Heading into the trade deadline, an odd amount of Braves fans thought selling was a good idea. Perhaps the Ronald Acuña injury took the air out of that segment of the fanbase; that’s at least understandable, but those same people clearly weren’t paying attention to what was going on in New York. They were dealing with an equal amount of injury issues and had been playing miserable baseball for months. It was only a matter of time before they imploded, which they have over the last two weeks, and the Braves have taken advantage — mostly thanks to some key additions.
The Braves added five new faces in July. It started early when Anthopoulos moved promising prospect Bryce Ball for Joc Pederson right after the All-Star break. Pederson immediately provided a spark to the offense and hasn’t stopped since arriving, posting a .288 average with three homers and four doubles in 23 games with the Braves. However, the bulk of the reinforcements arrived on deadline day when Anthopoulos traded for Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, and Richard Rodriguez.
Rosario has yet to appear for the Braves yet; however, given that all the Braves had to give up to acquire him was Pablo Sandoval, there is no way this trade can possibly backfire. Rosario is set to begin his rehab work in the minors soon, and he should join the Braves in the coming weeks.
The other three have been everything the Braves could have asked for so far. Adam Duvall looks like a guy who never should have left Atlanta. He already has three homers and 10 runs batted in over 10 games since returning, but Jorge Soler has been even better. The man was hitting just .192 for Kansas City before the trade, but is hitting .344 with three bombs in nine games since becoming a Brave. These two additions, along with Joc Pederson, have led to a night and day difference in Atlanta’s offensive production, which has resulted in the team finally stringing together some wins.
However, not all the trade deadline acquisitions were offensive. The Braves were also desperate for bullpen help, and Richard Rodriguez has provided some stability in the later innings. He’s appeared six times thus far, but he’s yet to allow a run and has only let four baserunners reach. If he keeps this up, he may end up being the permanent closer on a team in a pennant race; I don’t think that is something Rodriguez ever would have expected when he began the season with the Pirates.
It’s unlikely these guys stay this hot for the rest of the season, but more than just production, their presence has brought belief to this team. From top to bottom in the lineup, the game can change with one swing of the bat. The Braves no longer have to feel screwed when they fall behind by a couple of runs early in the game; last night was a perfect example of that. The bullpen seems to have remembered how to shut the door, too. With these timely additions, the NL East has quickly become the Braves to lose again.
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