MLB trade deadline: Atlanta Braves coast as they await pitching help

Jul 16, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starter pitcher Kolby Allard (49) pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 16, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starter pitcher Kolby Allard (49) pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Braves raced across the finish line of the season’s first half as the best team in baseball. The Braves entered the All-Star break on a record-setting home run streak, continuing their path to setting a new overall season record in the category and further proving their dominance. However, the club has lost seven of its last 10 games with just a few weeks of the second half behind us. So what is going on with the juggernaut Braves?

Atlanta rode the wave of a power outburst through the season’s first half and continues to trend toward record-setting offensive numbers. Currently, the Braves sit atop the field in total offense, leading the league in home runs and slugging percentage. Atlanta has tallied 188 home runs entering play this weekend. The next closest team in the long ball category is the Los Angeles Dodgers (with 166).

While the Atlanta Braves recorded a few lackluster offensive performances during the last few weeks, the overall issue is not offensive output. Brian Snitker’s club has struggled with pitching injuries all season, with the effects mounting more recently. The performances of Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder exceeded expectations during the first half while the team was without Max Fried and Kyle Wright. However, the young duo ran into trouble in their last few outings, increasing the pressure on the offense. Additionally, the Braves are currently without the production of A.J. Minter, Dylan Lee, Jesse Chavez, Nick Anderson, and Kolby Allard. Except for Allard, who made his season debut in late June, the remainder of the injuries involve key arms that anchored the bullpen during the first half.

The pitching situation looks grim for the Atlanta Braves, but help is on the way.

Both Max Fried and Kyle Wright are expected to return in August, gifting the Braves’ rotation some much-needed reinforcement. Regarding the bullpen, a few key pieces are on the mend. A.J. Minter tossed a scoreless inning for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday, July 25. Minter will likely rejoin the Braves bullpen within the next week. Additionally, Dylan Lee is throwing in bullpen sessions and progressing toward live action. The injuries to Anderson and Chavez continue to linger, likely extending their IL stints to September or later.

As expected, the Braves quickly proclaimed themselves as buyers as the trade deadline approached. Atlanta acquired relievers Pierce Johnson and Taylor Hearn on July 24 to address bullpen needs. According to Braves beat writer Mark Bowman, the acquisitions equip the Braves with a right-handed power arm and a situational lefty.

It will be interesting to see how the Braves and general manager Alex Anthopoulos approach the final days before the trade deadline. The club can use some additional pitching depth due to postseason aspirations. Additionally, the Braves may look to refresh the situation in left field and designated hitter. The production of Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario has been streaky this season. It is rumored the Braves want to reunite with Red Sox outfielder Adam Duvall. Additionally, the club recently resigned Travis d’Arnaud for another year. d’Arnaud’s extension could mean the club foresees more designated hitter opportunities in his future, thus creating a chance to deal Ozuna or Rosario.

While Atlanta’s top pitchers get healthy and the front office decides how to handle the trade deadline, the Braves must continue to coast on the field. The club holds a 10-game lead in the division and a three-game lead over the Orioles as the best overall team. The Braves are far from hitting the panic button, and some quick pitching reinforcements can help the club start to streak again.

Next. Why this rumored Braves trade simply won't happen. dark