Welcome to the second season! As we turn the calendar from September to October, the Braves celebrate their first division title since 2005. Tim Hudson and Brian McCann remain as the lone members of the roster who were with the Braves eight seasons ago when they won their last NL East championship. Fredi gave his squad the day off on Monday before getting back on the field for workout days both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Perhaps the biggest news came on Wednesday when it was revealed that Dan Uggla, the teams highest paid player was not part of the roster for the Division Series. This season has been a complete disaster for the three time All-Star who recently broke his own franchise record with 171 strikeouts in 448 at bats. Uggla’s .179 batting average this season was worst in the bigs, and his .137 average with runners in scoring position was second lowest in the Majors. When asked about the decision to leave Uggla off the roster, Fredi Gonzalez said they needed to “put your best 25 out there to compete” and called the decision “one of the hardest days I’ve ever had to experience as a Major League manager.” Uggla and Fredi go a ways back to their time with the Marlins but Fredi understood this decision had to be what was best for the team.
The series against the Dodgers won’t be easy. Atlanta will have to face a reigning (and probably current) Cy Young pitcher in Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke and Hun-Jin Ryu in the first three games. However, the Braves hand the ball to the NL Pitcher of the Month for September in Kris Medlen, who went 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in five starts last month. Mike Minor has really come into his own since the All-Star Break of 2012, and Julio Teheran put together a strong rookie campaign posting 171 strikeouts which is a new Braves rookie record.
Looking for some good news? Matt Kemp is already ruled out for the postseason, Andre Ethier may be limited to a role off the bench, and both Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez have been dealing with nagging injuries as well. Not to mention the fact that Puig has really struggled offensively over the last month or so.
Can the Braves beat the big bad Dodgers? Of course they can, but it won’t be easy. But then again, they’re not supposed to be easy this time of year. Everyone starts with a clean slate. What happened in the regular season means little now. I do like the Braves in 5 games, but as I’ve said more than a few times, it won’t be easy.
For the latest on the Braves, follow Braves Radio Network Reporter Kevin McAlpin on Twitter (@KevinMcAlpin).
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