ATLANTA— As we are now past the All-Star break and moving into what should be a very exciting second half, I am handicapping my Braves. And the truth is, with their current team, they don’t have a shot.
The Phillies, despite a mid-June stumble that included a 3 game sweep at Atlanta, have now won 7 in a row and have taken a rather commanding 6 game lead in the National League East. Despite a mediocre pitching rotation and a disappointing first half by Cole Hamels, that team has a ridiculous line-up, with four guys already over 20 homeruns for the season. They are one of the few teams with an offense that can overcome bad pitching. I just don’t see anyone in the East overtaking them.
On the contrary, the Braves are virtually all-pitching, no stick. There is a good chance they will not have even one batter hit 20 homeruns or drive in 100 runs for the season. They may not have a regular hit over .300. This is particularly troubling given that they don’t have much speed or capacity to manufacture runs.
With the Phillies ahead of them in the East and with some strong Wild Card contenders elsewhere (particularly the San Francisco Giants), my guess is, we will be seeing the Braves bouncing around between second and fourth place much of the rest of the year with no real shot at the play-offs.
Dissappointing, but not unexpected.
The major benefit for this year is that it will provide a low-key opportunity for Tommy Hanson to get some real-time, big league experience. He has been phenomenal in his first few starts this year. Between him and Jurjjens, I am excited for the first time in years about the future of our starting rotation.
I think we are in the process of slowly putting together a winning team.
Just not this year.