Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Ender of the First Half
The theme throughout the NL East has been the dominance of teams that had been waiting a while to be this good. Right now, the Braves are a solid 50-40, in second place...despite being in first for most of the season. They're had a rough week or so, and they've been lapped by a team that...I should be getting excited about, but will save said excitement for when I'm not talking about the Braves. And yet they've not been deterred.
This is a team where even Ender Inciarte, whose achievements have been dwarfed by the other two members of the outfield, career-high Nick Markakis and rookie phenom Ronald Acuna, is still able to have fantastic moments in games. This is a team where Johan Camargo, whose come-up was delayed by a breathtaking, but short-lived, start by Ryan Flaherty, can hold down a team even with Freddie Freeman at the helm. This is a team where Anibal Sanchez can still throw strikes even if this is Mike Foltynewicz' year. This is a team that's flexible, durable, and can get by even through setbacks.
And to be honest, in Atlanta there haven't been a ton of setbacks. The only real injuries have happened to people like Brandon McCarthy and Mike Soroka, rotation arms that are capable of being replaced (as Luiz Gohara can certainly start a game or two). Everyone else has stayed healthy and good, and nobody's doing truly terribly here. Yes, Julio Teheran's velocity has gone down since 2016, but we're not at a point where he's the only feasible option.
Down the stretch, the Braves will need to look out for less-consistent, but lucky, teams like the Nationals and, yes, the Philadelphia Phillies, whose ascension to first has been thanks in part to rookie sensation Enyel de los Santos and his copious strikeouts. As we've seen in Washington since 2012, being really good and being really lucky are different things, and the Braves may need to work on tightening some areas of the team if they'd like to win some October matches.
Coming Tomorrow- Three years ago he was helping a team win the World Series. Now...uhm, at least he's playing better offensive ball?