Atlanta Braves' Win Streak Makes Them Favorite for NL Pennant

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Atlanta Braves' Win Streak Makes Them Favorite for NL Pennant
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves have won each of their last 11 games and, in doing so, have firmly established themselves as the team to beat in the National League.

The team's record now stands at 68-45, just one game in the loss column behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for the best record in the major leagues.

It's no surprise that Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, two of team's most talented players, have awakened from long slumps during the Braves' recent run.

Batting out of the No. 2 hole consistently for the first time all season, Upton is hitting .405 with four homers and 10 RBI during the streak.

Heyward, meanwhile, has been batting leadoff for the first time all year, and the results have been magnificent for manager Fredi Gonzalez. 

The Braves right fielder has scored a whopping 17 runs in the last 11 games to go along with three home runs.

Should these two young outfielders continue their success for the rest of the season, the rest of the National League should be put on notice.

Though each has underperformed as a whole this season, both are capable of carrying a team for long stretches.

Another big reason for the team's success has been the effectiveness of its pitching staff.

For most teams, losing a pitcher like Tim Hudson for the season would be a death sentence. Not for the Braves, though.

Mike Minor has established himself as the ace of the staff and has been at his best in recent starts, posting a 1.61 ERA in four second-half starts.

Other starters Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran and Alex Wood have ERAs below 4.00, and Brandon Beachy should only get better as he gets further removed from elbow surgery.

Add in a bullpen that has a major league-best 2.44 ERA on the season, and it’s difficult to find holes in this Braves team.

With a 13.5-game lead over the Washington Nationals, the Braves have all but wrapped up the National League East division.

Now they can focus on securing the best record in the NL and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The Braves have just seven games remaining against teams with records above .500, says ESPN's Buster Olney.

That easy schedule and big divisional lead might even allow the Braves to rest their star players and get healthy for a deep run into October.

Don't be surprised if the National League's most complete team racks up over 100 wins by season's end and runs away with the best record in the Senior Circuit.

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