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Is 2019 The Braves Year?

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Is 2019 The Braves Year?

World Series Odds: (+1400) at Bet365

National League Pennant Odds: (+750) at Bet365

Season Win Total: (84) at Caesar’s Palace

Josh Donaldson Signing

The whole season last year the Braves were devoid of a consistent middle of the order bat. Some were worried they weren’t going to find it either in this free agent market of aging sluggers. There was also concern that the Braves might have to give up on some of their young core to acquire that cleanup hitter.

However, Josh Donaldson agreed to a one-year “prove it,’ deal with the team and he might be the piece missing from this Braves batting order.

If Donaldson can stay healthy and regain much of his form, this lineup has gone from dangerous to downright filthy. It wasn’t long ago that Donaldson was slugging 30-to-40 homers in a season and driving in 100 runs.

Those days could in fact be gone, but even 25 home runs and 85 RBI would be a win for this club, despite the $23 million price tag. Donaldson will still have a good on base percentage regardless if his power numbers take a dip, so he should provide some nice protection in this Braves lineup. It could be a win-win for both clubs if Donaldson ends up bouncing back bigger than expected.

Young Core

Easily the Braves’ best asset is their young core, led by the NL Rookie of the Year, Ronald Acuna Jr. Along with Johan Camargo and Ozzie Albies, these three players represent the future of this club.

If all three take another big leap forward in 2019, this team is not only the favorite to win the NL East, they could become the favorite to win the entire National League. Imagine if they re-sign Nick Markakis too? This team has the ability to go far if the vets stay solid and the young guys take another leap.

With that in mind, the Braves probably have the most upside of any NL team not named the Dodgers. I know the NL Central is still stacked with talent and it’s hard to handicap MLB future odds in January. The Braves also have one question mark left, their pitching.

Pitching Prospects or Starting Pitchers?

Outside of Julio Teheran the Braves have some solid pitching options, but they come with some question marks. Can Mike Foltynewicz come back after a successful season and do it again? Will Sean Newcomb be able to be that next Braves breakout starter?

If Kevin Gausman is providing quality innings, the questions really only lie in what young prospect will fill the fifth starter role for the Braves. If Gausman struggles, the Braves could be in a position where they feel they need to trade for a starting pitcher, or throw a couple of their prospects to the wolves to start the season.

Mike Soroka should be the steadiest arm of the young starters in the Braves’ control, but keep an eye out for Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson as well. Touki Toussaint got some run last season too, but I suspect the other three guys would get shots before he gets another one.

Finally, the bullpen for the Braves is solid, but they could use another piece as well. If they can get a closer to accept a good deal, that could be the only thing keeping this bullpen from top 10 success in 2019.

Conclusion

The Braves are currently behind the Dodgers, Cubs, and Brewers in the National League future odds from bet365, but they might end up the season better than both NL Central clubs. The East is better but still not that great this season and with the Central clubs beating up on one another all season, it could help the Braves get a favorable playoff position.

At +750 to win the NL, it’s a wager that is growing on me, but I think I’d rather take a shot on the over with their season win total. It might become an even better bet if the Braves make an unexpected splash and sign Bryce Harper or trade for a guy like Madison Bumgarner.