Every team should be as lucky as the Atlanta Braves.
It’s late July and the Braves are still in first place in the National League East. Atlanta has two of the best young pitchers in all of baseball with 21-year-old right-hander Mike Soroka and 25-year-old left-hander Max Fried.
Soroka and Fried have a combined record of 20-6. Atlanta also has one of the more undervalued relief pitchers in the game with 27-year-old Luke Jackson. The lefty is pulling his weight with 17 saves, a 52 record and an earned run average of 3.12.
Atlanta also has one of the most lethal lineups in the National League with five players batting .274 or better. Putting the wood on the leather for the Braves is the hard hitting group of Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna, Jr., Ozzie Albies, Nick Markakis and catcher Brian McCann.
The Braves have another level swinger with backup Charlie Culberson, who is hitting .319 off the Atlanta bench. Culberson has eight extra base hits and 15 RBI’s – most of them in a reserve role.
Atlanta also has a third baseman, Josh Donaldson, with 23 home runs. The Braves have a lanky shortstop, Dansby Swanson, as well with some pop in his bat. Swanson, at 6-foot-1, is lumbering around the bases with 21 doubles, 17 home runs and 57 RBI’s.
So why are the Braves stressing out? Why is Atlanta panicking with the division lead in hand and a team full of raw talent?
The Braves are concerned because they might have already played their best baseball of the season. Atlanta’s division lead is dwindling. The Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies are closing in on the Braves.
Atlanta will face their rivals multiple times between now and the end of the regular season. The Braves have a brutal final month of the season in September. The division race is far from over in the National League East.
For the Braves, the Nationals, and the Phillies the dog days of summer are heating up. Atlanta is looking for its lost mojo. The Braves are trying to get back on the winning track.
The pressure is on for Atlanta. The Braves are going to have to earn the division title. The nerves are here to stay, along with the queasy stomachs.
Pain is a part of the game, along with the high fives.
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Chris Fernsler Sports Writer