Friday, May 31, 2019
Braves Update: Inches from Greatness Edition
In baseball, logic doesn't always translate.
You can get a team like the Phillies who have some bullpen flaws, one or two guys who aren't hitting, and a domestic abuser whose likeness is on collectible pins sold in the gift shop (I have one), but still get to be in first place.
And then you get a team like the Braves. Who are playing BEAUTIFULLY right now. They have the best lineup in baseball (nobody's hitting below .250), a bench full of successful hitters, a relatively solid rotation and two of the best young players in baseball, Ronald Acuna and Austin Riley. And they're stuck at second.
This is better than the early 2010's 'stuck at third' days, but...not by much.
So what is dooming this team? In a word...bullpen. Which, after being relatively clean in 2018, is now a disastrous mess of revolving heads and untested youth. Jacob Webb seems to be doing well as a reliever, and Luke Jackson is an okay closer, but...that's all the good news. Everyone else has an inflated ERA, injuries, or...like, is a starter who isn't starting and is miffed about it. There's not a lot of positive progress, and it's costing games. It's like the 2018 Indians: they shouldn't have to worry about a bullpen roadblock like this, but...here it is.
There's enough optimism with this team, because...I mean, Freddie Freeman is on, which means the team must be, but...I'm a little worried. If a Braves team with one singular flaw can't catch a Phillies team with many flaws, will they be able to catch them once they fix the bullpen?
Coming Tonight: Rather surprising talent coming from a bland team and a relatively uninteresting, made-up sounding name.