Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Is it Really That Simple?


Through the first 5 games of the season, the NL East picture is already relatively clear. There are currently four teams under .500, and there is the Atlanta Braves. Yes, it's early, and one of these teams had to PLAY the Braves this week...but it's a very intriguing sign as we head into a season that was supposed to be a two horse race.

The Braves getting the better of the Phillies during their series was...honestly going to happen. The Phils have a lot going for them, but rumors of the bullpen's mastery were greatly exaggerated, as the pen spoiled things in multiple games, just like they used to. It's not even as simple as 'the Phillies lost' in these cases: they're playing the Braves, and the Braves are still extremely good! YOU try pitching to Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Matt Olson or Michael Harris without something going horribly wrong. Even for a good team that has Zach Wheeler, Ranger Suarez and Cristopher Sanchez all pitching well, those guys are still gonna kill ya. You can see them begin to come into their own now that they're playing a more equal team in the Reds, but from the jump it's clear the Braves are better than them head-on.

And picking up from how last year was going, Ozzie Albies is still responsible for leading the charge in power, he's got 2 home runs already and 7 RBIs. Matt Olson's already got 4 RBIs and a home run, and though he's still got the high hopes of everyone who saw how much he hit out last year, I think he's gonna take a more gradual approach and space out those moments. Riley and Ozuna have also had nice power moments so far. Really, the only people who've been concerning so far are Max Fried and Aaron Bummer, aside from Sean Murphy, who'll be out for a bit. The Braves have the depth to withstand that, and getting people like Chris Sale and Pierce Johnson was wise in preventing against further setbacks.

You look around to the rest of the league and you don't see that mentality. The Nats lost Nick Senzel right at the start of the season, and had to rush Trey Lipscomb, who, at the very least is doing some things well, but it sort of goes against the strategy they'd agreed on. The Mets are already down Tylor Megill and aren't seeing great stuff from Luis Severino, meaning their next two options to start are Joey Lucchesi and Jose Butto. The Marlins are still waiting for positive production from most of their stars, including Jazz Chisholm, who has literally been complaining out of the gate, against former teammates, stadium roofs and everybody in between. The Phils sort of have depth options, but they may have also dinged up Bryce Harper on a leap into the dugout [not to worry, he can still apparently hit home runs].

The Braves have to feel great about themselves, and have a lot to keep working with as the season goes on. However, last season should tell them that no matter how much they dominate by in the regular season, it means nothing if the momentum doesn't carry over to October, and they need to figure out how to make that leap again this year. Or else one of these other guys who aren't starting well could outfox them.

Coming Tonight: It's nice to know this guy can be reliable once again, after so many injury-shortened years.

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