The Atlanta Braves have stumbled out of the gates in 2021. Braves fans were expecting to get to see their guys on their own field in the Mid-Summer Classic and the team winning their 4th straight NL East crown. The All-Star Game has been moved, but at the current rate, Atlanta only has 1 player who deserves an invite anyway.
In 11 games, the Braves have amassed a 4-7 record and sit 2 games behind the NL East leading Mets. Obviously, it is way too early to write off a team loaded with so much talent, but that talent has to start performing. Acuña is currently hitting .429 with 4 homeruns, but after him, the lineup drops off quickly. Freddie Freeman is hitting below the Mendoza line, but at least he is racking up the XBH. His 4 homeruns represent more than half of his, abysmal, 7 hits to this point in the season. Travis d’Arnaud might be the next player to get to double digit hits for the Braves as his .257 average makes him the only everyday player other than RAJ that isn’t fighting the Mendoza Line.
The young pitching that burst onto the scene last year has been a bit underwhelming to start this year. Max Fried owns an 11.45 ERA to this point and has just been placed on the 10-Day IL. Huascar Ynoa has been a pleasant surprise for the Braves, just 1 run allowed across his 2 starts and 1 relief appearance. I think nobody would have expected Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson to be the most reliable arms in the bullpen, but here we are. Will Smith and Sean Newcomb are a combined 3 for 3 in save opportunities, but Will Smith is also sitting on an 0-2 record in his 4 non-save opps. With 6 different guys accounting for the 7 losses this season, this doesn’t seem to be a “add 1 more piece” type of situation.
The best way to help out the bullpen is to give them run support. Starting the year in a slump is nothing new to baseball players but having just about the entire team in a slump is going to lead to a string of losses. Hopefully, some of the usually reliable bats in the lineup can shake off the rust and the Braves can go on a run. Over 93% of the season is still in front of this team so there is plenty of time to figure out the kinks. As of right now, however, the only hitter earning his paycheck is Ronald Acuña Jr.