Bleacher Report’s bold predictions for Braves after 60 games

MLB: JUN 01 Athletics at Braves

The Braves are 35-26 through 61 games, about the same mark they were a year ago when they nearly broke the franchise record for most wins in a season with 104, but it certainly feels worse than that. Partly because what was a historic offense a year ago has performed like a bottom of the barrel team for well over a month, and partly because the rival Philadelphia Phillies can’t seem to lose a game, extending their lead in the NL East to 8 games.

The Braves have a lot of ground to make up over the final 101 games, but they have the horses to do it. Which is one of several bold predictions Tim Kelly of Bleacher Report made pertaining to the Braves after 60 games of the season, citing they still have the offensive firepower to be dangerous.

Even without Acuña, this is still a lineup that’s loaded with talent. If last year’s MLB home run and RBI leader Matt Olson hits his stride after a slow start, manager Brian Snitker still has one of the best lineups in baseball, when you add in Austin Riley, Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies, Michael Harris II and the catching tandem of Sean Murphy/Travis d’Arnaud.

Olson isn’t the only player who history tells us better results are going to come from, as Riley, Harris and Orlando Arcia have all underwhelmed this season, and Murphy just returned from an oblique injury that cost him close to two months.

I have developed some concerns about the Braves offense that I never could have imagined having at the beginning of the season. Losing the reigning NL MVP is obviously a massive blow. Just because the Braves won the World Series without Acuña in 2021, it doesn’t make him any easier to replace this time around.

However, I think it more has to do with the fact that reality is striking the Braves in the face to begin the season. No, they aren’t going to be as abysmal as they have been over the last six weeks. It’s not possible with this much talent, but seemingly every player in the Braves lineup had a career year in 2024. Now, it’s the opposite.

As with most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The Braves aren’t going to be world-beaters like they were a year ago, but they surely will look much more competent the rest of the way, and with this pitching staff, that may just be enough to catch the Phillies and make some noise in October.

The other bold prediction from Tim Kelly that pertains to the Braves surrounds the NL Cy Young race. Kelly predicts there will be a first time Cy Young award winner in each league, specifically mentioning Chris Sale.

Chris Sale, Atlanta Braves: Like Imanaga, Sale recently had a clunker, surrendering eight runs over four innings against the Oakland Athletics on June 1. Still, he’s having his best season in half a decade, as he leads the NL in FIP (2.48), BB/9 (1.3) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (8.20).

Before his outing against the Athletics last week, Chris Sale may have been the leader in the clubhouse for the NL Cy Young award. However, one forgetful showing shouldn’t cost him too much. If he continues to strike batters out at a ridiculous rate and limit his walks, the results will come, and it may finally be time for one of the best lefty pitchers of this generation to win the prestigious award.

With that being said, he’ll have some competition within his own team. Reynaldo Lopez is off to a helluva start, but I’m looking at Max Fried. One of the most consistent pitchers of the last half-decade, Fried got off to a miserable start to the season, giving up ten earned runs over his first five innings pitched. Since then, he’s 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA over his last 10 starts, and frankly, it feels even better than that.

This is the best version of Max Fried we’ve ever seen. His velocity is higher than it has ever been and he’s in total command of all of his pitches. If this continues, he’ll undoubtedly be at the forefront of the conversation at season’s end.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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