Braves sweep of Detroit shows Atlanta is heading in the right direction

Emerging from their slump, the Braves are showing signs of turning things around.

Detroit Tigers v Atlanta Braves
Detroit Tigers v Atlanta Braves / Casey Sykes/GettyImages

The Detroit Tigers rode into Atlanta sporting a 34-37 record. While below .500, the Tigers still maintained a quality record and have proven they are no pushovers this season. However, this quality record started taking a dip when they stepped into Georgia.

The Tigers came at what seemed to be the perfect time. Looking like a shell of the amazing 2023 Atlanta Braves, this year’s team appeared to be falling apart offensively. But underneath their recent struggles, they were showing signs of life. The Tigers soon learned that a sleepy Braves team wouldn’t be so easily put away.

Highlights from the Braves’ crowd-pleasing performance against the Tigers

The first two games didn’t produce much excitement as far as scoring is concerned. In both games, the Braves won 2-1. However, the pitching was very encouraging. Max Fried did what Max Fried does, which is to provide quality outings. Fried threw 5.1 innings giving up only one run and collecting six strikeouts. But the pleasant surprise came when Spencer Schwellenbach dealt six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts in his first MLB win. So far, this is the best start of his very young career. While Schwellenbach has experienced some trouble since being called up, his past two starts indicate he is settling in quite well and might make a good replacement for Strider.

On the offensive side, a few of the Braves’ struggling bats showed signs of coming around. Austin Riley’s two doubles in game one displayed his continued improvement at the plate. Ozzie Albies also made a decent contribution going 2-8 through the first two games with a homer and a triple.

Chalking up two wins to clinch a series victory is great, but the Braves saved the best for last. In the third game, Reynaldo Lopez threw 5 innings of shutout ball. Sean Murphy put up a 4-4 game with two home runs, his bat blasting back to life after his post-injury struggles. Ramon Laureano, the Braves’ replacement for Michael Harris II, also had a nice night going 2-4 with a home run. What shouldn’t go unnoticed is the continued bounce-back performances from Ozzie Albies (2-4) and Austin Riley (2-3 with yet another double). The Braves wrapped up the series finale with a 7-0 victory.

Had this 7-0 victory come against just any pitcher, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, the starting pitcher for the Tigers was AL Cy Young contender Tarik Skubal. Skubal posted 4 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, and 7 K. The Braves offense did exceptionally well, chasing Skubal before the 5th and adding on runs against the Tigers’ relief corps.

Speaking of relievers, the performance of the Braves’ relief corps should not be lost on anyone. After going through some ups and downs this season, the Braves relievers posted 0 runs through 10.2 innings of work against the Tigers. Keep in mind the Braves are without A.J. Minter, making their combined performance even more impressive.

Does this mean the Braves are back?

One series sweep against a sub-.500 team is never a tell-tale sign of an emerging powerhouse waking from slumber. As for Skubal, every starter has bad days. This is the same even for superstar pitchers. But before we take this sample size as a sign of the Braves’ impending dominance, we should take a wider view.

Prior to sweeping the Tigers, the Braves took 2 of 3 games from the Rays. If we include the last game of the Orioles series, the Braves have won 6 of their past 7 games. While the Braves lost the Orioles series 1-2, defeating the O’s is not an easy thing to do this year and the series finale which the Braves won marked the beginning of Atlanta's supposed turn-around. Over those past seven games, the Braves outscored opponents 39 to 18. While the Braves have had a nice stretch, it is too soon to tell if they can sustain their success.

The bounce-back performances from Murphy, Riley, and Albies are very encouraging. Matt Olson, who went 0-10 against the Tigers, had previously shown signs of improvement. Whether this is the beginning of an epic Braves comeback or not, we know this roster is capable of great things. Still, we will only know if this recent success is sustainable when we see how they perform against teams above .500.

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