The Braves finished June with a 21-6 record, including a 14-game win streak, and now sit just 2.5 games back of the division-leading Mets. The club has completely turned things around after starting the season sluggishly. The emergence of Michael Harris II could probably be pointed to as the most significant catalyst for the team’s recent success, but the roster still has holes.
The Braves could use several additions as the trade deadline approaches, but many of the holes will be filled by their own players coming off the Injured List. Still, if there’s anything Braves Country has learned about Alex Anthopoulos, it’s that he never rests on his laurels and will always look to upgrade the roster. He has already stated that the Braves could use another left-handed bat, but what is the team’s most pressing need approaching the trade deadline?
1. Right-Handed Reliever
The Braves’ bullpen has been exceptional for most of the season but has recently hit some bumps in the road. Most of the Arm Barn’s downturn can be chalked up to injuries because the relievers who have stepped in haven’t been great.
Darren O’Day is 39 years old and is starting to look like it. Despite being a fantastic pitcher for a long time, he’s recorded a 4.58 ERA to go along with a 1.358 WHIP on the season. Jackson Stephens had some Braves fans thinking he could be the next Tyler Matzek, but has regressed toward the mean as of late, recording a 7.00 ERA over his last eight appearances.
Kenley Jansen is currently on the IL, Matzek and Jay Jackson are working their way back, and Kirby Yates should return sometime in the second half of the season. Still, the unit could use some bolstering as we’ve seen injuries ripple through.
2. Left-Handed Bat
AA has been outspoken about adding another lefty in the lineup, but Eddie Rosario is nearing a return to Atlanta. Last year’s NLCS MVP has been rehabbing in Gwinnett, and on Wednesday he went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Since joining the Stripers, Rosario is 5-for-18, so we could see him back in the lineup very soon since the eye issue doesn’t exactly warrant caution for re-injury.
Still, the Braves could use another lefty to platoon with Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall, who have been downright terrible. Ozuna is currently slashing .226/.282/.406 with a .688 OPS, 14 homers, and 32 RBIs. Duvall has been flirty with the Mendoza Line for the entire season, but he’s been starting to hit more homers, and at least his defense is a plus; Ozuna has become almost unplayable in the field.
The Braves could add a number of lefties too, which you can read about in our trade targets series.
3. Starting Pitcher
The Braves could add a starter, and who could blame them? Ian Anderson has been shaky, at best, this season. And last week’s throttling at the hands of the Phillies is the latest poor outing. Anderson was only able to make it through 2.0 innings, surrendering seven hits and as many runs, including a homer. His unsightly 5.33 ERA has prompted some to float the idea of Kyle Muller taking his spot in the rotation the next time around.
But the Braves still have Tucker Davidson and Huascar Ynoa on the farm if Muller and Anderson both struggle. The fact is the Braves aren’t going to trade for a starter unless it’s someone of Luis Castillo‘s caliber because the fifth spot in the rotation has more than enough competition. It’ll most likely be Anderson, but Muller, Davidson, and Ynoa could all give it a run if things continue to slide for the 24-year-old.
Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire