Braves: Five biggest questions entering 2023?

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We are now five days away from Opening Day, as I continue my series leading up to the Braves series against the Nationals. If you missed any of the previous editions to this series, follow the links below:

Who is the next great under the radar signing by Alex Anthopoulos?

Alex Anthopoulos does a number of fantastic things as a general manager, but one of the things that go seemingly unnoticed every year is the little additions that end up making a considerable impact. There are countless examples each season, but who will be the guy(s) this year? My money is on Sam Hilliard.

Can the Braves bullpen be great again?

The Braves lost their closer in Kenley Jansen to free agency this offseason. Though he gave fans a heart attack nearly every time he toed the rubber; make no mistake about it, that’s a massive blow to what was one of the best bullpens in baseball a year ago. How will they replace a guy that led the league in saves? They added Joe JimĂ©nez via trade during the offseason. He should help, but there’s also a scenario where a lot of their relievers from last year experience regression. On paper, this is a very deep group, but bullpens are volatile and unpredictable. There’s always a chance things go sour, especially if injuries arise.

Can Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna be reliable starters again?

The Braves need to find answers at left field and DH, and their best options are Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario, who were two of the worst players in baseball a year ago. However, they have the potential to be critical pieces in 2023. Rosario’s struggles last year stemmed from vision issues. He should feel much more comfortable and experience severe positive regression toward his career averages. Ozuna’s dealt with a lot over the last two years, mostly due to his own transgressions. But this is a player that was competing for the triple crown in 2020. He’s a two-time All-Star and has the ability to mash 30+ homers with ease. He’s been fantastic this Spring, but will that success continue into the regular season?

Who will establish themself as the 5th starter?

This is something I’m not concerned about, but it will have to be answered over the course of the season. The Braves top four in the starting rotation of Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Spencer Strider, and Charlie Morton rivals any in baseball. After that, it’s anybody’s best guess, but Atlanta has a ton of options at their disposal. Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd are battling it out right now for the first opportunity. However, Ian Anderson, Mike Soroka, Bryce Elder, and Kolby Allard are waiting in the wings. When it comes to starting pitching depth, the Braves have an embarrassment of riches, but who will be the guy that steps up and takes a stranglehold of the 5th spot in the rotation?

Can the Braves successfully fill the shoes of Dansby Swanson?

This is the biggest question the Braves will have to figure out if they want to reach their ultimate goal, and right now, the answer isn’t on the roster. Atlanta chose to option Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake to Gwinnett in favor of Orlando Arcia and Ehire Adrianza. They believe both of the youngsters need more seasoning, which I’ve been saying since last season ended, and why I believed they would sign a more proven veteran during the offseason so they didn’t end up in the situation they currently are in. Arcia performed valiantly in place of Ozzie Albies last season, but he’s best served as a utility piece. He’s proven that over his seven-year career. The Braves better hope Vaughn Grissom or Braden Shewmake steps up, or they are going to have to make a move at the trade deadline, and they don’t have a lot left on the farm that will be appealing to other teams.

Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

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