3 takeaways from the Braves pitiful performance against the Padres

The Braves suffered a tough series loss as they couldn't find much luck against the Padres.

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves
San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves / Alex Slitz/GettyImages
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Let's not mince words, the Braves had a terrible series against the San Diego Padres on their home field. Chris Sale's Cy Young-level performance on Monday night eased the pain of what could have been a disastrous series, but it only distracted Atlanta fans for a night, as now many fans are realizing that this isn't last year's Braves that broke multiple records.

The offense is one of the worst in baseball right now, but again even with this, the Braves are still in a good spot, despite their lackluster play.

That's largely because of the pitching, which to many people's surprise has been the biggest benefactor of a Braves team that is 27-17, first in the Wild Card, and five games back of the red-hot Phillies.

Before this series, the Braves won 6-of-8 against the Red Sox, Mets, and Cubs. However, with their loss in the finale to the Cubs, they've now lost 4-of-5. And though we are ready to move on to another series with the Cubbies in Chicago, let's break down the bad and even some of the good from the series against the Padres:

Atlanta's offense is trending in the wrong direction

Ronald Acuna Jr. put it best following the Braves' 9-1 defeat on Sunday Night baseball in an article by MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Atlanta's talented outfielder stated, "I don't know if it's the timing of the swing or not. But right now, I'm not that good."

He was speaking specifically about himself there, but in reality that sums up the whole of the Braves offense in 2024. They aren't that good right now and have struggled to work counts and capitalize in big moments. Over the last 7 games, they are batting .249 as a team which is 17th in all of baseball. The offense was the best in baseball a few weeks ago but injuries and slow starts from key bats have plagued them lately.

This series did nothing but worsen the fears of Braves fans that have been building for a while now. They scored a run a piece in the first two losses, five in a loss in the first game of Monday's doubleheader that saw the bullpen blow up, and three in their 3-0 shutout victory thanks to the brilliant showing from Sale.

After an April that saw the Braves second in the MLB in runs scored, over the last 30 days Atlanta has scored the least amount of runs in the MLB.

I'll reiterate that. Over the last month, the Braves have had the worst offense in baseball. A far cry from where most thought one of the best offenses in MLB history in 2023 would be this season.

It starts from the top, of course, as Acuna is having the worst season of his career after having one of the best offensive seasons in MLB history a year ago. His slash line of .253/.359/.359 and a.717 OPS has been buoyed by a solid day on Monday where he went 4-for-9 in the doubleheader, with a three-hit game in game one.

In 16 games this month, Ozzie Albies is hitting .200 with only three RBI and six runs scored, bringing his season slash line down to .275/.325/.475 for a .736 OPS.

If those two aren't getting on, it gets tough for a still red-hot Marcell Ozuna (1.047 OPS) or an improving Matt Olson (.816 OPS in May), to generate runs resulting in what the Braves offense is right now. Stagnant.

Here's hoping things improve. But the concern level for the offense has reached a peak that it hasn't gotten to in quite a while, and for very good reason.

The bullpen isn't as bad as you think it is

Bullpens are to the MLB what cornerbacks are to the NFL. You can have a great series, but one blow up and the fanbase will turn on you and make it seem like it's the worst bullpen they've ever seen.

Statistically, the Braves have been one of the better bullpens in the MLB this season, though Joe Jiménez's rare blowup on Monday afternoon wasn't pleasant.

In the last 10 games, the Braves have the fifth-best bullpen ERA in the MLB at 3.02. They are ninth in the MLB on the entire season with a collective 3.44 ERA.

They were great in the 3-0 win during the nightcap on Monday. Atlanta's relief core looked great following a poor showing on Friday from Max Fried, which included a hitless inning from Jiménez, and they certainly weren't the problem in Sunday's 9-1 loss that witnessed Bryce Elder give up six runs over three innings, and subsequently being optioned back to Triple-A

Believe it or not, Jiménez has the highest fWAR of any Braves reliever this season at 0.4 with a 3.50 EA through 18 innings and a good 9.0 K/9. That's a great quality for a middle reliever to have as they are often tasked with getting teams out of sticky situations.

So has the bullpen been flawless? No, but it's been much better than most probably realize.

Start ringing the Chris Sale Cy Young bell

Another day, another Chris Sale masterpiece.

Thanks to Sale, the miserableness that has been the Braves offense was forgotten about for one night, as Sale mowed down a Padres lineup that had scored 15 runs combined in the previous two games of the series, throwing seven innings and allowing five hits, no runs, and striking out nine.

For the season, Sale is fourth in the MLB in fWAR at 1.9 with an MLB eighth-best 11.12 K/9, a fifth-best 1.27 BB/9, and an 11th-best 2.17 ERA.

He's everything the Braves could have dreamed of and more when they traded Vaughn Grissom, a guy who was probably on his way out either way, for the flamethrowing lefty.

There's a short list of Cy Young candidates right now. including Shota Imanaga of the Cubs, Zack Wheeler, and Ranger Suarez of the Phillies. Sale deserves to be on that list and if he maintains this pace, he could walk away with it easily.

Atlanta prepares to face the Cubs again starting Tuesday evening for the second time in a little over a week. However, this time, the team will take them on within the friendly confines. Let's hope their luck changes and this series provides fans with something to cheer about.

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