Three Pitchers Key To Atlanta’s Second Half
The Atlanta Braves outlook for the second half revolves, in large part, around three pitchers: Ian Anderson, Charlie Morton, and Spencer Strider. Anderson and Morton likely have two more starts apiece before the trade deadline, August 2. Both have ERAs well above their career averages. Morton does lead the team in strikeouts but home runs have been an issue for him. Morton gave up three home runs in his last start against the New York Mets. Anderson’s struggles have come with both walks and home runs. He is averaging less than five innings his last seven starts. If the two of them pitch well before the deadline how much does that change the front offices thinking over who to target, if at all?
The question needs to be asked because even though the bullpen has been strong injuries have been an issue. Tyler Matzek appears to be trying to figure things out coming off left shoulder inflamation. Luke Jackson had Tommy John surgery before the season started and Kenley Jansen is just coming back from an irregular hearbeat. That’s why sending Spencer Strider to the bullpen makes sense. Taking stress and innings away from other relievers can help Matzek and Jansen especially. Since Strider would be moving from the rotation he could easily be used more than one inning. Keeping key relievers fresh until the postseason will be important for the Braves. Matzek’s contributions to last year’s World Series cannot be understated.
Better Production From Acuna Makes Braves Offense Frightening
Atlanta leads the NL in runs scored this year and is second in MLB in OPS and home runs. That they are doing this with Ronald Acuna Jr struggling, especially in the last month, is even more remarkable. All of Acuna’s stats are below his career averages. He is also not getting on top of the ball, as his high ground ball rate shows. Yes, Adam Duvall and Marcell Ozuna have struggled as well, but at his Acuna best is one of the top five players in baseball. His power and speed at the of the lineup changes games, and he can carry an offense. A return to form for Acuna improves the Braves outlook in overtaking the Mets and returning to and winning World Series again.
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