2011 Atlanta Braves: The Pitching Is There, but Where Is the Offense?

Josh MaleyContributor IIIApril 21, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves runs to first base against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

We all knew coming into this season that the Braves' pitching was going to be solid. But we also felt like that the offense was going to improve. With this combination, the Braves were thought to be one of the best teams in the NL. Well, at the moment, only one of those beliefs has come true.

In a league with great pitching—from San Francisco to the Phillies—the Braves have shown that they have one of the most well rounded staff. Their bullpen is deep and filled with young and talented arms, while their starting rotation has a good mix of veterans and newer throwers.

However, the pitching is not being backed up by the other half of the team. Instead of having one of the best records in the NL, they are under .500. In fact, they are fourth in the NL East. 

Unlike last year, the Braves have not had many timely hits. Instead of winning one run games, they have been on the losing end a lot of the time.

Heyward has been slumping, Chipper has cooled down, Prado has not been a hitting machine and Uggla strikes out what seems like half the time. For a lineup filled with All-Stars, they have been playing like the San Diego Padres

Good pitching only pays off when the offense scores at least four runs. But that has not been happening. So far, the Braves have allowed only a maximum of three runs 11 times out of 20 games. With that offense, they should at least be at or above .500. Instead they are four games under. 

Why is this happening? Many people, including myself, don't know. One possibility is that Uggla and the rest of the team are slow starters. 

Remember last year? In the month of April Atlanta went 9-14. Like this year, their pitching was exemplary, but their offense was on vacation.

Braves fans hope that this year is a mirror of last year's start. For the team, it would be better that their slump be in April, not September when it really matters.

This could just be a fluke month for the Bravos, or it could be a sign of things to come. Thankfully for Atlanta, there are 162 games in a season, not 20. 

This is a team that doesn't require many runs for them to win. If they could find a way to manufacture runs on a day that the team is offensively struggling, then they could turn things around.

Right now, though, their offense is not performing at an expected level.