Can the Atlanta Braves defy expectations and play their way into October? It’s looking like more and more of a possibility. A full two months into the season, they still find themselves in a playoff spot.
The Atlanta Braves are coming off of a season in which they went 72-90 and finished 3rd in the NL East. The Braves haven’t made the playoffs since the 2013 season, a year in which the Braves’ roster included Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, and Dan Uggla. Two months into the 2018 season, the Braves find themselves positioned for a season-long battle for the NL East with the juggernaut of the National League, the Washington Nationals.
The predominant view going into the season was that the Braves were still at least a year away from playoff contention. Few, however, could have expected such an explosive start to the season for the Braves.
This remarkable start has been fueled by Freddie Freeman‘s MVP-caliber numbers and Nick Markakis‘ surprising all-star worthy season. The emergence of Sean Newcomb and Mike Foltynewicz has helped to solidify the rotation as well, despite Julio Teheran‘s streaky start to the season.
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While it’s not wise to completely alter playoff predictions less than halfway through the season, the Braves’ performance thus far certainly warrants a reconsideration of who the best teams in the NL East are.
Can they sustain their current level of play?
There’s certainly reason to believe that the Braves can sustain their current level of play. In fact, they may even be able to improve.
The Braves’ 20-year-old phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. has proven valuable in left field. After a hot start to his career, he has cooled down tremendously. However, Acuna will likely make adjustments at the plate, allowing him to continue raising his average.
There’s also the possibility of the Atlanta Braves making a trade to improve at the deadline. That trade may be for a frontline starter. Alternatively, that trade may be for a third baseman, a position the Braves have room to improve on.
The playoffs are certainly a possibility for the Braves this year. Simply the fact that the Braves are in playoff contention should make for a fun second half of the season for Braves fans.