Multiple Braves appear on ESPN’s 2024 MLB Awards Watch

MLB: MAY 08 Red Sox at Braves

The Braves are off to a drag of a start to the season. Atlanta sits 31-23 and 6.5 games back of the division-leading Phillies.

Not only has the offense been arguably the worst group in baseball over the last month or so, but the injury bug continues to bite this club. Ronald Acuna Jr. is the latest to suffer, tearing his ACL and ending his season.

Acuna joins Spencer Strider on the shelf, but they’re hardly the only ones who have had stints on the IL. A.J. Smith-Shawver, Sean Murphy, Austin Riley, A.J. Minter, and Pierce Johnson have or are currently missing time.

However, thanks to a few individuals, the Braves are still keeping their heads above water. A few of those standouts were acknowledged in ESPN’s pieces on the 2024 MLB awards watch.

Front-runner: Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers (140.8)

Next nine: 2. Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers (137.6); 3. William Contreras, Milwaukee Brewers (131.9); 4. Jurickson Profar, San Diego Padres (128.2); 5. Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta Braves (126.1);

Offensively, the Big Bear is the only Braves hitter that has had sustained success. I’m not talking about a week or so. It feels like no Braves player has been hot for multiple weeks, and Marcell Ozuna hasn’t stopped hitting since the season began.

The Braves offense isn’t struggling for lack of talent. Matt Olson and Austin Riley are two of the most feared hitters in the sport. Michael Harris, Sean Murphy, and Ozzie Albies are all more than capable of contributing at a high level; it just hasn’t come together for whatever reason.

However, the Braves still sit eight games over .500 because of a few Cy Young-caliber pitchers, two of which were mentioned in the ESPN piece.

Front-runner: Ranger Suarez, Phillies (138.1)

Next nine: 2. Chris Sale, Braves (134.7); 3. Zack Wheeler, Phillies (130.3); 4. Shota Imanaga, Chicago Cubs (130.2); 5. Hunter Greene, Reds (130.5); 6. Tyler Glasnow, Dodgers (126.5); 7. Logan Webb, Giants (124.5); 8. Reynaldo Lopez, Braves (123.1);

Chris Sale and Reynaldo Lopez were acquired this offseason, and both have been roaring successes thus far.

The experiment to move Lopez from the bullpen to the rotation has paid massive dividends through the first couple of months of the season. The $30 million free agent signing owns an eye-popping 1.75 ERA across nine starts spanning 51.1 innings. And somehow, Lopez isn’t even the most impressive Braves starter.

That honor goes to Sale, who is among the best pitchers in baseball. The seven-time All-Star owns a 2.12 ERA and an MLB-leading 2.11 FIP, which says this is no fluke, to go along with an NL-leading 8.67 SO/W ratio. His month of May in particular has been a joy to watch. Sale owns a 0.56 ERA across 32.0 innings and a perfect 5-0 record thanks to an impressive 45 strikeouts to only two walks.

If he stays healthy, there’s no reason to believe Chris Sale can’t win his first Cy Young in a Braves uniform.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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