The Atlanta Braves came into the 2015 with little to no expectations, due to the major overhaul this roster took during the off-season. They haven’t listened to any of the “experts” has they have gotten off to a solid 6-3 start tied for first with the New York Mets.
How have they done it?
Good Starting pitching. Julio Tehran has been the ace they needed. He started the year 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He has set the tone to keep the offense in games and allow them to do their thing. Alex Wood has had a solid start as well going 1- 1 and a 3.86 ERA. He has had some trouble with pitch counts in the two games, but has been very solid and kept the team in the game. Shelby Miller the new comer, has made a good impression on his new team, with a 1-0 record and a 0.90 ERA. He has had trouble with the pitch count as well, but he has been a great addition to the rotation and is proving Jon Hart right in making the trade to get him. These 3 guys have been key to the solid start.
Outstanding Bullpen Work
After the stunning trade of Craig Kimbrel, this bullpen had even more pressure than ever and boy have they stepped up. Jason Grilli has filled in nicely as the closer recording 4 saves in 4 opportunities with a 2.25 ERA. I love his passion and fire, showing people that we can still win close ball games. Jim Jonson has looked like his old self with that 96 mph sinker. He has been in 5 games with a 1-0 record, 3 holds, 1 save and has yet to allow a run; knock on wood.
Its not just the veterans doing great work, rookies Cody Martin and Brandon Cunniff have put up great numbers. Martin is not a power guy toping out at 90 mph. In just 5 games he has struck out 11, giving up just 1 run and posting a 1.35 ERA. Cunniff has been equally impressive in 6 games, posting a 1.50 ERA. While the pen has been lights out thus far, the key will be for the starters to go deeper in ballgames so they will not be overworked throughout the year.
Aggressive base running and Great approaches
Baserunning has been a huge key for the Braves who are not expected to be a big home run team. It showed in the first game of the year when Eric Young JR scored the game winning run with the infield in. That play showed Braves will do anything and everything to score runs and are not afraid to get thrown out. It hasn’t been flashy, but it’s how they have won their games and I expect that to continue. The best stat of all is the fact the offense has only struck out 58 times in 9 games, which is 4 best in the MLB. It’s a great sign for this team, making Jon Hart look very smart right.
It is early, but this season couldn’t have gone any better with the keys being pitching, defense, and timely hitting. The keys moving forward, will be to fix the back end of the starting rotation if the struggles of Stults and Cahill continue. However, it’s early and the starters must go deeper in the ballgames to save the pen. This team has shown a lot of fire with the motto “Heart and Hustle”. It has been fun to watch, GO Braves!!!!!