Few teams are looking as forward to the Midsummer Classic, and the break that comes with it, like the Braves. Atlanta is coming off of a ten game road-trip in which they lost five of their last six games, tying them atop the division with the streaking Philadelphia Phillies.
Being mired in a stretch of losing is one of the reasons Atlanta could use a few days off, but more importantly many players are dealing with nagging injuries. Practically the entire Braves rotation has been on the DL at some point over the months of June and July. The only starter who has yet to experience a stint on the DL is Sean Newcomb. While none of the injuries across the rotation look serious (except for Mike Soroka who was moved to the 60-day DL), all of them could use some extra days of rest on their arms.
Pitchers are not the only players experiencing the struggles that come with a 162-game grind. Rising star, Ronald Acuna Jr., has yet to really be able to make an impact at the major league level due to multiple injuries. After recovering from a gruesome knee injury that fortunately turned out to be only a hyper-extension, Acuna returned only to be sidelined the last two contests with a groin strain. The Braves top prospect did pinch-hit in Sunday’s series finale versus the Brewers, but a full week to get healthy can only do him well.
Freddie Freeman has also been playing with a bone contusion in his right forearm. While the Ironman for the Braves has not allowed it to affect him, he could use a few days off as well. However, Freeman was the leading vote-getter in the National League, and unless something changes between now and then, he will be starting at first base in the All-Star game.
The Braves begin a two-game set with the Blue Jays tonight with Julio Teheran facing off against Marcus Stroman at SunTrust Park, a place they have dearly missed. Atlanta then stays at home for a three-game series with the NL West leading Diamondbacks. It will be interesting to see if the team can keep their heads down and finish the first half strong with the break looming. After all, first place is on the line.