Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Their Truist Selves


Something is missing in this Braves team. I don't just mean the lack of Ronald Acuna, Spencer Strider and now Michael Harris. It just feels like the central core of this team matters less than it ever has.

I think about it this way. The Braves developed this team around Acuna, with Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Sean Murphy and Marcell Ozuna forming around them, and developed these young pitchers like Max Fried, Strider, Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder to inherit the team once Charlie Morton left. And right now the people doing the most for the Braves have been the afterthought guys. Reynaldo Lopez is still the team's best pitcher, he's got a 1.69 ERA and 70 Ks. Marcell Ozuna is responsible for the most offensive production of anybody, he has 20 homers and 63 RBIs. People like Chris Sale, Jesse Chavez and Travis d'Arnaud have had major hero moments for this team. And the core is...kinda there? Doing their best? But they're not the main event, like how Judge is in New York or Harper is in Philly or Ohtani and Betts are in LA. 

Like...Albies is hitting .260 this year. Arcia's hitting .220. Riley's hitting .240, and is lucky his defense is great. Murphy's juuust heating up again after struggling with injuries. Elder's tanked this year. It's really just Max Fried who's actually been performing to his potential. Everybody else is kinda letting the reinforcements take the lead, and...that only works to a certain degree. Like yes, it's nice the Braves are getting vintage Chris Sale this year, or it's nice that Marcell Ozuna's hit enough long balls to make everybody forget about the domestic abuse charges, but this team looked so complete last year. And now they're just sorta...hoping they pull through, I guess.

I also look at their approach to the ninth inning vs. the last few years. Cause they've layered relief options on top of each other, and made sure there were enough reinforcements barring catastrophe. The 2021 run had Mark Melancon, Will Smith and eventually Chris Martin and Richard Rodriguez. And then as people left you just saw Raisel Iglesias sort of get handed the ninth. Like 'well it's either you or A.J. Minter, maybe it's best that you take it'. And he's been good as a closing man, which shouldn't be too shocking. He's got 19 saves in 29 games, he's reliable as heck. But you have to think like 'if he goes, then who takes the ninth?' Minter? Pierce Johnson maybe? It's not as layered as usual.

Look, I'm seeing this Braves team on Sunday. It's not 100% certain who they're giving the ball to. I'd guess Fried, but it was supposed to be Hurston Waldrep, the only Brave with a posher name than 'Dansby Swanson', and he got hurt. I'm still thinking it'll be a tight game but I don't know how much of a punch this team can throw without the main source of energy. But hey, maybe Marcell Ozuna will do something. 

Coming Tomorrow- Of all the people slated to start games for the Royals this year, the one I was the most unsure about. And of course he's been great.

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