Atlanta Braves starting to look human amidst injury troubles

Apr 23, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson (28) takes out Houston Astros second baseman Mauricio Dubon (14) causing an error on a throw during the sixth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson (28) takes out Houston Astros second baseman Mauricio Dubon (14) causing an error on a throw during the sixth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Over the weekend, the Atlanta Braves went home to Truist Park and took on the Houston Astros. For the first time this season, the Braves have looked semi-human. It seemed that the injuries were finally starting to catch up to them.

Every game of the series was a quality start for the Braves … then the bullpen came in and things changed. With players like Collin McHugh and Raisel Iglesias being out, the Braves are putting certain arms on the mound in situations they usually avoid.

AJ Minter has been the main closer this year, which is not his usual role. Until this year, Minter has been a seventh- or eighth-inning man coming in and keeping leads where they are and setting up for the closer to come in and snatch a save.

With relief pitchers, it is important when they come in. There are different levels of pressure and different tactics a pitcher will use when they are in, and for pitchers to change these things is no simple thing. Minter has done well so far; through 11 games, the lefty has locked up four saves. Out of seven runs, five came from this series. This could be a fluke, or the switch is finally getting to him.

McHugh is the second arm that the Braves are missing. In his 3.2 innings of play, he has two strikeouts. Seeing 17 batters, he only gave up one run. When he returns, the Braves will see more production from the bullpen.

In the infield, things are not as simple as injuries. It will be great to have another bat when Orlando Arcia returns. Unlike in the bullpen, though, the Braves have been having massive success with the replacements at the position players.

Vaughn Grissom has come into the six-hole and shown flashes of great skill at the plate. With the way Arcia played before his injury, it is almost certain that he will be the starter again when he returns from his wrist fracture. On the other hand, it is hard to believe that Grissom will be sent back down to Triple-A with the way he has been playing.

After the shortstop, you move back to center field, and the position is missing Michael Harris II, who was seen in videos taking at-bats against Raisel Iglesias on Monday. Sam Hilliard has come in and been out of his mind. Even better, unlike Grissom, Hilliard has been flashing the leather in the outfield, just as if not better than what he has shown at the dish.

Hilliard is another Brave that got the call that showed up and showed out. Much like Grissom, it is hard to believe he will see Gwinnett again as long as he keeps pumping out hits. Anyone who has ever seen an MLB game knows Michael Harris II, a potential 30-30 candidate before the season began, will be back in center.

The question facing the Braves is simple: when starters come back, where should the players who stepped up go? Personally, I think it is worth a shot to slide Hilliard over to left field and have him and Grissom switch duties out there while having Travis d’Arnaud and Sean Murphy switch off DH and catching.

Going on a four-game losing streak is not the end of the world or even a cause for concern (as Monday’s win over Miami showed). The Astros series finally showed the Braves are genuinely human and, even though they have a ton of help coming in, having a laundry list of players on the injured list is not an easy task for any team.

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