Somehow, by God’s good graces, after being swept by the Red Sox the Braves obtained a 3 game lead over the Phillies in the NL East. The question on everyone’s mind right now is, are the Braves ready to take on the postseason? I think there is a high chance they do make it, but they do not make it far. Why? Well, the Red Sox series said everything about the type of team the Braves are. Yes, the Red Sox are the best team in baseball, and with their record, they are undeniably going to the playoffs. There were a lot of pros and cons in each of these games against the Red Sox that the Braves need to work on and try to replicate in upcoming games. The Red Sox series taught the team a lot. It taught them that this is the type of team they would be playing in the postseason, maybe even this team, and so this is what they need to be prepared for. My hope is that this Red Sox series was a good kick in the pants for the Braves to kick it into high gear and strap in for some tough teams ahead.
What was good about the Red Sox series:
- Battling at the plate – Everybody had great at-bats. The Braves made each of the pitchers throw more pitches, which in turn wore down the pitchers and got their pitch counts higher.
- Coming from behind – I loved seeing the enthusiasm and determination in the team to come back to tie the game or take the lead.
- Contribution and having fun – In every game, the whole team was contributing and they were having fun doing it, especially Ronald Acuna Jr.
But all those aspects don’t mean anything if you can’t perform in other places:
- Left too many men on base – If the Braves had been able to deliver on all the men that they left on base in this series, things would have turned out a lot different. Over the course of the three games with the Red Sox, the Braves left a total 30 men on base, which is an average of 10 men left on per game. If you total up and average the number of men left on base for all the games that they have played so far, its an average of 7 men left on base per game.
- Coming from behind…and not keeping the lead – This is a huge problem and a truly crushing disappointment. And it’s all because of the bullpen. Even AJ Minter was giving up runs, which is not something that is common with him. The Braves need the support of the bullpen if they want to get to the playoffs and win a championship. If you don’t have a bullpen that can keep your earned runs count, then it’s all for not.
- Errors – There were too many errors in the Red Sox series and that should not be happening at this stage of the season. The Braves had three errors across the series. It’s September, other teams are watching, they are looking for your weaknesses and they are going to take advantage of that.
The Braves have got a good team, but they keep making small mistakes that produce big problems. The talent is there for this team to be a World Series team, but I believe their stamina is the overarching theme that all the other problems stem from. They don’t have the endurance to keep going after they have been doing well. Maybe it’s a lack of experience or maybe they are just too young to keep up, I don’t know. All I know is that something is holding the Braves back and I think it’s their stamina and consistency and being able to reproduce what they have done well in the past. The bullpen will come out one series and be dominate and the next they get swept and allow seven runs. Sometimes every man on base scores a run, other times the bases get loaded 3 times and no one scores. It’s things like this that will be the Braves demise when it comes to the postseason if they don’t fix these problems soon.
I do believe that the trades and pick-ups that Alex Anthopoulos have executed this season have, for the most part, been beneficial to the team. The missing pieces the Brave had at the beginning of the season have been filled in slowly over the course of this season and is great, BUT what about all these little things that keep happening? These are things that cannot be fixed by just going out and getting another player. These are things that need to be fixed with a little more discipline and practice and that is something that I think will come with time as these young players grow.
The Braves have the team and the talent and even the fan support, but the formula is not right yet. Tonight, the Braves will be facing yet another team that is in the running for the playoffs, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks have a very similar record to the Braves this season with a 75-64 record this season. The next three series are going to be difficult and I hope that tonight that the Braves can start off this series with a win. They need that boost of confidence and they need to tighten up the loose screws they had against the Red Sox if they want to get to the end of September successfully.
What do you think the Braves need to work on in order to make it to the postseason?