The 2014 season did not start in a promising way for the Atlanta Braves. They lost key pitchers in Spring Training and really couldn’t have been given much of a chance to dominate the year like they did in 2013. That they did so well for so long is a testament to the guys on the team overachieving in some ways and carrying way too much weight in other instances. Let us face facts, though. The Braves do not currently have a team that can make and succeed in the MLB postseason.
If you look around at the teams in the lead in the six divisions, you see a few constant things. First of all there is a reliable few in the starting rotation. Secondly you’ll find a good bullpen from start to end, not just good enough for the last two innings. There is usually an ability to come from behind and fight it out when they are losing and almost always you’ll see at least a couple of great bench players that play key roles.
Look closely at the Braves and you’ll see why they are fading. They have no bench to speak of until Andrelton Simmons comes back and even then it will only be one player Emilio Bonifacio. Even he will sometimes start which will again leave nobody on the bench. Except for when he is not starting, there is no Evan Gattis like, fearsome pinch hitter for this team at all.
Their rotation has been great at times but inconsistent at times as well. Mike Minor has been terrible and is badly needed to be great. Even that wouldn’t be enough however. The starters have to pitch into the eighth inning right now with a lead to have a good chance to win the game. Anytime there is a close game that the starter comes out of in the sixth or seventh inning, you can bet the Braves have a great chance to lose.
They do not have a left-handed specialist because the one they went and got from the Chicago Cubs is not now, nor has he ever really been great against lefties. Shockingly, he continues to give up hits to lefties, just like has all year. It is not his fault however. The Braves should stop trying to turn him into something he is not.
Lastly, they have nothing in the way of a reliable long man in case the game goes into extra innings. Watch a game go into the 11th inning or later and just wait for David Hale to give up a run while the other team’s long specialist takes the ball for three up and three down innings all night long. Face it, everyone. The Braves have been good and they will continue to be good — but not good enough unless they make a few key changes to this team.