Atlanta Braves: Their 5 Biggest Concerns for the Second Half
Each team has a good chance to win the division, and each team has concerns that may keep them from doing so.
This article will address the concerns that may keep the Braves from the postseason.
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The Braves' injuries were a large issue in the first half of the season.
Many of their best players have visited the DL in recent months.
It will be quite a relief if the Braves can avoid injuries to their key players in this half of the season.
Currently, Peter Moylan is on the DL, which is an issue for the bullpen. Kimbrel, Venters, and O'Flaherty are pitching nearly every other day, and injuries to them are a concern. With Moylan's return, the great amount of innings pitched by them could be relieved.
Chipper Jones is also recovering from surgery, and his return to the roster is questioned. It is important that he plays, because without him, the batting lineup contains both Schafer and McLouth.
If injuries can be avoided, there should be a major improvement in the Braves' performance.
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While the Braves' amazing pitching has been carrying the team, their offense has been struggling.
Currently, the Braves' batting average 26th, and their amount of runs scored ranks 18th.
If this does not improve, the Braves will have difficulties making it into the playoffs.
If they were to trade for a top outfielder to replace Schafer or McLouth, the Braves would be in good shape.
Or, if they would prefer not to make a trade, they could stick with their current lineup and hope for its improvement.
The Braves lineup contains Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, and Brian McCann, all players who could contribute great offense to the Braves. If they manage to do so, the Braves will be in great shape even without a trade.
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Jurrjens is the Braves ace, and he is currently one of the best pitchers in the game.
It is questioned whether he will be able to continue his amazing performance throughout the remainder of the season.
If he does keep up his top performance, the Braves should continue to display one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.
The issue of Jurrjens not being capable of continuing to display amazing numbers has been raised, because of his young age, and because his sabermetric stats do not favor him.
I am convinced he will continue to perform as he currently is, however, if he does not, the Braves may have difficulties competing for a playoff spot.
National League Central
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The Central division is the only division that seems prepared to propose a fight for the wild card.
If the Braves do not manage to take the division from the Phillies, their next goal will be the wild card.
The Braves currently have a large lead in the wild card race, and will most likely hold on to it for the rest of the season.
However, two of these three teams from the NL Central will be competing with them, perhaps along with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Braves have a very good chance of holding onto their lead, but if they let it slip, they will be in trouble.
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The single team that can keep the Braves away from the postseason would be the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Braves currently sit 3.5 games back from their rivals, and hope to catch up to them during this half of the season.
Both teams have amazing pitching, perhaps the two best staffs in the league.
Both teams also have struggling offense, and are considering trading for a top outfielder.
Either team has a chance to win the division, but the Phillies do have the edge at the moment, which could keep the Braves from entering the playoffs.