The opening week has come and gone, and it finds the Atlanta Braves in pretty good shape as they head into their home opener.
When Spring Training started, the Braves were favored to repeat as National League East Champions. However, season ending injuries to Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, and Cory Gearrin—coupled with the departures of Eric O’Flaherty, Brian McCann, and Tim Hudson—changed the narrative. But after a (4-2) first week, which includes a series win over the Nationals, things aren’t as gloomy as they once were.
The Braves did exactly what I thought they would do: compete. I wasn’t naive in thinking the injuries were bad, but I wasn’t going to change my thoughts about this team because of a few early setbacks. This team can win the East again, and Alex Wood, Julio Teheran, and a still solid bullpen, showed you why.
In fact Wood (14 IP, 3 ER, 9 K’s, 1.29 ERA) continues to show that he’s ready to take the next step, joining Teheran and Minor, in forming a formidable front three in Atlanta’s rotation.
The lineup, on the other hand, remains a work in progress. While Dan Uggla’s offseason work is coming to fruition, and Chris Johnson is doing a solid job of rolling over his breakout 2013 campaign, BJ Upton continues to struggle. One has to wonder if he might need a platoon come May because his bat just isn’t there right now. Then there’s Jason Heyward.
Heyward had an outstanding spring, and played great in the Braves opening series, but then went 1-for-10 against Washington. He needs to get back on track if the Braves are going to continue rolling.
The first week gave us a good glimpse at the pitching, but lets hope the bats get going in week number two.