Another series, another sweep. After a five-game winning streak for the Braves capped earlier this week, it has been quite the rocky road since. Dropping the series finale today in Philadelphia to the Phillies, the Braves’ current losing streak stretched to 6 games. While staying competitive in almost every game, continued offensive struggles and a battered bullpen have been the underlying factors during the current stretch.
During this six-game stretch, the pitching staff gave up a total of 33 runs with the bullpen allowing 11. While a 5.5 ERA over that stretch might not seem like the worst stat in the book, it is when you factor in a 2.5 runs/game average scored by the Braves over that stretch (15 runs total). Other than the 7-run outburst Teheran allowed Wednesday to the Nationals, the starters have been without a doubt pitching well enough to get wins. This is a trend Braves fans have come to know all too well.
While you can throw frustration the way of the pitching staff over the current 6-game skid, as I stated in a recent article, the offensive ineptitude continues to doom the Braves. A 2.5 run/game average absolutely cannot continue. I understand it’s early in the season, but at some point, someone other than Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp have to be an offensive threat. It’s a struggle to find someone that fits that bill as of today. Other than Freeman, Kemp, and Brandon Phillips, who currently boast a combined .352 average, the rest of the positional starters are posting an underwhelming .210 average thus far. Before today’s games, the Braves ranked in the bottom 10 in MLB in runs scored (24th). A ranking that should only drop after another abysmal display scoring a total of 2 runs in their loss to the Phillies.
As long as the offensive misery continues, that’s only going to make the pitching staff’s job harder and harder. It’s a chain reaction: the starters know that they can more than likely only give up 3 or 4 runs max per outing given the current run production. That’s a recipe for disaster. As John Smoltz famously likes to say, “stress” pitches need to be kept to a minimum. I imagine those “stress” pitches are starting at pitch one nowadays given the lack of run support. This chain reaction continues to the bullpen, and the same can be said for them in regards to “stress” pitches even though they should be more accustomed to pitching in stressful situations.
As I stated previously, it’s early in the season. But a 6-12 start is most definitely a cause for concern. And at some point, given the Braves #1 farm system, top prospects names are going to start being mentioned for call-ups. I know it’s too early for that talk currently, but as we enter the summer months, if the Braves struggles are still prevalent, rest assured names like Ozhaino Albies, Sean Newcomb, Rio Ruiz, AJ Minter, and Max Fried (to name a few) WILL all be talked about making those anticipated call-ups. But, let’s take a breath and hope the amount of veteran presence on this team helps pick them back up to winning ways.