Braves Slow Start to Second Half: Why Fans Shouldn't Panic

The Braves have been struggling as of late. With their recent woes, their readiness for the postseason has been questioned. Here is why it’s too early to have those concerns.
Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates
Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves have been going through a cold spell since the all-star break (by their standards). They are playing .500 baseball over that span after a win last night against the Pirates. This is not the typical 2023 Braves right now, but it’s not time to panic.

While the Braves are still 71-40 overall, they are just 11-11 since the break. Atlanta snapped a 3 game losing skid last night and many believe this team is not truly built to win in the postseason, mainly due to an underachieving pitching staff.

Alex Anthopoulos chose not to pursue any starting pitching at the trade deadline with Max Fried returning from the IL. Which by the way, he did in dominant fashion. There is also an understanding that Kyle Wright will be returning down the stretch of the season.

Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder are independently going through the toughest stretch of their season. Elder led the National League in ERA a good portion into the year. Morton is a 16-year veteran and two time all-star who’s expectations are always high. Rather than throwing heat, these two are catching it from Braves fans as a result of their recent outings.

Panicking is not a proper response at the moment. It would be absurd for anyone to expect Bryce Elder, who was not even supposed to be in the rotation, to continue what he was doing early in the season for the entirety of the year. As Charlie Morton’s age increases, his stamina seems to be fading but he is pitching better than people realize.

Morton is 10-10 with a 3.86 ERA this year. His ERA is currently lower than Spencer Strider’s (3.94). Charlie Morton is having command issues this season as he as walked 58 batters in his 123.2 innings pitched. The timing of these walks in ballgames seems to be Morton’s worst enemy right now. However, he has proven when he throws strikes he is effective. Charlie has been around the block a time or two. He will figure it out and help the team win games, especially in the postseason.

For Bryce Elder, expectations are simply too high from too many people. With the way he started the season, constantly posting zeros in box scores, it seemed a little too good to be true. It would be absurd to expect Elder to sustain that kind of performance for a whole MLB season.

Elder took a spot in the rotation to fill in for the injured Max Fried and Kyle Wright. He was a nice surprise for the Braves in the first half of the season and even earned himself a trip to Seattle for the all-star activities. There is no doubt Elder is capable of helping this club win games, he is just a back-end rotation pitcher rather than the ace he was pitching like in May.

With Fried back at full strength, look for the rotation to show some major improvements in the coming weeks. More than just getting an ace back, the Braves will have a full 5-man rotation with some stability and everyone can pitch on proper rest.

3 Reasons Not to Panic

1. It’s a 162 game season. Being 31 games above .500 is an insane record. The Braves are just that at 71-40 even with the 11-11 stretch after the all-star break. The MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint. Atlanta has a chance to make it through their worst sequence of games while still maintaining a record AT LEAST 30 games above .500. That is something special.

2. The Braves are still putting themselves in position to win. Regardless of how bad it feels like pitching has been, Atlanta is averaging giving up 5 runs a game in their last 22. That is with the wild game against the Diamondbacks averaged in which the Braves lost 16-13. On top of that, with this offense, a 5 run deficit feels like 2.

3. Atlanta is continuing their historic power surge. They have blasted 45 more homers in the second half of the season. In addition to that, they are still hitting .255 (25-94) with runners in scoring position. There is still some room for improvement with RISP but a) runners are constantly in scoring position and b) .255 is still very respectable.

The bad timing of walks surrendered, baserunning blunders, errors, etc. seems to be dictating the outcome of ballgames for Atlanta right now. This happens to every team in a MLB season at some point, the 2023 just seemed like they would be immune to normality. This team is just showing they are actually human and it’s caught us by surprise.

Sooner rather than later, the Braves will get hot again and show convincingly why they are the favorites to win the 2023 World Series. It very well could begin with their impressive come-from-behind win on Tuesday night.