The Athletic names Braves biggest concern ahead of playoffs

MLB: JUN 07 Mets at Braves

The Braves have been the best team in Major League Baseball from start to finish, powered by their historic offense. They have a chance to become the first team ever to have a team slugging percentage over .500. They are also just four home runs away from breaking the major-league record for home runs in a season, set by the 2019 Twins.

Offenses over the years have been compared to the legendary 1927 Yankees lineup, but nobody has really compared… until now. The Braves might have the best offense in MLB history, but will that alone be enough to carry them to a second World Series title in three years?

As October approaches, the concerns surrounding Atlanta’s pitching have grown louder and louder, which is what Jim Bowden of The Athletic discussed when analyzing the biggest question marks of each postseason contender.

Braves — How will the injuries to Max Fried and Charlie Morton affect them in the Division Series?

(102-56; +232 run differential; clinched division)

The Braves have the best team in MLB and it’s really not debatable. They rank first in the majors in runs, home runs and OPS on the offensive side and first in the NL in strikeouts on the pitching side. They have a plus or plus-plus defender at every position except left field. However, Fried and Morton, two of their top three starting pitchers, have injuries that can’t be ignored. Fried is dealing with a blister on the index finger of his left (throwing) hand. Morton has right index finger inflammation and will miss the Division Series. And remember, even though the Braves are a juggernaut, the team with the best regular-season record often doesn’t win the World Series, as anything can happen in a short postseason series.

Max Fried is expected to be ready for the NLDS, but only time will tell if that blister will still be affecting him when he toes the rubber, whether it be in Game 1 or 2. Charlie Morton has already been ruled out for the NLDS with a right index finger sprain, leaving the Braves with a decision to make in regards to their Game 3 starter.

However, I would argue the Braves’ entire pitching staff is the concern when talking about October baseball. The starting pitching will be the primary discussion leading up to the NLDS, but this bullpen also has to step up in a big way in the playoffs. They’ve done so in the regular season, but October is a different beast, and the Braves bullpen leaves some to be desired when it comes to high-powered arms and their middle relievers. This is an unbelievable team that has accomplished incredible feats during the regular season, but they are far from unbeatable.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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