The Atlanta Braves won their 12th straight game on Tuesday night against the Washington Nationals. Sitting 14.5 games in front of the second place Nationals in the NL East, the Braves seem capable of walking the finish line to make the playoffs this season…barring another catastrophic collapse. This whole winning a lot of games thing is nothing new for this Braves team, after all, they started the season off by going 12-1.
However, the team with the best record in baseball entering play on Wednesday hasn’t been as productive as it could have been.
Atlanta’s pitching hasn’t been a problem this season. The Braves starting pitchers have been solid, currently ranking 6th in MLB in ERA (3.64) and 8th in WHIP (1.23). The club’s depth, with Alex Wood and Brandon Beachy stepping in with injuries to Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm, will continue to have value as the season goes on, as Julio Teheran may reach an innings limit this season. The bullpen is 1st in ERA (2.41) and WHIP (1.12), thanks to Craig Kimbrel, Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden, and David Carpenter being lights out.
The offense…wow…who would have thought the club would have won all of these games with the offense performing the way that it has in the 2013 season? Sure, the Braves rank 15th in average (.253), 8th in on-base percentage (.326), and 9th in slugging percentage (.412), but that is with Justin Upton hitting just four home runs from May 1 through July 31, Dan Uggla hitting .193, B.J. Upton hitting .188, and Jason Heyward hitting just .234 (including just .220 on July 27). Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson, who was sharing the third base job with Juan Francisco at the beginning of the season, have been the only year-long contributors, while Brian McCann has done a stellar job since returning from injury, as well. The Braves have had some punch from Evan Gattis and surprising pop out of Andrelton Simmons, but, given the struggles of their offensive superstars, at least the people who were supposed to make huge contributions this season, it is shocking that they are where they are today.
Since the All-Star break, Atlanta is 3rd in average (.269), 2nd in home runs (23), and 1st in runs scored (99). B.J. Upton has returned from a recent DL-stint and the club is firing on all cylinders. For a team that, mind-numbingly, won 11 consecutive NL East titles from 1995-2005, the tradition of winning in nothing new in Atlanta; however, with Chipper Jones gone, the new core of talent could very well lead the team in the same direction. With 12 games against Washington, Miami, Philadelphia, and the New York Mets ahead of them, the Braves could make the division into an embarrassment.
- Braves win 12th straight despite Harper HR (scores.espn.go.com)
- MLB: Atlanta 2, Washington 1 (upi.com)
- Resilient Braves are built for run to October (mlb.mlb.com)