Note: Article originally published in The Talon; Dacula High School’s Newspaper and is up to date as of April 19, 2019.
After finishing last year’s season with an excellent 90 wins and 72 losses, the Atlanta Braves finished first in the National League (NL) East and went on to the playoffs. It was a spectacular season for Braves fans as the Braves made it to the NL Division series, only to lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1. This season, after making some excellent trades in the off-season, the Braves will once again look to make the playoffs and maybe a World Series, but it is going to be much harder this time around.
During the off-season, the Braves showed intent in their ambition to once again perform well and improve. The signing of former American League MVP Josh Donaldson from Cleveland is probably the biggest one of their three signings for the Braves. Last season alone, Donaldson managed to score 60 runs in the space of 104 games. To further improve the Braves’ team, last year’s Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña and first baseman Freddie Freedman signed contract extensions, fortifying the Braves’ batting line-up.
However, a problem last season was the pitching. Last season, the pitching became weak, especially in the latter end when the Braves had to play the Dodgers. Coming into this season, the Braves were unable to acquire a new pitcher and second pitcher Mike Foltynewicz became injured.
Due to the strong batting lineup but unstable pitching, the Braves have seen some remarkable wins yet saddening losses at the same time. Since the season started, the Braves have managed to win series against the Chicago Cubs, the Miami Marlins and the Colorado Rockies. However, they have also been at the end of some hard losses against division favorites Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Mets and now the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Though the Braves have had recorded some impressive victories so far this season, it still will be very difficult for the Braves to accomplish their goal of reaching the World Series. Unfortunately, it also seems unlikely that Braves will finish first in the NL East after the Pirates signed 2015 National League MVP Bryce Harper. So far, in 18 games, Harper already has 12 runs to his name. His opening three matches against the Braves saw three home runs and three hits along with that. The New York Mets this season will also be looking to challenge for a playoff spot as their record so far is 11-10, being second in the NL East.
Outside of the NL East, there are plenty of other teams who are hungry for and are capable of achieving a playoff spot ahead of the Braves, including the Cubs, Dodgers or the Diamondbacks. The Braves will have to play exceptional and near-perfect this season if they envision a World Series spot.
The Braves have been blessed with a strong and feared batting lineup which will take them far this season. But only so far, not far enough. If the pitching situation is not improved, it can cost matches, especially in the playoffs. Hopefully Foltynewicz will recover soon and the Braves can win more series, but until then, it is up in the air as to how the Braves will finish this season.