We knew all along that the 2016 Atlanta Braves would test the fans’ patience. But now, with a 0-4 start through Saturday – the only team in the National League without a win – we’re getting a better look at just how bad this team might be.
The pitching staff has an ERA of 5.35, among the highest in Major League Baseball. The offense has scored 10 runs, third-worst of 30 teams in the league. They’re slugging just .222, more than 30 points worse than the second-worst team in the majors, showing how little power there is in the lineup.
Through four games, the Braves have committed six errors, and as Braves TV play-by-play broadcaster Chip Caray said Saturday night, a team never looks worse than when they can’t catch the ball. All of this is combining to say one thing: the Braves are going to really stink this year.
It’s not a statement that’s going to catch anyone by surprise, as we all knew the Braves were likely destined for the NL East basement. The franchise is in the middle of rebuilding, and there will be growing pains.
But boy is this painful. If you go back to Spring Training – games that don’t count, so take this with a grain of salt – the Braves haven’t won a game since they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 22. That’s 13 straight losses or ties; perhaps these guys have forgotten what it feels like to win a ballgame. It sure looks like it.
There have been small glimmers of hope in the early-going. Third baseman Adonis Garcia has been decent at the plate, leading the team in nearly every offensive statistic. Relief pitcher Arodys Vizcaino is as good as advertised, and it wouldn’t shock me to see manager Fredi Gonzalez put him in the closer role full-time, sooner than later.
Admittedly, four games is a small sample size in a 162-game season. Every team will experience a four-game swoon over the course of an MLB season. This team could very well be playing the worst baseball it’ll play all year.
But when you consider what we’ve feared all along with this team has come true in the first four games – poor bullpen pitching, bad fielding, a lack of timely hitting – it’s looking more likely that this will be a trend as the season goes on, not an aberration.
Image: AP/Brett DavisFollow @Sean_Breslin