What a difference ten games can make. Ten games ago the Atlanta Braves were riding a ten game winning streak and were on top of the baseball world. Today marks the tenth game of a very tough road trip and they are barely on top of the National League East. During the past ten game stretch it seems a lot has changed and they might not be considered the best team in Major League Baseball anymore. Certainly they are not playing as that right now. But how much has really changed?
After the winning streak ended at the hands of the Kansas City Royals I wrote an article entitled: Atlanta Braves Finally Rid Themselves of Pesky Winning Streak. Give it a look if you get time. A lot has changed in the ten games since.
Back then the Braves were still masking the struggling parts of their offense with great pitching and lots of homeruns. This ten game road trip has seen fewer homers and the pitching has faltered a little bit as well. The result is a powerful offense that has too many struggling bats to score runs in bunches. The only guys really hitting consistently are Freddie Freeman and MLB homerun leader Justin Upton.
Also at the time of that article Evan Gattis was riding a high in his first month of MLB play. Gattis is still showing himself worthy of being a major league catcher but the pitchers have caught up to him a little bit. It should be said that while Gattis has impressed greatly, Brian McCann being back in a week or two will be a welcome sight for the struggling offense.
There was still a platoon at third base back then. One positive thing since then is the emergence of Chris Johnson, National League leader in hitting, as the everyday third baseman. I hate that Freeman had to go down for a couple of weeks but this will be a good thing going forward. So what of the Braves team that exists today? How good or bad are they?
Sometimes we focus too much on what is happening right now and cannot see the whole picture clearly. The Braves no longer have the best record in MLB. They no longer have a 4 or more game lead in the division. But only the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers have better records and not by much. They still have the best record in the National League going into Sunday night’s game. They are still a good offensive team that is simply struggling right now.
I said in that old article that they might as well have gotten that pesky winning streak out of the way because they certainly wouldn’t win the next ten games in a row. Part of the reason for that statement was the tough teams on the road trip but another part was the road trip itself. Today’s game will be the 16th out of 18 played on the road. I don’t care how good you are, almost three weeks away from home will mess some things up.
Currently the Braves are 3 – 6 on the road trip. If they can pull off a win tonight and go home with a 4 – 6 trip to face the Washington Nationals at home, I would think that would make them as happy as they could be under the circumstances.