While the New York Mets did improve its roster a lot during the offseason, the Atlanta Braves were always considered a lock to fight for a postseason berth either as a divisional champion or a Wild Card team.
After all, the Braves won the NL East division in 2020 in convincing fashion with a 35-25 record, four games ahead of the second-place Miami Marlins.
However, in the outset of the 2021 campaign, the division as a whole doesn’t look particularly scary, and only two teams, the Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, are above .500 before Monday’s games.
The Braves are 19-21, two games behind the Mets.
Atlanta is obviously not playing to the top of its capabilities, and it’s fair to wonder: Will they make the playoffs considering they are under .500 in mid-May and the Mets look improved?
It’s hard to predict which teams will make the playoffs in 2021 or any given season, but the Braves will almost surely end up advancing to October baseball.
They have enough firepower to fight the division neck-to-neck with the Mets, and potentially the Phillies.
Mike Soroka had a setback with his surgically repaired Achilles and will have exploratory surgery to see what is wrong, #Braves manager Brian Snitker said. The renowned specialist who did the original surgery will do the exploratory procedurel next week at his clinic in Green Bay
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) May 12, 2021
But the current roster is good enough to qualify for the postseason.
The Braves Have Two Of The Game’s Brightest Stars
Freddie Freeman, the reigning 2020 National League MVP, is hitting .222/.349/.472, but he has 11 home runs and a healthy 15.7 walk rate.
As soon as Freeman finds his stroke, the wins should come in bunches for the Braves.
Few teams can brag about having two true superstars, and Atlanta has them in Freeman and outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr.
Acuna seems poised to pursue a 40-40 season in 2021, as he has 12 dingers and six stolen bases together with a formidable .300/.396/.646 batting line.
Acuña bomb #12!!
40/40 tracker – 12/6#ForTheA
— Ronald Acuña’s 40/40 tracker (12/6) (@StacyBenedik) May 13, 2021
If that isn’t enough, the Braves have another top slugger in Marcell Ozuna, one who is currently slumping (.217/.297/.350) but is capable of much, much bigger things (.338/.431/.636 and 18 home runs in 60 games last season).
How’s The Pitching?
Pitching-wise, the Braves may not have an ace in the mold of Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer or Shane Bieber, but they have several excellent arms that can lead the team into October baseball.
Perhaps the most important appearance in the Braves’ plans so far has been Huascar Ynoa, who has a 3.02 ERA in 44.2 innings, with a 27.9 percent strikeout rate.
Once the dust settles in, and struggling players get enough at-bats and inning to regain their rhythm, the Braves will be fighting for one of the best records in the National League.
Their current talent level, depth, and star power make it very likely that they will be among the teams that qualify for the 2021 MLB postseason.