of if he really wants to stay in Atlanta like he says he does, or if he wants to go where the money is. Hopefully Dansby won’t be another Freddie, but they had the same agent (Freeman fired his earlier this year). Dansby is obviously the biggest goal this offseason, and it’s my hope that the Braves would go after him first.

Along with Dansby Swanson, Adam Duvall, Robbie Grossman, Kenley Jansen, Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day, Jesse Chavez, and Ehire Adrianza are Free Agents. I would be surprised if the Braves re-signed Grossman, O’Day, or Adrianza. O’Day did not have a great year on the mound, Adrianza didn’t play much other than a couple games when both Ozzie Albies and Orlando Arcia were hurt before they called Grissom up, and although Robbie Grossman came through in quite a few situations in the 2022 season, I don’t see him coming back over Adam Duvall.

The Braves need a closer, but they need a reliable one. Jansen had his ups and downs this year, but he came though when the Braves needed him the most. I think the Braves will make him an offer, but I don’t know if he’ll take it or not. Luke Jackson did not play this season due to Tommy John surgery. However, in 2020-2021 he showed skill off the pitching mound. With his slider and his fastball, he was able to get batters out and get out of troublesome innings. I can possibly see the Braves using him as a closer, but I think Atlanta will try and find someone who has more closer credentials. The Braves could sign him to add more depth to the bullpen, but there’s no guarantee what he’s going to be like after surgery. Jesse Chavez has become a fan-favorite. He has been traded ten times in his career, and has been a Brave off and on for 2 1/2 seasons. Chavez has come through for the Braves, and like Jackson, I could see the Braves signing him to a 1-2 year deal to add depth to the bullpen.

In the end, we will have to wait and see what moves the Braves make. I think I speak on behalf of all Braves country when I say that we don’t want to see Dansby Swanson in another uniform. He has become the face of the Braves this year and has proven just how good of a player he is, and everyone wants him to be a Brave for a long long time.

GO BRAVES!

My Thoughts on the Braves Loss in the NLDS Against Phillies:

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!

GO BRAVES!

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!!

THE ATLANTA BRAVES CLINCH THE NL EAST FOR THE FIFTH STRAIGHT YEAR!!

Fireworks from Truist park during the Braves vs. Mets series

Last night, October 4, 2022, the Atlanta Braves won their fifth straight National League East Division title in a 2-1 victory against the Miami Marlins. Being the World Series Champions last year, the Braves had a lot to prove this year, and they have definitely done that to this point.

The season started off slow once again for the Braves, and they hung right around .500 for a long time. But then, on June first, things turned around, and Atlanta hasn’t looked back since. Coming into the month of June, the Braves were 10.5 games out of first place. And starting the month of August, they were 7.0 games out of first. Then, from late August all the way through to where they are now, the Atlanta Braves got HOT. The Braves’ starting rotation was becoming secure and strong, the bullpen was reliable, and the offense was scoring runs consistently and often. All of that made the Met’s 10.5 game lead in the Division a thing of the past — and the Braves just kept pouring it on.

Yes, this title didn’t come easy for the Braves, but that’s what makes it so awesome. The New York Mets put up a good fight this year, staying in first place for almost all of the season. However, when it came down to the games that mattered the most, the Atlanta Braves always found a way to win. That proved crucial in their last home series of the season against the Mets over the weekend when the Braves swept the Mets; taking not only a 2.0 game lead in this Division, but also a winning record of head-to-head games against the Mets.

The Division is won, but now it’s time for some Postseason baseball! The Wild Card games start Friday, October 7th, and the NLDS will begin Tuesday October 11th. Since the Braves won the Division and won’t have to play in the Wild Card Series, this gives them a week’s worth of rest. This also gives Spencer Strider a week longer to heal so he can come back and pitch for Atlanta in the NLDS, and it gives Ozzie Albies an extra week to continue to heal from a fractured finger so he can make a potential return during the Postseason.

The Braves need to work on not leaving so many men on base, playing some small ball to go with their home run game, and honing in on starting pitchers making it through 5+ innings.

This is a very exciting time for the Atlanta Braves and all of Braves Country…but the battle isn’t over yet. If anything, it’s just getting started. Yet we can still shout: THE EAST IS OURS!

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. 🙂

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. 😉

GO BRAVES!!