The Atlanta Braves finished the month of April with a 17-9 record and 4.5 game lead over the Washington Nationals in the National League East. Considering the Braves played 16 games on the road, they should be thrilled with the start. Here’s what lies ahead for the team in the month of May.
Splits: 14 home games, 15 road games
Series to Watch: May 13-15 at the Diamondbacks
The Braves’ 2013 schedule looked front-loaded in 2013, and May will be another tough test for the Braves. The Braves will play more road games than home games for the second consecutive month, and the combined record of their opponents is 102-108.
Despite the losing record, the Braves will face 2012 division winners in the Nationals, Reds and Giants as well as talented teams in the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays.
The toughest run will be May 6-15 when the Braves play 10 straight road games against the Reds, Giants and Diamondbacks. All three currently have a winning record and will come at the end of 20 straight days without an off day for the Braves. The Braves will have to fight physically and mentally on this road trip.
The Diamondbacks series in Arizona will be one to tune into. Justin Upton and Chris Johnson will return to Arizona for the first time, and the Braves will be reacquainted with former teammate Martin Prado. On the field, this should be a close series with two top-five starting rotations squaring off.
Perhaps the oddest series of the season comes in this month when the Braves play a four-game series with the Blue Jays. The first two will be played in Toronto while the last two will be played in Atlanta. I can’t remember a series being played in two different cities over the course of four days.
The most important games are arguably the divisional games. The Braves have nine of those, three with the Nationals and six with the Mets. They finish up their four-game series on Wednesday and Thursday with the Nationals and begin another three-game series at home against the Nationals the last day of May. In between, they play the Mets once in Atlanta and once in New York.
May will prove to be tough for the Braves. The good news is that catcher Brian McCann should return in time for that tough 10-game stretch. The bad news is starting outfielder Jason Heyward may not return til the end of the month. It won’t be easy, but the Braves should be happy if they match their output in April of winning 17 games. On average, they would have won or split each series.