How the Atlanta Braves keep defying the odds

ATLANTA, GA SEPTEMBER 06: Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) watches his two run home run in the 7th inning during the MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves on September 6th, 2019 at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA SEPTEMBER 06: Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) watches his two run home run in the 7th inning during the MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves on September 6th, 2019 at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Are the Atlanta Braves over their heads?

If you ask the analytical crowd, then yes, and that bullpen is the first stop.

The Atlanta Braves had a very visible battle with finding reliable help in their bullpen, and despite some midseason additions at the Trade Deadline, Atlanta still sports one of the worst relief corps in all of baseball.

The closer situation became particularly volatile when Luke Jackson began to fade, and Shane Greene began to experience a regression from his earlier performance with Detroit.  Since then, Mark Melancon seems to have stabilized things on the back end, but questions still remain about the middle innings and high leverage situations.

The starting rotation is fine, although not necessarily remarkable outside of their young stud, Mike Soroka.  With an emphasis on ground ball pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Max Fried, the Braves have found ways to keep their opponents’ offense controlled, although not off the board completely.  A look at their run differential continues on that thread, showing a team that can score runs at an elite pace, but struggles to keep them from scoring.

  1. LA Dodgers (+242)
  2. Washington Nationals (+117)
  3. Chicago Cubs (+116)
  4. Atlanta Braves (+105)
  5. St. Louis Cardinals (+94)

So how are they doing it?  What’s the secret sauce?