Atlanta Braves: Almost Time to Panic?

Matthew GilmartinSenior Analyst IJuly 12, 2008

The Atlanta Braves are undoubtedly having a bad year.  They're 43-50, 7.5 games back from the first-place division rival Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.  They're even 8.5 games from the front-runner St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card.

Close games have killed Atlanta this year.  The club is 5-22 in one-run games this season, the worst record in that situation in the majors in 2008. 

Their hitting hasn't lived up to expectations, either.  The supposedly untouchable switch-hitting duo of Chipper Jones and Mark Teixiera has floundered - or, at least, one part of it has.  Chipper is the only Brave hitting above .300.           

The Braves as a team are hitting .263 (10th in the majors out of 30 teams), with 89 homers (18th) and 388 RBI (18th). 

Their pitching has been great, despite the mere 43 wins (22nd in the majors).  Atlanta's ERA has been top-notch all year, though, at 3.73 (sixth). 

The one-run games are obviously killing them more than anything, though the hitting is definitely a culprit as well.  These factors are keeping them out of the playoff race. 

They are in the middle of a three-game weekend series against the San Diego Padres, a team in complete disarray.  The Padres already won the first game of the series Friday night.  Jake Peavy came alive and dominated, and a Gregor Blanco error allowed two unearned runs to score. 

If the Braves lose this series to the Padres, it's time to panic and make some moves.

The Padres are 37-56, the third-worst record in the majors, only better than the Mariners and Nationals.

Their team batting average is .248 (27th in the majors), with 84 home runs (22nd) and 331 RBI (29th).

San Diego's pitching is actually decent.  Their ERA - 4.13 - is 16th in the majors.  They've given up the 14th-least homers in the MLB at 88, and the 13th-least hits at 834. 

But the fact is that the Padres are terrible, a pathetic excuse for a team. 

If the Braves lose this series - or, even worse, get swept - it's time to panic.  They should be able to beat the Padres.  But that wasn't the case in the first game.  The Padres won big. 

Braves, it may almost be time to panic and make some significant roster moves.