2020 MLB Preview: Atlanta Braves

Is This The Year For Hotlanta Or Will It Be Another Chilly End Sans Playoff Series Win?

Is this the year the Atlanta Braves make it out of the National League Division Series? With first baseman Freddie Freeman and center fielder Ronald Acura Jr., they have a chance. Acuna Jr. can hit the ball out of the park or steal a bag. Once he learns how to run out every ball he’ll become a fan favorite too because he really is next-level talent worth watching. Freeman is on pace to have nearly 3,000 hits and 450 home runs if the second half of his career matches the first. He does everything well and hit .295 last year in spite of a frequent shift employed by opposing defenses. It’s no coincidence he had a career high in home runs with Josh Donaldson in the lineup. The loss of J-Dog to the Twins will be felt. Add second baseman Ozzie Albies and shortstop Dansby Swanson along with outfielders Marcell Ozuna (29 homers in 2019) and Nick Markakis (.285 average) and you have a pretty good top six. The bottom three could be made up of any of the three catchers they’ll carry, including William Contreras who is the younger brother of Wilson Contreras 

They have enough offense. They have enough defense. That leaves the pitching and it’s not all that impressive. They lost Julio Teheran and Dallas Keuchel. Mike Soroka is 23 and could be their ace for years to come, if 2019 (2.68 earned run average, 1.11 hits and walks per innings pitched) is any indication. Max Fried went 17-6 but the opposition hit .270 off of him. That’s not sustainable. Sean Newcomb started all of 2018 and relieved all of 2019. That’s a nice guy to have come playoff time. Mike Foltynewicz is a career fourth starter. Jhoulys Chacin isn’t right. After a career as a pretty reliable starter, he gave up six runs per nine innings with two teams in 2019 and couldn’t make the Twins squad this year.

Do they break the streak of eight NLDS losses? It’s likely if they draw a team like the Diamondbacks or other second place teams. Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals could all out-pitch them and send them home again. I don’t see more than 90 wins out of this group.

Coronavirus 60-game prediction: 29-31.

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