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The team has a deep lineup and rotation, including potential breakout candidates such as Paul Maholm.
Standout Hitter: Justin Upton
Standout Pitcher: Paul Maholm
Speaking of the tough NL East, the Atlanta Braves have a good chance of winning the division the way that they are playing.
The biggest storyline of this team, which will likely follow them all season, is the impact of the newly acquired Upton brothers. So far, Justin has been sensational while brother B.J. has been the opposite.
Justin is hitting .423 and leads the majors with six home runs already, while B.J. only has one home run to go along with his .120 batting average. But B.J. made his home run count, as the brothers made history Saturday night, hitting the home runs to tie and then win the game.
The Uptons also have a knack to make very boneheaded plays. All is good in Atlanta right now, but it is imperative that the two stay levelheaded if the team starts to slump.
On the field, Justin only has eight RBI to go along with those six home runs. Aside from Justin, the rest of the lineup has been uninspiring, and they only rank in the middle of the majors for most offensive categories.
So how are they 6-1?
The main reason for the strong start is that this team will live and die by their pitching staff.
And what a staff it is.
Headlined by the ageless wonder Tim Hudson, the Braves have allowed the second-fewest runs in baseball at 16. As a whole, the team has a 2.29 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.
Maholm, a breakout candidate this year, has been perfect in his first two starts. He is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 12.2 innings. Maholm has only given up seven hits and four walks to go along with 13 strikeouts.
Another potential star is Mike Minor.
Minor was one of the best pitchers in baseball after the 2012 All-Star break. He was 6-4 with a 2.16 ERA and 0.87 WHIP, including a September where he went 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. Opposing batters hit only .197 against Minor in the second half.
In his only start so far, Minor was stellar in 7.1 innings. He allowed just five hits and a solo home run, as well as seven strikeouts to no walks. Minor finished with only 84 pitches on the night, and he should continue to be just as efficient this season.
The NL East will be a tight race this year. The Braves and Washington Nationals are World Series contenders. The Mets are young, but they are talented and motivated. Even the aging Phillies cannot be counted out with the stars they have.
Nonetheless, the Braves have established themselves as a team with a deep pitching staff. They are 6-1 despite their underachieving lineup, and once the lineup picks up the slack this will be a tough team to beat.