Monday, May 20, 2024

Not Quite as Forecast


The Philadelphia Phillies hitting first place isn't the surprising part of recent NL East developments. The surprising part is that the Atlanta Braves let them.

The Braves, despite a 26-15 record, a guy with 41 RBIs in May and two great pitchers that were essentially flyer picks, don't feel entirely like themselves this year. The biggest difference is the lack of consistent production from Ronald Acuna Jr., after the best season of his career. So far he's hitting .247 with 11 RBIs, 3 homers and 14 stolen bases. Nowhere near 30-70. I don't know if there's anything that's directly contributed to it, but he's just not as good as he was last year. And that's the case with a lot of these guys. Bryce Elder, Orlando Arcia, Ozzie Albies, even Austin Riley, who's only hitting .245 with 18 RBIs and 3 homers. Even Matt Olson's only hit 5 homers so far. Really, the only hitter who feels like his 2023 self right now is Marcell Ozuna, who's got 12 homers. 

And that's the thing. So many people on this team are just playing 'alright' that there isn't really much the Braves can really show for these days. Occasionally something cool happens, but it's with somebody like Travis d'Arnaud or Reynaldo Lopez. Hell, pretty much the only time I've heard someone talk about the Braves in the last week or so has been the backup catcher, Chadwick Tromp, changing his number to 45 and going 'oh, is there some sort of American cultural significance to 'Tromp 45'? Tell me, the naive Aruban, exactly what you all have been up to lately.' And meanwhile they get fleeced by a better team by the Dodgers or Cubs or something. 

At the very least the pitching hasn't exactly been letting this team down, as Chris Sale, Max Fried, Raisel Iglesias, Charlie Morton and, yes, Jesse Chavez somehow, have all been really reliable for this team. Sale's having the comeback year he's deserved for years, he's 6-1 with a 2.54 ERA and 61 Ks. Hopefully this doesn't cause somebody to overpay for him next year but...I mean, you know how it goes. Somehow losing Spencer Strider hasn't put this team at too much of a disadvantage.

But, y'know...they're still 4 games behind the Phils, and the Phils don't seem to be letting up anytime soon. The Braves have to play the Padres, who are relatively hot, and the Cubs, who already had fun with them this week, in the coming days. The Phillies, meanwhile, have to play the Rockies in a bit, despite also hosting the Rangers for a bit. Even if the Phillies lose some ground, the odds aren't exactly in the favor of Atlanta right now, and hopefully they'll find their footing as the season goes on.

Coming Tonight- A man on a mission, who just completed a revenge start against his old team. 

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