The Atlanta Braves still have, as of Wednesday afternoon, a negative record.
However, despite being below .500, their odds of making the playoffs are still considerable, given that the New York Mets are still within reach.
Here are three reasons why we shouldn’t count the Braves out of the race for a playoff spot.
3. They Are Really Close To The Division Lead
To say that the National League East division is the worst in baseball would be an understatement.
The Mets are currently in first place with a 55-51 record, by far the worst for a division leader.
After that, the Philadelphia Phillies (54-53) and the Braves (53-54) are still in contention, very close to the Mets.
The Braves are 2.5 games behind the top spot, and they still have plenty of time to stage a comeback.
The @Braves jump all over Lester, Fried with 6 innings of shutout ball and the Mets lost to Miami again.
ATL Just 2.5 back.
Philly in the mix too.
— MikeBell929 (@MikeBellATL) August 4, 2021
They will have to do it without their best player, by virtue of Ronald Acuna Jr.’s knee injury, but they have time, and they have the resources.
It’s evident that the Braves don’t see the Mets’ lead as conclusive evidence that the division is already decided, so they went for it and added at the deadline.
2. They Have Impressive Pitching Depth
The Braves have put together impressive pitching depth, so much so that they were able to afford trading Bryse Wilson for relief help in a year in which they are down several starters, such as Huascar Ynoa, Tucker Davidson, Ian Anderson, and Mike Soroka.
Charlie Morton has been as good as advertised (122 innings of a 3.69 ERA and a 3.48 Fielding Independent Pitching or FIP).
Ynoa and Anderson should return eventually to bolster the staff.
Soroka is out for the year, and Davidson’s status is unclear, but there is no denying that the Braves’ system has developed quite a few talented hurlers in the last couple of seasons.
The organization has also made some savvy free agent acquisitions, such as Morton and Smyly.
Even with the injuries, the Braves’ pitching shouldn’t be a problem in the stretch run.
1. They Have Freddie Freeman And He’s Heating Up
One of the reasons the Braves haven’t been able to fully take off in 2021 was Freddie Freeman’s slow start.
However, it seems that he is finding his stride at the right time for Atlanta to make a push for a spot in October.
His full-season line is up to .294/.396/.511 with 24 home runs and a .907 OPS.
The 2020 NL MVP has been on fire over his last 30 games, slashing .396/.481/.622 with seven homers, 17 runs, and 30 (!) runs scored.
He has picked up the slack since Acuna injured his knee and has become the dependable hitter we all know he is.
#Braves' Freddie Freeman has hit .400 with a a .491 OBP and 1.144 OPS in the past 26 games.
He's 38-for-95 with three doubles, seven homers, 15 RBIs and almost twice as many walks (16) as strikeouts (9) in that span of 124 plate appearances.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) August 4, 2021
As long as the Braves have a healthy and effective Freeman, they have a chance.