The Braves have fallen in back-to-back NLDS to the Phillies.
Last postseason, Max Fried and Spencer Strider were a shell of themselves. Philadelphia’s lineup proved too powerful to overcome, and they faced similar difficulties this year. Fried and Charlie Morton were the ones injured, but it was Atlanta’s historic offense that failed to deliver mostly.
Alex Anthopoulos’ job isn’t an envious one. There’s not much he can do to upgrade the offense, with only left field to fill. The pitching staff, however, can be upgraded significantly if AA feels the need. It just depends on what he learned, which Kiley McDonald of ESPN weighed in on.
Is there something the Braves need to fix, or was that just a tough luck offseason?
With straight National League Division Series exits coming on the heels of dominant regular seasons, the Braves are the new face of MLB’s playoff format conundrum. Atlanta had the best offense the sport has seen since the 1931 Yankees and were heavy favorites coming into the postseason. Everyone knew there was a weakness (starting pitching depth) that could leave the Braves short of their ultimate goal, but it was that historic offense that floundered at the worst possible time, (.186/.255/.264 in the playoffs as a team) en route to being beat by the Phillies in four games.
Obviously, that kind of slump doesn’t mean the offense wasn’t actually good or needs to be retooled. Plus, most of the core players (remember, I have this core ranked as the best in baseball two years in a row) are already locked up. Due in part to this fact, FanGraphs’ depth charts have the Braves as the best team in the NL by 14 games right now. Other teams will make a lot of moves this offseason, and the Braves won’t make many big ones (left field, starting pitching depth) so that number will shrink, but I think they’ll hold another lead on paper going into 2024 like they did entering October this year
The Braves won’t have many areas to upgrade among the position players. Other than left field and shortstop, every position is locked up long-term. Anthopoulos could improve those two facets, but most of the opportunities surround the pitching staff.
With Charlie Morton, Pierce Johnson, and Joe Jimenez back in the fold, the Braves have another solid 40-man roster; one that is currently 2024 World Series favorites. As currently constructed, the Braves will be heavy favorites to win the NL East.
So, what Alex Anthopoulos does from here on out is all about building toward October. Getting another high-leverage reliever, preferably of the high velocity variety, and another solid middle-of-the-rotation starter would behoove the club in the long run.
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