With May almost in the books, it’s not too surprising to see the Atlanta Braves still in the driver’s seat in the NL East. The rest of this division just can’t seem to catch up, or get out of their own way long enough to make any significant gains.
It is, however, somewhat shocking to see that the Braves are hovering around just .500 for the month. With a 14-13 record through May games, the Braves haven’t been able to put any real distance between themselves and the rest of pack, and it doesn’t help matters that Max Fried and Kyle Wright have spent more time on the injured list than the mound. Fried hasn’t pitched since May 5, but at least has started working out with an eye towards throwing soon, while Wright on the other hand is on the 60-day IL, with no return timeline in sight.
Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder have taken the wheel for the Braves and pitched pretty well. The team is 8-3 in games that they have started this month. Strider struck out 57 batters in his 33.2 innings and leads all of Major League Baseball with 106 strikeouts on the season. Elder allowed just six earned runs across his five starts, and you can see how important these two are this staff. It doesn’t take a math major to figure out out that Atlanta was 6-10 with any other starting pitcher on the mound this month, and stats like that aren’t going to lead to sustained success. If a healthy Max Fried can get back on the bump and return to form, it changes the complexion of this Braves team as a whole, and gives them a trio of starting pitchers you’re not going to be to happy about seeing in a playoff series.
Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna led the team with nine homers a piece, while Ronald Acuña Jr. chipped in seven of his own. In fact, the Braves as a team continue to smack the cover off the ball, and their 49 team home runs over the last 30 days trails only the Yankees’ 50 for the most in baseball. Austin Riley is also starting to heat up, and is riding a nice little 12-game hitting streak to close out the month. Batting .344 with a 1.002 OPS in his last 16 games, he has four dingers and 10 RBI in that same span and, along with the rest of the bats in this lineup, should help keep the Braves treading water until they figure out that pitching situation.