We all know that the Braves have had some struggles this year, very few of them, but they’ve still had them. Particularly with the Washington Nationals, who Atlanta will visit for three games beginning Monday night at 6:05pm CT. You might ask ‘What are we going to do with the absence of Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis?” I might have your answer. Granted it was a small sample-size during the weekend series in Philadelphia, Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall could play huge roles in the absence of these two stars. Your next question might be ‘How in the world did we avoid Scherzer for two series?’ Mad Max, as he is known is dealing with a mid-back strain and wasn’t healthy enough for his Tuesday start as of Sunday. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be back until then. His status for Tuesday is a toss-up. A lot of you have been asking me this: “What would a series sweep over Washington mean for the Braves?” It’s simple. Granted the Braves split their most recent series with Washington in Atlanta, the Nationals didn’t game any ground in the standings. Which is a good thing in the case of the Braves. Sweeping Washington would mean seven straight games against the Nationals gaining any ground in the standings, which would be both a big boost for the Braves and a big blow for Washington.
June was in fact a month for the ages. During the month of June the Atlanta Braves (50-35) compiled a record of (20-8) after Sunday night’s 8-5 loss to the New York Mets. In the 28 games last month, the Braves clubbed a franchise-record 56 homers over the course of the calendar month. That surpassed the previous record of 55, set by the 2003 Braves in May of that year by one. The previous record stood for 16 seasons. Also in the sixth month of 2019, the Braves tabbed Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Soroka as 2019 National League All-Stars. Soroka and Acuña made Major League Baseball history when they were named to the team. As they are the first pair of players younger than 22-years-old, to be named to the same All-Star team in the same season. But that’s not all Acuña did in June. He will also be the eighth-youngest Brave to ever play in the Midsummer Classic at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on July 9th. Acuña launched the record-breaking 56th home run in June 437 feet into the orange Flushing, New York skyline. Ronald will also participate in the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby. It’s only fitting that he hit the record-breaking homer. A few weeks back I received a text from a family member asking who I thought would break the franchise-record. My response? Ronald Acuña Jr on June 30th. They seemed to disagree as they thought Vanderbilt alum Dansby Swanson would club the historic homer. I responded to them with “I don’t care who hits it, but I’ve got a feeling it’ll be Ronald Acuña Jr., but either way we’re breaking it.” Little did I know that my prediction would be absolutely spot-on. What a month June was. If June was a prelude into July, then what should we expect in the seventh month of 2019? The next Braves game is Tuesday, July 2, 2019 vs. Philadelphia at 7:20pm ET. The Phillies haven’t named a starter as of right now. Dallas Keuchel makes his third start in a Braves uniform on Tuesday.
Before Spring Training even started, MLB experts, were predicting the Atlanta Braves to be towards the bottom of the National League East, these critics may have thought of them as “cellar dwellers” or “bottom feeders”, pick a term at your own risk. Because so far in 2019, Atlanta has proven that it can in fact, step on the field with some of the league’s most potent offenses and more times than not, the Braves have had the last laugh at (46-32) on the year and a .590 winning percentage. According to Kevin McAlpin, with 680 The Fan, the Braves flagship radio station in the Atlanta, Georgia area, the Braves entered yesterday’s matinee rubber-match with the third-place Washington Nationals with a (45-32) record, that was identical to their 2018 record through 77 games but their National League East lead is two games ahead of where it was 365 days ago. I know, some of you will probably say the cliche “There’s a lot of games to be played.” Yes, I know this. Some of you have already said “They’ll collapse at the end like they always do, you’re not old enough to know that.” As a matter of fact, I am old enough to know what you’re talking about. I’ve seen it happen before and I’m not saying that it won’t happen again. But what I am saying is this. Atlanta is hungry to get back to the playoffs in 2019. Yes, they will lose a few more down the road but what playoff team doesn’t? If you don’t lose, you won’t know how to win. This team is looking to prove critics wrong and defend their NL East division title. Critics being both expert and ordinary. Yes, baseball season is in fact the longest in all of sports, but being the die-hard fan that I have been for 21 years and counting, I have faith in Atlanta. They could lose every game from here on out and I’d still love them. Their next game is Monday, June 24, 2019 at Chicago Cubs. Julio Teheran (5-5, 3.40) will get the ball for Atlanta while Jon Lester (6-5, 4.13) will take the mound for Chicago. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET.
Coming into the Braves’ most recent 10-game home-stand, Josh Donaldson, an Auburn alum, was seeming to have the veteran plate presence that he so often put on display during his time in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over the 10-game home stand, the Braves went 8-2 on the 10-game home stand. This is the first 8-2 home stand since 2012 when they went 8-2 against Philadelphia, Miami and Houston in August of that year. Donaldson, a former American League MVP, played a huge role in Atlanta’s most successful 10-game home stand since 2012. He found multiple ways to get to pitchers over those 10 games. His biggest impact came when he belted a two-run homer against the New York Mets. His homer was a key factor in the win and his bat was key all week long. He’s reassuring Braves fans that he is still the power source that he was in Toronto and he’s doing it in big ways. He isn’t called the “Bringer of Rain” for nothing and he proved that during this lengthy home stand. The Braves have Thursday off and will travel to Washington, D.C. to tangle with the Washington Nationals starting Friday, June 21, 2019. Dallas Keuchel will more than likely make his much-anticipated Braves debut on Friday while Washington will counter with Stephen Strasburg.
Coming into the season, everybody expected the Philadelphia Phillies to be a thorn in the NL East’s side. As people were anticipating them running away with the title in 2019. For most of the first few months of the season, the preseason expectations were right. Philadelphia seemed to be throwing around every team they played like rag dolls. Atlanta has spent much of this season as a mainstay in the second place slot in the division standings. In recent weeks however, the roles seemed to have been flipped as the Phillies are on a one game losing streak. Philadelphia is also 5-5 in their last 10 contests while the Braves have claimed the top spot in division standings after winning seven straight games and eight out of their last 10 games. This weekend’s three-game series at SunTrust Park in Atlanta could very well, set the tone for the remainder of the season. I know, it’s only June 14 but with things shaping up the way that they have been, it could see a two-team race between Atlanta and Philadelphia for the 2019 pennant. In my opinion, the other three teams have a long way to go. Especially the Miami Marlins who have gotten off to a horrid (24-42) start. This series is one to watch for sure. First pitch is at 7:20pm ET Philadelphia hands the ball to Nick Pivetta while Atlanta calls on Max Fried.