The Braves lack of action at the trade deadline has caused an uproar among the fan base, and deservedly so. Despite having one of the best offenses in the National League and a bullpen that can rival any in the majors, it will be nearly impossible for them to make a run at a World Series with the way their rotation is constructed. They are hoping that a few of their internal options will step up come the postseason, but that’s usually not the best way to go about business when you’re competing with teams like the Dodgers to come out of the National League.
Yesterday, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden released his trade deadline grades for all 30 teams, and unsurprisingly, the Braves moves, or lack thereof, were looked upon negatively, receiving a D. Here is an excerpt from Bowden’s piece:
The Braves were hamstrung from adding significant payroll, but was the decline in trade value of several of their prospects that held them back the most. Adding Tommy Milone to the back of their starting rotation might help them win some games against division lineups. However, for them to hold on to first place, they’re going to need rookie Ian Anderson to pitch like he did in his first start, Cole Hamels to return sometime in September, and someone like Kyle Wright or Mike Foltynewicz to step up in the heat of a pennant race down the stretch. Overall, a disappointing deadline for Atlanta.
For the most part, I agree with Bowden. It was undoubtedly a disappointing August 31st for the Braves — Alex Anthopoulos admitted it himself. However, I don’t think Atlanta needs all of that to happen to capture their third straight division title.
As things stand today, the Braves are three games ahead of the Marlins and Phillies for first place. And as I mentioned yesterday, Atlanta’s schedule lightens up significantly in September. Their remaining games versus the AL East are against the Orioles and Red Sox — two of the worst teams in baseball. They don’t have any matchups left with the Phillies, they play the Marlins — a club the Braves have dominated over the last two seasons — seven more times, and they face the last-place Nationals eight more times. As long as Ian Anderson continues to look like he did last night, the Braves should be considered the overwhelming favorites to win the NL East again.
That doesn’t mean Bowden’s point isn’t valid. If the Braves are going to make any noise in the postseason, all of the things he mentioned have to happen. Atlanta needs Ian Anderson to be a number two in the rotation, Cole Hamels to return, and another starting arm to step up. That’s a lot to ask for.
Judging by the reports of what the Rangers’ asking price was for Lance Lynn and what the Padres had to part ways with to acquire Mike Clevinger, I don’t blame Alex Anthopoulos for not pulling off a blockbuster trade. However, adding a couple of potential low-cost options with some upside would have been nice.