Through six weeks of the season, the Braves now sit at 16-20 and trail the Mets by seven games for first place in the NL East. It’s still early, and this team hasn’t been healthy to this point, but that hasn’t stopped the panic from rising throughout Braves Country on social media.
I am SO SICK of hearing these garbage, homer announcers telling us we need to "look on the bright side" of every loss.
This ain't Upward. Everybody doesn't get a trophy. This @Braves team sucks. Until it doesn't.
— Brad Shepard (@Brad_Shepard) May 17, 2022
The Braves just suck this year I’ve finally come to the conclusion
— Nick Braves n Bucs (@Fiction12211) May 17, 2022
Can’t make this up. Team f n sucks #braves
— nicholas (@nichola59691288) May 17, 2022
Per usual, these are completely level-headed responses from the fan base, and there are a million more tweets and comments on other social media platforms that are exactly like this. By the look of it, you’d think we only have 4.5 weeks remaining in the season, not 4.5 months. But admittedly, the Braves have been stuck in the mud through the first 20% of the schedule, so what should be the panic level for this team halfway through May?
Panic Meter: 2 out of 10
Last time I did this exercise, my panic level was at a 1.5 out of 10, so we are on the rise, folks. In reality, not much has changed since then. The Braves are trailing by seven games instead of six, and a couple of weeks of the schedule have passed. Still, I don’t see why this team can’t put it all together and win this division for the fifth straight year.
For a second, let’s talk about the good. The Braves’ pitching staff might be the best in baseball. Following the decision to place Tyler Matzek on the Injured List last night, injuries are beginning to pile up in the bullpen. But still, from top to bottom, the Braves can hold a candle to anyone.
Max Fried is a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate, Kyle Wright has proven his hot start is no fluke, and Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson have both looked much better of late. The fifth spot in the rotation remains a revolving door, with Tucker Davidson set to pitch Tuesday night. However, that role could eventually belong to Spencer Strider, who has been unbelievable in relief this season. If he can replicate that kind of success in the rotation, I’m not sure there is a better group of starting pitchers in the league.
An elite rotation alone can take a team a long way, but the Braves also feature arguably the best bullpen in the league. Even without Luke Jackson and Tyler Matzek, this group is second to none, and there’s still hope Matzek’s MRI results come back negative and he can return in a couple of weeks.
To this point, the issue with this team has been the offense, and it’s almost unexplainable how abysmal the Braves have been hitting as a group. In short, pretty much everyone is struggling. Of the core group of hitters — Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Travis d’Arnaud, Ozzie Albies, Adam Duvall, Dansby Swanson, and Marcell Ozuna — not a single one is hitting over .260. Now, of course, average isn’t everything, but that’s almost unfathomable to think about when talking about those seven guys.
Getting Ronald Acuña back for good should have a profound effect on the Braves’ run scoring capabilities, but eventually, the other guys have to get going. They all have track records of success at the plate, so there’s no reason to believe this can continue for 4.5 more months.
Once the offense turns things around, the wins should begin to pile up in bunches. There’s too much talent for these bats to falter all season long, and even if things do continue this way, I also believe in Alex Anthopoulos’ ability to upgrade the roster when necessary. As long as the Braves can avoid major injuries, the panic meter will remain low until further notice.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire