What is Wrong With the Braves?

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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As of today, 25APR2021, the Braves are tied for fourth place in the National League East with the Miami Marlins with a record of 9-12 (.429 win percentage). Twenty-one games into the Twenty-One season, the Braves are playing the worst regular season baseball they’ve played in four years, & they’re still only two games out of the division lead.

I tell you all that, the proverbial “bright side”, to balance out what you’re going to read the further down you read. With all the issues & hardships of the season, the Braves are no further out of this season than if they would’ve been swept in the opening series….wait, that happened. Doesn’t matter; record-wise, they’re fine.

So now, the doom & gloom…

The Offense is Non-Existent

Minus a couple games here & there, everyone without a tilde in their name who uses a bat as part of their primary means of making money, have not earned their money.

Acuña, Riley, & Freddie are the only regulars with a batting average north of .200. Acuña & Freddie are the only two guys with at least one stolen base. Acuña is the only Brave with an on-base percentage higher than .400. Acuña’s slugging .786, the next highest is Freddie with a .438. Meanwhile, eight Braves have double-digit strikeouts, Acuña included.

Huascar Ynoa is the Ace

Now Huascar Ynoa pitching like an ace is not a problem, if that’s just a standalone statement. But baseball is not a standalone sport.

It’s made up of staffs, lineups, & defensive positions groups (middle infielders, corner infielders, corner outfielders, outfielders & infielders in general).

When Huascar Ynoa is pitching like the ace of the Braves staff that includes: Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Charlie Morton, Mike Soroka (who’s hurt obviously), & even Drew Smyly; that’s a problem. Three of those guys have, at one time in their respective careers, been staff aces; & Smyly is a veteran who knows his way around a big league lineup.

Huascar is leading the Braves in WHIP with a 0.86 & Batting Average Against with a .188.

The Bullpen is Shaky, At Best

Throughout the Braves NL East Three-Peat, the bullpen has been the strongest part of the team. Even with the Braves lineup being so potent last season, the bullpen was better. There was an arm for every situation. It was effective, deep, & seemingly always on their “A game”. This year, not so much. Outside of Josh Tomlin & Luke Jackson, the bullpen has taken a step back. Minter & Matzek have been pretty good as well, just not at the level of Josh & Luke.

Something interesting about this bullpen though, they have five of the nine wins this season. After a year of being a victim of rotation purgatory that forced Snitker to depend heavily on the bullpen, and the front office addressing rotation depth by signing Smyly & Morton, the rotation isn’t pitching well enough & deep enough to win or take the load off the bullpen.

In summation, even with as poorly as the team has been this season, they’re only two games out of first & only one of the three major “problem areas” appears to have no path to improvement.

That area is the bullpen. The bullpen needs help from the outside. Right off the bat: Biddle, Dayton, & Jones need to go. Carl Edwards Jr is a right-handed guy that at least deserves a look in the Majors this year prior to the trade deadline. You can throw out Shane Greene’s name all you want, but nobody really knows how soon he’d be ready if the Braves did sign him. Alex Anthopoulos & the front office are going to have to look for guys currently sitting in a non-NL East bullpen right now, that could help the Braves at least three batters at a time.

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