Braves

Braves: Freddie Freeman doesn’t blame elbow injury for struggles

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An elbow ailment limited Freddie Freeman throughout September. From the second game of the month to the end of the season, he didn’t tally a home run, and his OPS was a putrid .625, which is almost unheard for Freeman over a calendar month. It even forced the Braves ironman to sit out a four-game stretch in the season’s final week and continued to bother him in the last series of the year against the Mets.

Following the break in action between game 162 and the start of the NLDS, Freeman told reporters he felt excellent after some workouts and a simulated game. Perhaps that was the case following several days of rest over the two weeks leading up to the postseason, because Freeman came out swinging in Game 1. He was a part of the rally in the first inning that led to the first run of the series, then put the Braves a run closer in the ninth inning with a mammoth home run, but Freeman hasn’t looked the same since.

In Game 2, he went 0-3, followed by an 0-4 performance in Game 3, but those were only the appetizer for Game 4, where Freeman was taking cuts like Austin Riley at the peak of his slump earlier this year. At one point, he missed on six straight swings. It’s not unusual for Freeman to strike out, but to do so with so many whiffs is a cause for concern. If he’s healthy, he sure as hell doesn’t look like it.

After the brutal walk-off loss that forced a Game 5 at SunTrust Park, Freeman responded to questions regarding his recent struggles. He didn’t blame it on the injury.

I wouldn’t expect anything different to come out of Freeman’s mouth. Unless he’s really in pain to the point where he cannot play, it would be unlike him to make excuses for his underwhelming results over the last three games. There is the possibility his tone might change once the series ends, but I would not count on it.

For those of you tweeting negative things about Freeman or pointing the finger at him for the loss – QUIT IT. He’s not a choker; he’s not folding under pressure; he’s just slumping. It is baseball – this happens to the best players in the world. But in no way should or would Brian Snitker ever think about benching him for another player. Freeman has earned the right – injured or not – to play every game in the playoffs if he believes he is healthy enough to be out there. From his comments tonight, expect to see him starting at first base as always, and I couldn’t think of a better way for the NLDS to end than for him to lift the Braves when it matters most.

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