Braves’ current record: 73-55 (2nd in NL East, 4.5 games behind Washington Nationals)
August 20: Lost 5-4 at Washington Nationals (13 innings)
August 21: Lost 4-1 at Washington Nationals
August 22: Won 5-1 at Washington Nationals
August 23: Lost 5-2 at San Francisco Giants
August 24: Lost 5-3 at San Francisco Giants
August 25: Won 7-3 at San Francisco Giants
August 26: Won 7-1 at San Francisco Giants
You know what I’d really like to see? One of those offensive explosions where the Braves score 15 or 16 runs. Just an absolute disregard for a pitching staff … just once.
Unfortunately, the Braves haven’t looked capable of so much as double-digits lately, and the anemic offense has become a liability on nights when their starting pitchers aren’t throwing their best stuff. In 21 of their last 22 victories, the Braves’ pitchers have allowed three runs or less.
That tells me more about the Braves’ offense than it does about their pitchers. If the pitchers can throw gems, they usually win. But if they need their offense to get into a shootout to earn a win, it’s not happening. In all four of their losses this week, the Braves were held to four runs or less. The offensive output needs to get back on track, or the stretch run will be stressful for Braves fans.
The Braves’ six-man starting rotation didn’t last long, with Ben Sheets headed to the Disabled List. That’s a bad sign, because the Braves were beginning to count on his arm after just a handful of starts. Tommy Hanson has been less-than-stellar since his return to the rotation, and Paul Maholm went winless this week. But Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor continued to pitch well, and there shouldn’t be much reason to worry about this staff, other than Hanson.
Craig Kimbrel hasn’t earned a save since Aug. 3, but that’s not really his fault; He just hasn’t gotten into any save situations for the better part of this month. He’s still sitting on 31 saves, and hopefully, he’ll see plenty of chances to brush off the cobwebs and get some save opportunities in September.
Jonny Venters hasn’t allowed a single run this month in his relief appearances — everyone was holding their breath during his slow start to the season, but it looks like he’ll be a reliable arm in the bullpen down the stretch.
Aside from a few minor hiccups this week, the Braves were solid with their gloves as usual.
As a statistical update, five of the top six fielding teams hail from the American League. The only team from the NL is the Atlanta Braves. All is still well in the field.
The week ahead:
Monday: at San Diego Padres, 10:05 p.m.
Tuesday: at San Diego Padres, 10:05 p.m.
Wednesday: at San Diego Padres, 6:35 p.m.
Friday: vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 7:35 p.m.
Saturday: vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 5:05 p.m.