If we still can’t be certain how good the Braves are this season, at least this much seems clear: They know how to bank victories against the teams they’re supposed to.
Just did a little calculating before tonight’s game against Pittsburgh. The Braves are 15-4 against the bottom six teams in the National League. That includes the Pirates (3-1), Florida (2-1), Chicago (2-1), Milwaukee (3-0)., Arizona (2-1) and Houston (3-0).
Against the others? Not so great.
Just subtract 15-4 from the Braves’ overall record of 26-22 and you’re left with an 11-18 record against the other teams. This is noteworthy because after finishing this series against Pittsburgh, the Braves play 14 of their next 17 games against Philadelphia (27-20), Los Angeles (27-21), Minnesota (28-20) and Tampa Bay (33-16).
In short, we will get a much better feel for the Braves’ postseason chances by mid-June when that difficult run is complete. This is likely to be central to an expanded column that I work on later.
General manager Frank Wren said he believes the 11-18 record is overstated because of the Braves’ early offensive problems during a nine-game losing streak. But he doesn’t completely discount it.
“I think part of that is skewed because when we were going through that nine-game losing streak we were playing the best teams,” he said. “We were just not playing very good baseball. But I think we match up well with teams. If we’re going to have a good season, we’re going to have to play well against those teams as well, and I think we will.”
Moving Martin Prado to leadoff and Jason Heyward to the two hole obviously has helped the lineup. In the last nine games, the team has scored 54 runs, an average of 6.0 per game. They shouldn’t take a step back tonight. Pirates starter Brian Burres has an earned run average of 5.40. In his last three starts, he has lasted only a combined 13 2/3 innings, allowing 14 runs (12 earned) and 19 hits.
So how do you feel about the Braves right now? Are you comfortable with their lineup as it stands?
I’ll be blogging live if you’re not too busy grilling to ask questions.