3 takeaways from the Braves sensational series sweep over the Marlins

The Braves continued to roll against NL East rival the Miami Marlins with a sweep on Wednesday. The team now prepares for a massive series with the red-hot Cleveland Guardians

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves
Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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Let's start this out by saying, the Miami Marlins are bad. They are much worse than most thought coming into the season, including me, who thought that they'd finish last in the NL East, but they are approaching levels even lower than that in the early season, sitting with the worst record in the national league at 6-20.

This is the second-worst in the majors only in front of the 3-22 White Sox (Don't look at who the White Sox have beaten this season, Braves fans don't need to re-live that).

The Braves continue to beat up on bad teams

The fact of the matter is that the Braves have always been good at beating up on the bad teams since the start of this current stretch of NL East dominance which started in 2018. What has lifted them to 100-win seasons over the last two years is being able to consistently beat the good and bad squads but every team must have a base. A solid base for getting into the MLB playoffs is to beat up the teams with bad records and the Braves have consistently done that.

The walk-off win against the Marlins on Wednesday was their seventh-straight against below .500 teams dating back to their 5-1 loss to the Marlins on April 18. That loss was only their second loss against a team currently below .500 on the season, as they sit at 11-2 against such teams.

Anyone can tell you on paper that the Braves are a stacked squad, and better than teams like the Marlins. But they have to go out there and show it and the Braves are doing that again this year.

Braves' staff starting to find its groove despite the loss of Strider

Spencer Strider had all the hype coming into the season for this Braves pitching staff, and for good reason.

It's why his season-ending injury was so devastating to Braves Country and why at the time the loss of Strider seemed like it was a bigger deal than it was. Make no mistake, this is a better rotation with Strider in it, but even with him missing, it is still one of the better rotations in baseball and this series against Miami proved it.

The full stat lines for the Braves starters in this series are ridiculous.

First, we started with the triumphant return of Bryce Elder, who looked like his former All-Star self, shutting out the Marlins in 6.2 innings and allowing eight hits while in typical Elder fashion striking out only four.

Then as soon as we thought Elder hurled a masterpiece, Max Fried made us rethink what a masterpiece is, throwing the second complete game shutout with less than 100 pitches and first since himself in 2021. He allowed just three hits in the win and struck out six. This is Max's third career "Maddux" as he trails only Tom Glavine, who has five, and Greg Maddux, who has 10.

Then came the "worst" starting performance of the series, as Reynaldo Lopez only had a seven-inning, three-hit, one-run outing. He is off to a blazing start for the Bravos with a 0.72 ERA over four starts. Lopez currently has the second-best ERA in all of baseball.

Now you may be saying "But this was the Marlins, a very bad offensive baseball team." And you would be right. But let's take a look at two players who aren't having a horrid season at the plate: Luis Arraez (.299 BA, .717 OPS) and Bryan De La Cruz (.262 BA, .725 BA).

Arraez was his typical self, going 7-for-13 with his typical zero extra-base hits. De La Cruz, however, was 2-for-12 with five strikeouts and looked bad at the plate all series.

The moral of the story here is even though the Marlins aren't the best measuring stick for how great your pitching is. The Braves were dominant on the mound this series, something that most Braves fans had serious doubts they could be after Strider went down, even against the Marlins. However, we are starting to see the starting staff settle in.

The Big Bear continues to rake

Going into the season finale on Wednesday, it seemed as if Marcell Ozuna had cooled off a bit.

He was 1-for-6 in the first two games of the series, but in the final game, he showed us why he's a legitimate early MVP candidate, going 3-for-4 from the plate and driving in two of the four runs the Braves needed to win the game.

In the end, heading into the series with Cleveland on Friday, Ozuna is still hitting .344 with 18 runs scored, nine home runs, 29 RBI, and a 1.094 OPS. It's now been nearly a month straight of MVP-level hitting and to be honest, probably longer than that. He fended off Braves fans who wanted him DFA'd early last year before he figured things out and became one of the most dependable bats on the team at season's end.

Marcell currently has the second-most home runs behind Mike Trout who has 10 of them. He only trails Mookie Betts for the best OPS in the league but the Braves slugger does lead Major League Baseball in slugging percentage (.678) and RBI (29).

The 30-year-old is currently on pace for 63 home runs and 204 RBI. That likely will not happen but it's a great indicator for just how well he's performing right now.

He's locked in at the plate and there is no reason to believe he won't continue to be as the 2024 season marches on. Atlanta will likely pick up his club option for 2025 if he can maintain this level of production.

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