This year’s results similar to last year’s with 100 games remaining
With 100 games remaining this season, the Braves are one game behind the pace they set a year ago. Of course a year ago at this time, they were sitting at the top of the National League East standings and creating plenty of reason for optimism.
While gathering nearly the same results this year, the Braves have not lived up to expectations. Still as they sit just three games behind the Phillies in the National League East standings and one game behind the Brewers in the Wild Card race, there is a sense that this team is capable of making the kind of second-half tear that the Phillies enjoyed last year.
Long before notching an NL-best 97 victories and winning the NL East by six games last year, the Phillies possessed a 32-30 record. Through this year’s first 62 games, the Braves have gone 34-28.
This isn’t to say the Braves are going to overtake the Phillies, who have overcome many significant injuries to produce the game’s best record so far this season. Instead, this comparison was made to simply remind you that Philadelphia fans were feeling some of the same disappointment you’ve battled as the Braves have struggled to find consistency the past few weeks.
Through their first 62 games this year, the Braves have batted .241 with 60 homers and a .689 OPS. They have averaged 3.8 runs per game. Their pitchers have posted a 2.99 ERA and allowed an average of 3.3 runs per game.
Through their first 62 games last year, they batted.260 with 47 homers and a .741 OPS. They averaged 4.9 runs per game. Their pitchers posted a 3.77 ERA and surrendered 4.0 runs per game at this point last year.
So the pitching staff has proven to be much better and the offense has proven to be much more disappointing. I know you didn’t need this numbers to confirm this.
Nor did you need me to remind you that things would be much different if Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla had not been such non factors during the season’s first nine weeks.
A return to Miami has not seemingly been the remedy Uggla is seeking to end his offensive struggles. He has recorded one hit in his first eight at-bats of this week’s series against the Marlins. Unfortunately while going 1-for-5 in last night’s 10-inning victory, he faced the embarrassing reality that the output was good enough to keep his batting average at .170.
Fortunately, it sounds like Heyward might be able to return by the time next weekend arrives. Freddie Freeman talked to him earlier this week and gained the sense that the young right fielder’s shoulder is feeling much better.
“He’s been pretty down about his shoulder since the start of Spring Training,” Freeman said. “This is the first time I’ve heard something positive come out of his mouth about it since then. I’m encouraged and I think he is. We need him. He’s a force. A healthy Jason Heyward, watch out.” <p>
With a healthy Heyward, some of you might be able to watch games without some of the stress that has been present the past couple weeks. The Braves played their Major League-high 13th extra-inning game while improving to 12-11 in one-run games last night.
Last night was also the seventh extra-inning game the Braves have played in their past 19 games. They have won five of those seven most recent extra-inning contests. <p>
Once Craig Kimbrel blew a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth last night, the Braves rebounded in the 10th inning and manged to score more than two runs for just the eighth time in their past 17 games.
The Braves have scored two runs or fewer 22 times this year, one more than the Phillies. The other NL teams to do so more often are the Padres (28, 3-25), Dodgers (27, 3-24), Giants (23, 5-18) and Nationals (23, 4-19).
Maybe it will help relieve some of the late-inning stress you have felt on a nightly basis to know the Braves have posted the NL’s best winning percentage .272 (6-16) while scoring two runs or fewer this year.