680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – One of my favorite lines from any baseball movie comes from Field Of Dreams. And while people might not necessarily come this season, the one constant through all the years has been baseball. I don’t know about you, but even with just cardboard cutouts of fans in the seats at Dodger Stadium last night, there was such a sense of calm watching meaningful baseball late last night. The last four months have been full of plenty of uncertainty. At times, it felt like there was no chance the virus would allow the game to go on. Then, there was the ugly back-and-forth between the players and the owners. But, even after all that, the American Pasttime is back once again!
Today, we’ll see history made in Queens as Mike Soroka becomes the youngest pitcher in franchise history to start a season opener for the Braves. We know about the success the 22 year old righty had on the road last season, a trait he attributes to receiving from his action with Baseball Canada a number of years back. As Soroka said a few days ago, “everything that happens this season will be a trivia question” and 2020 will surely be unlike any other baseball season we’ve ever seen before. The game will still be the game on the field. Sure, there’s some new rule changes that might take a little getting used to. And some will not like the fact that more than half the teams will make the Postseason. But honestly, with as much doubt as there was about being able to pull off this season, who really cares?
I’m not much into predictions. As a matter of fact, in 2017 I went way out on a limb and picked the Giants to beat the Tigers in the World Series. Those two teams had the first and second picks in the following years Draft, so it was literally impossible to be any less accurate. I will say this though, if the Braves want to repeat as NL East champs for the third straight year, the biggest key to getting to the top of the standings once again will be the third, fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. I think every Braves fan feels good about Soroka and Fried. Newcomb has shown signs over the last few years of being a solid middle of the rotation starter, but has also battled inconsistencies as well. Speaking of, Mike Foltynewicz was only in the low 90’s with his fastball on Tuesday night in his final exhibition start. And Kyle Wright has limited Big League experience but will be counted on with Cole Hamels being sent to the IL yesterday. The bullpen is solid. The offense will score runs. The rotation needs the bottom three to step up and I think they’re all very much up to the challenge. Ok, I lied, I’ll make one prediction. The Braves win the NL East and FINALLY advance beyond the first round of the (expanded) playoffs.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet