Let’s call it July 4th

Posted: July 4, 2018 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, sports, Sports Time Radio, Uncategorized

I’ll be the first one to admit that I wasn’t buying the Atlanta Braves at the start of this season, but now that’s it July and they’ve found a way to stay atop the National League East I think I have to start looking at them as a serious playoff contender.

Atlanta currently has a 2 1/2 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies and a 7 game lead over the team I thought would run away with the division the Washington Nationals.

The Braves four game winning streak did come to an end last night as they lost 8-5 to the New York Yankees. The Phillies where able to pick up a little ground as they beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 for their third win in a row, but the Nationals dropped their fourth game in a row 11-4 to the Boston Red Sox.

The Braves decided to start their rebuild after the 2014 season and they’ve made the fastest progress out of any of the teams that have torn down and rebuilt in the recent future, but are the Braves in position to win a World Series?

There where a few questions about the Braves offense coming into the season, but they have pretty much been answered. Ozzie Albies did go through a little slump, but all players do that. He is currently the team leader in home runs with 18. Ronald Acuna Jr. just returned from an injury that kept him out about a month. He is 7 for 22 with 2 home runs since returning from his injury. Nick Markakis has always been thought f as a solid hitter and this season he’s hitting .326 with 10 home runs and a team high 58 RBI’s. Of course you can’t forget Freddie Freeman who’s hitting .309 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI’s.

There are a few questions on offense though. The Braves have been using a the veteran combination of Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers behind the plate. It seems to be working out so far, but there will always be questions thee. Dansby Swanson has been playing better than he did last season when he actually ended up back in Triple-A, but he’s still hitting just .246. The biggest question the Braves have is at 3rd base. Ryan Flaherty got off to a hot start, but has cooled down. Charlie Culberson has also had some moments this season, but has never been an everyday player, The Braves even took a look at Jose Bautista at 3rd base for a short period of time. Now it’s Johan Carmago who’s being given a chance to be the everyday guy there. Carmago took over at shortstop last season when Swanson was sent own and hit .299, but this season in 62 games Carmago is hitting .259.

Will the Braves try to upgrade at 3rd base?

Atlanta does have 20 year old Austin Riley in Triple-A, but he is currently on the 7-day disabled list. Riley sprained the posterior crucial ligament in his knee diving for a foul ball; so ay chance of him being the guy at 3rd base will probably have to wait until the 2019 season.

The Braves do have a strong farm system and could use some of those payers to upgrade at 3rd base if that’s the position they decided to go after. It is possible that the Braves add a pitcher instead of an offensive player.

Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb have shown they can pitch at the major league level. Julio Tehran does have an ERA of 4.21 this season, but has a resume that shows he’s a quality starting pitcher. After that there are some questions in the Braves rotation. Veterans Brandon McCarty and Anibal Sanchez have been filling out the starting rotation, but McCarthy is currently on the disabled list with right knee tendinitis. Sanchez has been a pleasant surprise going 3-2 with an ERA of 2.89 in 10 games; 9 of which have been starts. McCarthy is 6-3 in 15 starts, but has an ERA of 4.92 and has a history of injuries.

The Braves have tried some of their young starters at the back of the rotation with varying success. Matt Wisler, Luiz Gohara, Mike Soroka and Max Fried have all made starts for Atlanta this season. It looked as though Soroka was going to be the guy who held down a rotation spot, but he landed on the 60-day disabled list with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Fried now looks like the guy who could find a spot in the rotation. Fried has pitched in 6 games this season with the last 2 being starts. On the season he is 1-2 with an ERA of 2.55. In his 2 starts Fried has thrown 11 2/3rd innings giving up 1 earned run while walking 7 and striking out 17.

Do you see the Braves adding a starter?

Arodys Vizcaino has been a solid closer for Atlanta this season; he’s appeared in 30 games this season and is 2-2 with an ERA of 1.82 while converting 15 of his 17 saves chances. Vizcaino hasn’t pitched since June 17th as he was just activated off the disabled list yesterday. The Braves have some young set up men in front of Vizcaino that have had some success. A.J. Minter has pitched in 39 games and has a 2.75 ERA. Dan Winkler has appeared in 37 games and has an ERA of 2.34. Jesse Biddle has pitched in 26 games and has an ERA of 2.59 while Shane Carle has appeared in 35 games and has an ERA of 2.93. They’ve all done the job for the Braves out of the bullpen, but they’re still young pitchers. Minter is 24 years old, Biddle and Carle are both 26 years old with Winkler being the oldest of the group at 28 years old.

Do you see the Braves adding a bullpen piece?

If the Braves do decide to make a move or two there are going to be plenty of players available and with the Braves farm system they shouldn’t have any problem finding teams interested in dealing with them.

It’s difficult to get to this spot in baseball and there’s not guarantee that a team can get back. Atlanta has done a nice job of rebuilding their franchise and have managed to find themselves in contention earlier than I think they even though they would be. Do the Braves need to go for it? and move a top prospect or two to fill one of the needs they currently have? Or should they sit tight with their young players and continue to develop them?

You can listen to the Sports Tie Radio podcast live on BlogTalkRadio.com, but don’t forget that the podcast is available for you to listen to any time you want at TuneIn.com.

Don’t forget to look me up on Twitter @Burketime


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