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MLB Atlanta Braves

5 Biggest Issues Facing Atlanta Braves In 2014 Stretch Run

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5 Biggest Issues Facing Atlanta Braves In 2014 Stretch Run

Fredi Gonzalez
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The Atlanta Braves are playing better lately; there's no doubt about that. Sadly, it might be too little too late for them to catch the Washington Nationals in the National League East, and the Wild Card race is completely up for grabs. If they plan to have a successful stretch run, the Braves have a few issues they will have to overcome. Here are the five biggest issues that they face in hopes to make the 2014 MLB postseason.

5. Streaky Play

Chris Johnson Atlanta Braves
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5. Streaky Play

Chris Johnson Atlanta Braves
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Some suggest this is the fault of Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. There is probably a great deal of truth to that, and not just because it is easy to blame the manager. Sure, this is a young team overall, but they should be able to come out and play more consistently. The fact that they do not is a reflection of their manager and a big issue to overcome.

4. Too Dependent on Home Runs and Too Many Strikeouts

Justin Upton Atlanta Braves
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4. Too Dependent on Home Runs and Too Many Strikeouts

Justin Upton Atlanta Braves
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This might seem like two different issues, but it really is one in the same. A team that tries to hit more home runs ends up striking out quite a bit more. That is actually okay if they hit home runs, but this team has not done that. They rank 15th in MLB in team home runs with 107, but only the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros have more team strikeouts. That certainly is an issue when facing great postseason pitching.

3. B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton Atlanta Braves
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3. B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton Atlanta Braves
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That really is all that needs to be said. Though he has tried and tried to get out of his contract-long slump, B.J. Upton just cannot seem to escape his contract-long slump. This is a bad reflection on the team GM Frank Wren, but the contract situation can be dealt with this offseason. On the field, they should consider giving the everyday center field job to Jason Heyward and making Upton more of a pinch runner. Something must be done.

2. Unable To Come From Behind

Alex Wood Atlanta Braves
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2. Unable To Come From Behind

Alex Wood Atlanta Braves
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They can't fight back when they are behind. Even if it's just by one or two runs, they just seem to quit. That is a reflection on the manager, but it must be fixed now if they plan to outlast the other Wild Card hopefuls. Last season the Braves had 11 walk-off wins and only six losses, while this season they have only four walk-off wins and nine such losses. No wonder Alex Wood has six losses in which he only gave up two or fewer earned runs.

1. No Bench

Ryan Doumit Atlanta Braves
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1. No Bench

Ryan Doumit Atlanta Braves
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When it comes to issues that have to be overcome, this is the worst of the bunch for the Braves. Their bench only has eight pinch-hit RBI for the season. I'll pause while you consider how horrible that number is. It is to the point that they should let the pitcher hit for himself even when taking him out. While their have been recent additions that should help this a little bit, Gonzalez has not used them well and is not getting a good result.