The Atlanta Braves are pushing for the top spot in the NL East
It was another slow start to the season for the Atlanta Braves, starting 23-27, but then the calendar switched to June. It must seem like déjà vu for the Braves after they got off to a suboptimal start last season. However, that team ended up winning the World Series and played without Ronald Acuña Jr. for almost half the year.
Even though fan-favorite Freddie Freeman left in free agency, the Braves have pushed themselves back up the National League East standings and have +175 odds to take the division.
The Braves had to start the season without Acuña for the first 19 games after Acuña suffered a torn ACL last July. In those 19 games, the Braves went 8-11, which put them in fourth place in the NL East standings.
Even when Acuña made his return and looked a bit like his former self, the Braves went 13-15 in May and were almost 11 games out of first place in the NL East. But for whatever reason, when the schedule flipped to June, the Braves looked like a brand new team.
They rattled off win after win, going on a 14-game winning streak to start the month of June. The Braves tallied seven more wins in June and finished the month with a 21-6 record.
A portion of the Braves’ success in June can be credited to shortstop Dansby Swanson and rookie center fielder Michael Harris. The pair both hit over .330 and combined for 72 hits, 35 RBIs, 11 home runs and 40 runs. With second baseman Ozzie Albies placed on the 60-day injured list in mid-June, the duo is going to have to continue to produce at the level they have been if the Braves want to sustain their current success.
Another portion of the Braves’ success is owed to their pitching staff. In the month of June, the Braves’ staff gave up two or less runs in 12 of their games. Max Fried was their most dominant pitcher in the month of June, posting a 2.16 ERA in 33.1 innings and striking out 35.
As a whole, the Braves’ pitching staff has been one of the best in the league, carrying the sixth best ERA (3.61) in the majors. Coupled with an offense that has produced the fifth most runs in the league, the Braves look to be back to their regularly scheduled program.
Can they take over the NL East?
The New York Mets have been atop the NL East except for one day out of the season and are -195 favorites to win the division. Their best pitcher, Jacob deGrom, has yet to make an appearance and they were also without starting pitcher Max Scherzer for half of May and all of June, yet their depth has kept them in first.
The Braves have been on a hot streak for the past month, but the Mets have been a well-oiled machine for the whole season, so there’s going to have to be some give on the Mets’ side if the Braves want to be king of the NL East.
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