This may seem like an inappropriately-timed post considering we just won 8-0, and we just extended one of the best young players in baseball for up to 10 years if we’d like. But we’re not as bad as the team that got swept, and we’re not as good as the team that beat the Cubs — a clear contender in the NL Central — by 8 runs.
But the Braves will probably have a losing record at the end of April. And they may even be as far back as 4th. Shoot, if Miami gets a bug, they could be 5th. And that’s the result of injuries, auditions, and schedule. And I’m sure fans will overreact. They don’t remember that we were 10-13 last July, but if you’re 10-13 to start the season…
The Braves are essentially missing their top 2 starting pitchers — make no mistake, Gausman is probably our second-best starter — and in some ways, their top 3 relievers. With Minter and O’Day completely out, and Vizcaino heavily limited, that is incredibly damning in the short-term. Even when these guys return, do you expect them to be at their peak performance? I don’t.
And on top of that, the Braves are giving guys opportunities that will inevitably fail. Matt Joyce will strike out with the bases loaded in the 6th when they could have hit Charlie Culberson. But Culberson has 1 AB, and Joyce has 4. That tells me that Joyce is getting an audition. Same with Luke Jackson, Josh Tomlin, and even some guys with options. Some will fail, and that may cost us games.
And the schedule is really difficult too. We play 3 games against Miami, the only true non-contender, this month. Padres and Reds may not be contenders, and there are 5 games against them. Everyone else (19 total against COL, NYM, CHC, ARI, and CLE) can be correctly described as a contender right now. That’s a tough schedule. I stand by my prediction of 93 wins, and I think we have a losing record at the end of April.