Atlanta Braves: 6 Reasons Everyone Will Be Shocked in the Postseason
The Atlanta Braves are no strangers to the late-season playoff hunt.
Last year, they clinched a playoff berth only after winning the very last game of the season. Despite having a decent lead in the Wild Card race just a month ago, the Atlanta Braves are now in the middle of a fierce battle with the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Wild Card and are feeling the pressure.
The urgency has never been so great for the Braves, coming off a sweep by the Cardinals and dealing with a number of ailing players, including pitching studs Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and team-leader Chipper Jones know that it's now or never.
The Braves are still in line to win the Wild Card with a not-so-comfortable 4.5-game lead over St. Louis, and with Matt Holliday possibly out for the rest of the season, the Braves' playoff hopes are still very much intact.
Despite their recent struggles, here are six reasons why the Braves will shock everyone in the postseason.
Dan Uggla Will Boost Braves Through Wild Card Round
I think that many people have been shocked already this season by Dan Uggla's incredible turnaround. He has already come back from a .175 average to his current .236 and has blasted a career-high number of home runs—34 as of yesterday—with 76 RBI.
Uggla will continue his resurgence into the postseason, making an exponentially larger impact on the games and lifting the Braves offense to a Wild Card round victory.
Young Hurlers Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters Will Not Give Up a Single Run
Yes, you read that correctly.
Braves' young guns Kimbrel and Venters will not surrender a run during the postseason.
If the Braves can manage to secure a lead by the eighth inning when Venters comes in to work his magic, the game will be won.
Venters and Kimbrel have been dominant all season, giving up only a spare few runs here and there. The playoff pressure will only make them that much better.
Braves' Shortstop Alex Gonzalez Will Provide Much Needed Offense
Everybody knows that Alex Gonzalez is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. However, his offensive production leaves a lot to be desired. At least it has for most of the season.
He just recorded his 13th home run of the year to cap off the end of a series with the Marlins, ending the series with eight hits in the previous 10 at-bats.
Gonzalez looks to help his club to a World Series and has to know that continuing this recent offensive surge would be a huge help.
Tommy Hanson Will Return from Injury and End Up Braves Pitching MVP
Although Tommy Hanson has been sidelined with a shoulder injury for several weeks, he looks to perhaps make one more regular season start before the postseason.
If he can get healthy and ready for the playoffs, he has every chance to pitch better than the rest of the Braves' staff, despite his injury and time off the mound.
He's young, ice cold and extremely talented. The Braves will need him to step up in the postseason and he knows that.
Hanson will be the Braves' best in the playoff rotation.
Atlanta Braves Will Upset Phillies for the National League Championship
The Phillies are the golden boys of the National League.
For several seasons now they've enjoyed the most hype and highest expectations out of all NL teams. The Braves are 6-9 against the Phillies this season, and end the season with an exciting three-game series against them that could potentially be as nerve-racking as last year's finale.
My thinking is that the Braves have had enough. They've stayed atop the Wild Card race and firmly behind the Phillies in the division all season, but getting the chance to play them in the NLCS matters most.
The Braves will not let the opportunity to head to the World Series slip this time around.
Jason Heyward Will Live Up to His Potential
Jason Heyward has had the quintessential sophomore slump in his second season for the Atlanta. With a paltry .221 batting average and only 41 RBI, it's easy to dismiss Heyward as a hot hand last year whose hype has worn off already.
Braves management and Braves fans know that the potential is there. Heyward can be as dominant defensively and offensively as any outfielder in the majors, he just has to put the pieces together.
If the Braves make it to the postseason, Heyward will likely see this as his chance to say "I'm sorry" to the fans who have been disappointed with his production all season. He'll end the year on a good note.
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