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HomeSportsRonald Acuña’s season-ending harm means the trail to October simply received extra...

Ronald Acuña’s season-ending harm means the trail to October simply received extra difficult for the Braves


Let’s simply roll out of the gate right here with some fundamental numbers. In 2023, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley performed 159 video games for the Atlanta Braves. Ozzie Albies performed 148 video games. Sean Murphy performed 108 video games. Spencer Strider pitched probably the most innings of any Braves pitcher at 186.2 innings pitched. The Braves have been a juggernaut final season they usually have been a wholesome juggernaut, at that.

This season, occasions have modified and never in a great way for Atlanta in any respect. Sean Murphy opened up the season with an indirect harm that brought about him to overlook almost your entire first two months of the season. Ozzie Albies fractured his toe and was compelled to go on the IL consequently. Spencer Strider pitched a grand complete of 9 innings over two begins earlier than he suffered a season-ending elbow harm and now Ronald Acuña Jr. is about to overlook the remainder of this season after struggling a torn ACL in his left knee — simply three years after tearing the ACL in his proper knee.

For sure, the harm bug has lastly caught up with the Braves and is presently having fun with a gluttonous feast. The clear hope for Atlanta is that that is as dangerous because it’s going to get and that the worst just isn’t but to return. If that is, actually, the worst of it then the Braves nonetheless determine to be in good condition within the huge image. Heading into motion on Memorial Day, FanGraphs remains to be very bullish on the Braves — they’re presently being given a 97 p.c likelihood to make the Postseason in a roundabout way they usually nonetheless have the third-best odds (11.5 p.c, solely behind the Dodgers and Yankees) of finally being topped World Collection champions ultimately.

With that being mentioned, the street to October has instantly gotten a tiny bit extra difficult for the Braves. They’re in all probability not going to cruise to 100 wins anymore and what’s much more essential is that they’re not the clear favorites to win the division. As I discussed on this area final week, the Phillies have gotten off to an unbelievable begin and FanGraphs has tabbed Philadelphia as the present favorites to win the division at a 60 p.c likelihood. The Braves are nonetheless being given a 40 p.c likelihood, which signifies that it’s more likely to be a two-horse race, however that’s the operative phrase right here: It’s going to be a race and a severe one, at that.

That is nearly the one excellent news that there’s for the Braves in the intervening time. Even with out Spencer Strider and Ronald Acuña Jr., that is nonetheless a really, excellent baseball group and may nonetheless have their eyes on the Postseason and going far within the Postseason, at that. Regardless, it must be very irritating to lose arguably their greatest pitcher and indisputably their greatest participant for the remainder of the season. They nonetheless have a powerful pitching employees, as evidenced by the truth that the employees presently has the fifth-best ERA- in baseball (83) and the fifth-best FIP- (93) as nicely. Whereas the lineup has been in a little bit of a boom-or-bust mode just lately, it is nonetheless been sufficient for them to be comfortably within the high 10 of baseball relating to group wRC+ (109).

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves - Game One

Atlanta’s lineup nonetheless has loads of thump in it with out Ronald Acuña Jr.
Photograph by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Photographs

It additionally helps that issues ought to get simpler for the Braves relating to the schedule. There’s been loads of speak about how Philadelphia’s schedule has been very amenable for the primary couple of months of the season. Whereas the Braves have not been coping with a nightmarish schedule by any means, in addition they have their justifiable share of relative cupcakes left on the schedule. Heading into Memorial Day, the Braves have the eleventh-easiest schedule left and that features 20 video games in opposition to the likes of the White Sox, Marlins, Angels and A’s. That additionally contains 10 extra video games in opposition to the Phillies, as the 2 presumptive favorites within the NL East have not seen one another because the Braves took two out of three in Philadelphia to kick off the season.

These 30 video games would possibly find yourself being essential in the direction of deciding who wins the division and who does not and up to now, the Phillies have a leg up relating to beating up on the dangerous groups in baseball. The Braves will both should be simply nearly as good because the Phillies have been in opposition to dangerous groups or they should proceed to being a significant thorn in Philadelphia’s facet relating to head-to-head matchups this season. Each determine to be robust duties for Atlanta — Philadelphia has been completely deadly in opposition to the weaker groups on their schedule and the Braves must face Philadelphia with out having Strider or Acuña as energetic gamers going ahead this yr. It is fairly straightforward to see why the Phillies at the moment are the favorites because the Braves now have a really giant process on their fingers to make it seven-straight divisional titles.

With that in thoughts, if any group in baseball appears to relish a problem within the common season, it is the Braves. They famously gained the World Collection as an 88-win group in 2021 and did so after Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL in his proper knee in the midst of July. Their subsequent act in 2022 was to beat a ten.5 recreation deficit to the New York Mets as a way to win the final nice divisional pennant chase of the earlier Postseason format’s period they usually gained 104 video games in 2023 whereas principally solely having three dependable beginning pitchers for almost all of the season. Whereas it is definitely truthful to query the Braves relating to the Postseason after the inglorious exits that they suffered by the hands of the Phillies for the previous two seasons, this can be a group that is proven a masterful grasp of how one can win within the common season — it doesn’t matter what comes their means.

The harm problems with 2024 determine to be the following main problem for the Braves. They undoubtedly have the expertise to beat these woes and they need to nonetheless be an element within the Postseason as soon as October rolls round. Whether or not they’ll be NL East champions as soon as once more or a Wild Card group for the primary time in an extended whereas is definitely up for debate at this level. Both means, it is not all going to go Atlanta’s means this season and most significantly, this is hoping that Ronald Acuña Jr. could make one other profitable restoration from knee surgical procedure. He is achieved it earlier than and it is time for each the Braves and the game of baseball to hope that one of many greatest stars within the recreation can return to type sooner or later as soon as once more.

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