The Atlanta Braves need certain guys to get hot to make a playoff run.
The Atlanta Braves need certain players to get hot if they want to get through the playoffs.
The Braves are in the process of deciding which players will be on their 25-man roster for the postseason. Even with that going on, certain players have to start getting into grooves.
Likely relegated to a wild-card spot, the Braves are looking to be this year's version of the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals got hot at the end of last year and rode that wave to a World Series title.
Once the playoffs hit, struggles are going to have to be a thing of the past. Players like Dan Uggla and Brian McCann are going to have to step it up.
If they don't, Chipper Jones may retire with only one World Series ring.
Here's a look at four players who will have to get hot for the Braves to make a run in the playoffs.
Dan Uggla has struggled mightily at the plate this year, with both his average and his home runs down from a year ago.
It's no secret that second baseman Dan Uggla has struggled all year for the Braves.
Batting .216 with 19 home runs and 72 RBI, Uggla has regressed this year at the plate. A year after he hit .233 with 36 home runs and 82 RBI, most thought Uggla would pick it up in 2012.
However, his average and power numbers have gone down.
The one thing that he has done well is draw walks; his 90 bases on balls lead the National League.
Uggla has done better over the last month, batting .266 with four home runs and 10 RBI. His on-base percentage is .374, and he's slugging .476.
Now, if only the second baseman can continue that trend into the playoffs.
The Braves need his bat in the middle of the lineup to provide key hits. If he can get it going, the Braves should be unstoppable in the middle of their order.
Brian McCann has struggled, posting a .228 batting average this year.
As much as any fan would hate to admit it, Brian McCann has struggled a lot this year as well.
He is batting .228 with 20 home runs and 67 RBI, so at least his power numbers are holding up from previous years. But McCann has struggled over the last month, batting .222 with two home runs and 10 RBI.
What's more troubling is that he's only drawn three walks in that time.
The Braves need more on offense from their catcher. He's one of the top catchers in all of baseball, and the Braves need him to be that in the playoffs.
There's never been a question about his defense. The concern mainly deals with his offense.
Michael Bourn only has two stolen bases in September.
When the Braves acquired Michael Bourn last year, they got the game's premier leadoff hitter.
Over the last month, Bourn has been anything but that.
Batting .203 with two stolen bases in the month of September, Bourn has struggled as of late. In fact, he struggled in August as well. For the two-month period, Bourn is batting .227 with 13 RBI and 11 stolen bases. What's troubling is that he's struck out 47 times.
The Braves need Bourn to do more at the plate. Whether it's drawing more walks or swinging away, Bourn needs to be on base more so he can swipe more bases.
The center fielder has 39 stolen bases the entire season, which are the least he's had in a season since 2007.
Bourn has to put pressure on the defense for the Braves to be successful.
Put it this way: The Braves are 22-10 when Bourn steals a base. Hence, if he steals a base, the Braves are likely to win.
Tommy Hanson has lost four straight decisions.
Entering the season, Tommy Hanson was the No. 2 pitcher on the starting staff.
For a while, he was showing why he deserved that nod, with a 9-4 record and a 3.59 ERA at the end of June. But, although he won three of four decisions in July, Hanson's ERA jumped to 4.29.
That's when Hanson went on the disabled list with a lower-back strain.
Since then, Hanson has struggled even more, starting seven games with four losses and three no-decisions.
In his last start (Sept. 21 against Philadelphia), Hanson gave up five runs in 5.1 innings. The Braves lost the game, 6-2.
When it comes to the starting rotation for the playoffs, Tim Hudson and Kris Medlen are guaranteed spots. That leaves Hanson, Paul Maholm and Mike Minor to fight it out for the other two.
With two starts before the end of the regular season, Hanson has to prove he belongs in the playoff rotation.