We’ve talked a lot about whether the Braves will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and it still may be up in the air. After All, Atlanta remains four games back with just a few days before the July 31st deadline. Still, based on what I’ve seen from this team since the All-Star break, there’s no reason the Braves shouldn’t be pushing the envelope and doing everything they can to be as competitive as possible for the stretch run. Here’s why.
The New York Mets are not a good baseball team
I’m just going to call a spade a spade. Be it for injuries or whatever, but the Mets are not a good baseball team. I fully believe they will finish the season around .500. I know that’s been a threshold the Braves haven’t been able to eclipse, but I don’t think that will be a problem with a big addition at the trade deadline. New York’s offense is abysmal; the Lindor signing was a massive mistake, and I just don’t buy them being good enough to shut the door on this division. The Braves are basically playing them right now with their AAAA team, and the Mets still can’t put them away. That should be a bright shining green light for Alex Anthopoulos heading into the trade deadline.
Huascar Ynoa, Ian Anderson, and Travis d’Arnaud are on their way back
Without doing anything, the Braves will get a huge boost over the next month from three of their best players returning to the field. Ynoa and d’Arnaud, who have been out for months, are set to begin their rehab assignments and should re-join the team in the coming weeks. And Anderson, who is dealing with a minor shoulder issue, isn’t too far behind them. Combine those three with some timely trade deadline additions, and the Braves should be an exponentially more complete team than they’ve been all season.
Austin Riley is a star
Without Ronald Acuña and Marcell Ozuna, people want to write off this Braves offense, and sometimes I can’t blame them. However, with one significant offensive addition to the outfield, this group can be pretty damn close to what it was last season, and a huge reason for that is Austin Riley. This is a guy who was a below-replacement-level player in 2019 and 2020. Now, he’s already accumulated 3.0 WAR. He’s hitting over .300 with 19 homers and a .977 OPS in his last 85 games, which is a large enough sample size to believe this is what we can expect the rest of the way. I’m not dumb enough to say Riley can replace Acuña. Nobody can do that, but it’s close enough to believe this offense can become a juggernaut again with Travis d’Arnaud back and one more addition at the trade deadline.
The Braves rotation is light years ahead of where it was last season
This year’s Braves team has holes but let’s not act like last year’s squad, which finished one win shy of the World Series, didn’t. The 2020 Braves had one of the worst rotations I had ever seen from a playoff team. Alex Anthopoulos made that his focus this past offseason, which has paid dividends. Charlie Morton looks like a Cy Young candidate, and Drew Smyly has really turned things around over the last couple of months. Add those two to Max Fried and Ian Anderson, and you have an extremely formidable top four. However, the best thing is… it doesn’t stop there. Huascar Ynoa, Kyle Muller, and Touki Toussaint have also been brilliant when asked to start. This is arguably the deepest group of starting pitchers in baseball, which can be a deadly weapon late in the season and into the playoffs.
Mets upcoming schedule
Not only do I believe the Mets aren’t a very good team, but their schedule gets brutal for a stretch in August. Beginning on August 13th, New York has to play 13 games in a row versus the Dodgers and Giants — who own the best two records in the National League. That’s a stretch the Braves should be able to take advantage of right before the final month of the season, especially if Atlanta adds at the deadline.
Baseball is a game of chance
I’ve heard many people say the Braves shouldn’t go for it because even if they win the division, they’ll get bounced in the first round. That very well may be the case, but it also might not be. If there’s any sport where a lesser-talented team can get hot at the end and win the whole thing, it’s baseball. The Dodgers, who are the favorites every season, only have one championship for a reason. Last year’s Braves team was far from infallible; they were just smoking hot at the right time. With a few tweaks and some luck, this team has a chance to win a World Series, and you can’t just punt away opportunities like that in this sport.
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