By David Miller @DavidMillerRant on August 24, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 28, 2014 by John Shea
The San Francisco Giants need Matt Cain to rekindle past success if they're going to contend for the NL West title in 2015. Read More
December 28, 2014 by Andrew Lenz
Find out why the Pittsburgh Pirates should start Cervelli over Chris Stewart and Tony Sanchez. Read More
December 28, 2014 by Pete Schwichtenberg
Despite recent rumors, the Milwaukee Brewers should not trade for Nick Swisher. Read More
December 28, 2014 by Justin Broyles
The Pittsburgh Pirates have one of the top closers in all of baseball, but they should look to trade Mark Melancon for a king's ransom. Read More
The Toronto Blue Jays' lineup is stacked everywhere but at second base. If they can bring in Takashi Toritani, they will be loaded from top to bottom. Read More
December 28, 2014 by Brad Faber
Find out why the Detroit Tigers need another good season from 2B Ian Kinsler In 2015. Read More
December 28, 2014 by Owen Gabbey
The Houston Astros' farm system is absolutely loaded with talent. Here are five pitching prospects who could make an impact in 2015. Read More
December 27, 2014 by Pete Schwichtenberg
The Minnesota Twins have made major upgrades to the rotation this offseason, but the future of the team will be on these top five pitching prospects. Read More
December 27, 2014 by Owen Gabbey
The Miami Marlins are stacked with young talent and developing players. Here are some of their best young arms heading into 2015. Read More
The New York Yankees are always looking for an upgrade on the mound. Here is a look at their top five pitching prospects heading into 2015. Read More
December 27, 2014 by Jacob Kornhauser
Starlin Castro was detained about his involvement in a shooting, and after suggestions that he may be getting targeted, it's time he spends most of his time in the states. Read More
December 27, 2014 by Drew Jenkins
The Washington Nationals have a solid group of pitching prospects, and here is how they stack up heading into 2015. Read More