The Atlanta Braves went 35-25 and 19-11 at home in 2020 to win the NL East and move onto the playoffs. From there, the Braves scrapped their way into the NL Championship but ultimately lost to the Dodgers, 4-3, losing Game 7 by one run.
The starting rotation was a concern last season. Star pitcher Mike Soroka was injured early and Max Fried was sidelined in the middle of the season. But if the Braves rotation is healthy this time around, the Braves have an even better shot at making it to the World Series and winning it. The Braves were quick to help out their new rotation, adding veteran pitcher Charlie Morton to a one-year, $15 million deal. The Braves also acquired Drew Smyly and now believe they’re basically set for the season.
Soroka will return as the ace. Max Fried will pitch like an ace, Morton will be perfect in the middle of the rotation. And then the back-end starters include Drew Smyly and last year’s rookie pitcher Ian Anderson, who was incredible in the postseason. If this starting rotation stays healthy, they’ll be right near the top of the NL East and could potentially win it. The only rotation that might be better than the Braves going into the season will be the Mets, but currently, we’re not sure which players the Mets will acquire.
When it comes to hitting, it looks like the NL will welcome back pitchers hitting in 2021. In 2020, the Braves signed Marcell Ozuna for a one-year deal and he produced. They’re going to want to pay him whatever it takes to stay around. He hit 18 home runs and 56 runs batted in with a batting average of .338.
The Braves lineup was fantastic last season and has really developed into one of the better lineups in baseball. It’s filled with young talent and so much power. The lineup starts with young studs like Ronalds Acuna Jr and Ozzie Albies. Then you’ve got the NL Most Valuable Player in Freddie Freeman in the three spots. If the Braves are able to keep Ozuna, he’ll man the fourth spot. Travis d’Arnaud looked like a top hitting catcher last year and caught serious fire late last season. Dansby Swanson has shown off his glove and some pop at shortstop.
Also, you can’t forget last year’s rookie in Christian Pache, who made his playoff debut after Adam Duvall’s injury. This lineup is special and produced consistently last season. The starting rotation will be much better to start the season this year. They won’t have guys like Mike Foltynewicz getting started or Sean Newcomb continually struggling.
What I’ve loved most about the Braves is their bullpen. We’ll project the bullpen to keep Will Smith, Shane Green, Chris Martin, A.J. Minter and Josh Tomlin. There’s so much experience in the bullpen of guys who have closed games under pressure situations. The Braves will more than likely look to sign Ozuna before anyone else this off-season. The bullpen isn’t in need of extra arms but it absolutely never hurts. You can expect the Braves to start to build up their bullpen for this season.
The Braves were already contenders last year. They just need to find a way to beat the Dodgers (and now the Mets, who will be spending this off-season.) Getting Morton and Smyly for the rotation and building around a solid core of Soroka, Fried, and Anderson will be crucial for the Braves. They’ve got a great, consistent group of players in that rotation along with a very dangerous lineup. On top of that, the bullpen is experienced, especially in high-pressure situations and the bench has a little bit of everything with pop, power, contact and a little speed.
It surely won’t be easy for the Braves but the reality is, most teams can’t spend that much money this off-season because teams didn’t make any money. The only threat would be the Mets because they’ve got a new owner. What we saw last year is basically what we’ll see this year. The Braves last year, we’re a World Series contending team and can absolutely make it this season if all goes right.
Currently, the Braves are +900 to win the World Series at the best sportsbooks such as BetOnline (visit our BetOnline review), which is third on their list and second in the NL. They’re expected to be back in the NL Championship game. If they don’t get there, the front office will deem the season bust.