Five Reasons Atlanta Braves Will Still Win NL East in 2021
4. Progression to the Mean
While the bullpen has underperformed compared to the standards that were set the past couple of years, it has only been 92 games. Some players are putting up unusual statistics that could correct themselves by the end of the season.
As an example, look at Freddie Freeman’s early struggles and how – as most of us expected – his numbers look more and more like his numbers every day.
Chris Martin’s 3.97 ERA is a little high for what we’ve come to expect from the reliever over the past few seasons. Between 2019-2020, Martin posted a 2.81 ERA and walked just eight batters in 73.2 innings pitched.
Martin has been limited by injuries this season and has only seen 22.2 innings of action. While he has walked just four batters on the season, that is a higher number than what we are used to seeing from the right-hander.
Since 2018, Martin has walked exactly 1.0 batter per nine innings. His current rate of 1.6 is the highest it has been since his first couple of stints in the major leagues back in 2014-2015.
Martin had proven himself as one of the elite control relievers in the game over the past few seasons and should be a rock for this bullpen moving forward.
Shane Greene has only pitched in 14 games this season. Yes, it’s pretty much all been disastrous, but that’s not who he is. It’s tough to come in mid-way through the season and be in mid-season form. Greene needs some time to get his “spring training” out of the way and find his groove.
Last season he was one of the filthiest pitchers in the game. At the end of the season, these early numbers won’t be what matters for Greene. The impact he is capable of having on the stretch run could be a difference-maker for the Braves.
After a stellar 2020, A.J. Minter has been a huge part of the problem for the Braves. There’s a chance he gets it together and gets another shot, but after blowing two of the three leads in the past series with the Rays, the Braves optioned him to Gwinnett.
The bullpen has led to the team leading the league in losses after holding a lead in the sixth inning.
Luke Jackson – who is in the middle of a career year – should pair with Chris Martin to serve as the primary setup guys moving forward.
As previously mentioned, the relief core has been credited with 22 of the team’s 47 losses.
When you look at the talent, you have to assume this thing is going to move in the right direction.
Will Smith has been very good this season, especially when the backend of the bullpen can bridge the gap and put him in a save situation.
The lefty has a 3.58 ERA with a phenomenal 49 strikeouts in just 37.2 innings with a 1.09 WHIP. Smith is 18-20 in save situations this season.
We are already seeing starting pitchers like Max Fried and Drew Smyly make moves toward their expected numbers. Dansby is hitting the ball better and some of our struggling players are heading in the right direction.