Prior to opening day, many fans and analysts thought this would be the Braves’ year to win the World Series. The Atlanta Braves made it all the way to the National League Championship Series, had a 3-1 lead, but were knocked out by the Dodgers in Game 7. With the recent passing of Hank Aaron, along with how far they made it last year, the Braves want a poetic finish to this season.
The Atlanta Braves have fallen on tough times. These past few months, they have battled several injuries and endured a serious player transgression during the first half of the 2021 season. Setbacks like this have delayed their inevitable success this year. The Atlanta Braves are currently 30-35, and in third place in the NL East division.
Marcel Ozuna’s domestic violence arrest was a shock to Braves Country. The smiling, goofy left fielder that we all saw in the outfield had a dark side. Ozuna was found by Sandy Springs police strangling his wife in their home. The front door was open. When police announced themselves, Marcel Ozuna threw her against the wall.
Prior to opening day, Ozuna signed a 4 year, $65 million contract extension with the Atlanta Braves. Ozuna is currently out on a $20,000 bond as he awaits trial, and the Braves currently have him on the injured list for two broken fingers. It’s safe to say he will not be returning to the Braves organization after this incident.
Injuries have been plentiful in Atlanta, especially for pitchers. Most notable is the injury Mike Soroka suffered last season. Mike Soroka tore his right Achilles tendon and has been out since August 3rd of 2020. Manager Brian Snitker said the young ace will miss the remainder of the 2021 season while he recovers. Additionally, SP Huascar Ynoa is listed on the IL until approximately August due to a fractured hand.
Also on the injured list, Travis d’Arnaud suffered a serious thumb injury last month that has him sidelined for 60 days. d’Arnaud has been replaced by William Contreras, who has hit well since taking d’Arnaud’s place. Coming off the bench to hit 6 HRs with a BA of .231 in 32 games is impressive.
CF Cristian Pache was also injured earlier this season. He was sent to the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers because his bat went cold early this season. Since he recovered, I would love to see the Braves bring him back up to the majors. Pache is a great defender and very fast. It’s clear that Pache is the future of the Braves, however, he is simply too hot & cold hitting in the major leagues. He’s not ready yet, but he is very close to being a star center fielder for the Braves.
Baseball is all about getting hot at the right time. The Braves are currently 4 games under .500 and 5 games out of first place. If they can beat St Louis and the Mets in the upcoming series, they could be very close to leading the division.
Below is a look at the NL East standings as of June 18, 2021.
- Mets (35-26)
- Phillies (33-33)
- Braves (31-35)
- Nationals (30-35)
- Marlins (29-39)
A weaker division this year, the National League East division will be a short ladder for Atlanta to climb. With how poor each team in the NL East has performed to date, the Braves will have to win the division outright to make the playoffs. The Braves have a 4-game series with the Mets starting June 21. If they can take 2-3 games from New York, that will put them in a good position to take the division.
Atlanta has all the pieces to win the NL East for the 4th year in a row. Acuna Jr. is playing like an MVP level, and Freddie Freeman is still hitting well this year. Even without Ozuna, Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr, and Abraham Almonte can all hit dingers for the Braves. Austin Riley has also performed at an all-star level all season.
The Braves (31-35) will win the NL East.