Getting Hot & Getting Help

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Don’t look now, but the Braves have won five of their last six ballgames. In that span, they’ve outscored their opponents 30-26, and that’s with a loss in which the opponent scored 12 runs. Even better, those six games were against division foes; sweep of the Nationals & 2-1 series win against the Phillies. The Braves are currently 1.5 games behind the Mets for the division lead, & one game behind Philadelphia for second place.

This weekend was jam-packed with positive after positive. Sunday’s win wrapped up a series win against the Phillies. William Contreras, the replacement for d’Arnaud, had a breakout series. It was announced that reliever Shane Greene was returning to Atlanta, & only for $1.5 million ($1.1M-$1.2M pro-rated). It was reported Chris Martin is nearing a return, report specifically said that Martin was asked if he wanted another rehab appearance or to just be activated on Tuesday. Austin Riley extended his hot streak. And Freddie Freeman appears to have broken out of his season-starting slump.

Sometime in the next two months, the Braves will add, at minimum: Shane Greene, Chris Martin, Sean Newcomb, & Mike Soroka. It’s no secret that the bullpen has been a huge disappointment in 2021. Well, in Sunday’s win the bullpen hold the Phillies scoreless for multiple innings, just like they were expected to coming into the season. Then add Chris Martin, Shane Greene, & surprisingly Sean Newcomb. All of a sudden, that bullpen transitions from a weakness into a strength.

Mike Soroka will make his 2021 debut, barring setback, reportedly in June. Turning the rotation into: Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, Huascar Ynoa, & Mike Soroka. Yes, that means Drew Smyly will not remain in the rotation. He’s been a major disappointment for someone who’s making $11 million this year & was Alex Anthopoulos’ first Free Agent signing after 2020.

Then, we have the guys who’ve been playing all year, starting to perform like they haven’t all year. Freddie Freeman has found his stroke. He mashed multiple homeruns in the Phillies series, and one particular at-bat on Sunday really stood out to me that pointed toward a breakout. That was his at-bat that was almost 10 pitches long. He fought off multiple high quality fastballs, and even a curveball 6 inches off the plate in on his hands. Only to hit the trademark Freddie base knock. A basehit to left-center field, with an exit velocity over 100 mph.

Then we have Austin Riley. Riley was a popular choice among Braves Nation as this year’s breakout candidate. A choice that had all those people sweating until recently. In his last fifteen games, this is his stat line: 52 AB, 7 runs, 17 hits, 1 homerun, 4 RBI, 7 BB, .327 average, & .417 OBP.

In summation, the Braves have hung around the top of the division even as they were playing their worst baseball in half a decade. And they’re about to get reinforcements & improve in every facet of the game. Four-peat?

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