680 THE FAN, ATLNTA – As the Braves wrap up twenty games in twenty days to start the regular season, a day off Thursday certainly comes at the right time. Sitting at 11-9 through the first third of the year seems like a pretty solid accomplishment, especially when you take into account the fact this team is down five starters from five weeks ago, they’ve been without both Ozzie Albies and Matt Adams for over a week and now their All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuna is dealing with wrist inflammation. In addition, keep in mind that both veteran catchers missed the first road trip as they were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Speaking of which, Freddie Freeman got off to a slow start as his time in July was limited as well as he recovered from Coronavirus. When you take into account all this team has gone through during the first few weeks of the season, 11-9 doesn’t sound so bad.
In addition, with all their inconsistencies and revolving door in the starting rotation, the team remains just one game back of the first place…Marlins? That’s right, Miami has been one of the surprises around Major League Baseball this season, albeit they’re still just 12 games in after an outbreak of COVID swept through their clubhouse like wildfire. Elsewhere around the division, the Nationals just don’t look the same without Anthony Rendon in the heart of the order. And Nationals fans can relate with Braves fans in the sense that both Max Scherzer (back) and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg (hand pain) are big question marks in the rotation. The Philly bullpen is the definition of dumpster fire and the Mets have now lost starters Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman, along with Yoenis Cespedes, who disappeared during the last Braves homestand, later deciding to opt-out of the season.
So, the bottom line is, while the Braves haven’t been overly impressive, they’re well positioned. Alex Anthopoulos has a track record of finding players with high upside he can plug in to fill certain voids. Offensively, this team is going to be fine. And the bullpen has been tremendous, even better than I honestly could’ve ever expected. The team needs to get the starting pitching figured out, and they need to do so in a hurry. Because, with 40 games, right now, this rotation is Max Fried…and everybody else. And we all know, you can’t rely on an offense to score eight to ten runs a night to cover up your shortcomings in the rotation. Like I said, the day off comes at a great time for this team to regroup and get set for a good challenge this weekend in Miami starting tomorrow night.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and @BravesRadioNet.