Atlanta‘s offensive struggles as a team are well-documented. The Braves are 27th out of 30 teams in the league in runs scored, 25th in total bases and 22nd in total hits. Atlanta has no chance of making a deep postseason run if the offense doesn’t begin to perform well, and it has shown no signs of doing so in recent games.
So, assuming the Atlanta offense continues to stall, the only way the team can begin to gain games on the Washington Nationals in the NL East is if it begins to pitch better, and that could begin with Tuesday night’s starter Alex Wood.
The Atlanta starters have already out-performed expectations in 2014, as Ervin Santana has emerged as a legitimate number two starter and Aaron Harang has been a pleasant surprise in the middle of the rotation. But Mike Minor has been absolutely horrible and Gavin Floyd is out for the season, giving the young lefty Wood a perfect opportunity to fill voids left and impress the organization moving forward.
The wheels came off of Wood’s Tuesday night start against Felix Hernandez and the Mariners in Seattle, but that was in large part due to poor defense behind the young starter. He allowed three unearned runs and topped the 100 pitch mark in the sixth inning, as his teammates gave him little opportunity to be successful. But that shouldn’t impact Wood’s performances going forward, as Atlanta really needs him to slot in behind Julio Teheran and Santana as a number three starter.
Granted, it won’t matter much if the Atlanta bats don’t heat up soon, but Wood has a legitimate opportunity to push the Braves into the playoffs. If the young lefty can string a few quality starts together and help get Atlanta rolling in the right direction, we could all be looking back to early August come playoff time, and attributing a large part of the Braves’ turnaround to Wood’s performance.