By Jacob Dennis on July 23, 2014
The Atlanta Braves have struggled as of late, falling to two games back of rival Washington Nationals in the National League East. The Braves have the potential to win the division, and when Atlanta is playing well, they're one of the most unbeatable teams in all of baseball. But Atlanta is really faltering right now, and the team can't afford to play poorly much longer. Here are five adjustments the Braves must make to make a playoff push.
The Atlanta Braves are a completely different baseball team when Freddie Freeman is hitting well in the middle of the lineup. The first baseman has the potential to terrorize opposing pitchers, but he's fallen on hard times lately. Freeman is in the midst of a 1-for-24 slide that spans back to July 13 against the Cubs, and he will need to turn it around quickly before Atlanta loses more ground in the NL East race.
The Braves never seem to be aggressive at the trade deadline, but it would really benefit the team to add a few pieces for the second half of the season. Atlanta has a solid bullpen, but it would be elevated to elite if the team managed to add a reliable arm for late in games. San Diego's Joaquin Benoit is currently being shopped around by the Padres, and he would potentially make a great eighth inning setup man for closer Craig Kimbrel.
Atlanta has struggled to score runs this season, as the Braves currently rank 27th in all of baseball in total runs scored (378). The Atlanta bats will inevitably go through hot and cold streaks, but the team can really help itself by being more aggressive when reaching base. BJ Upton and Jordan Schafer are base-stealing threats, and Jason Heyward also has some speed. Atlanta needs to be more aggressive to generate run-scoring opportunities.
As previously stated, Atlanta has had problems scoring runs. The starting rotation hasn't been great, but many of the team's minuscule errors would be covered up if the team managed to plate a few more runs. Atlanta is one of the streakiest teams in baseball, and when they're playing well the Braves are tough to beat. But if Atlanta is going to win the NL East, the team must figure out how to stay consistently good in the second half.
Realistically, the Braves don't have much of a chance in a playoff series against a quality opponent with the team's current rotation. Julio Teheran is elite, but there is a severe drop-off in performance after the ace. It has been rumored that David Price would love to play for Atlanta, and adding a player of that quality would make a world of difference for Atlanta. Regardless, the team really needs to add another starter before the deadline.
Jacob Dennis is a writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on Google.
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