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8 Braves

Author:

IN LIMBO

SCOUT'S TAKE

KEY QUESTION

They've got as much position player talent as anyone: Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña are MVP candidates. But can the starting pitching keep up? Julio Teheran has fallen from ace to innings-eating middle-rotation guy, and as a big velo guy who lost a few ticks off his fastball, I'm not sure he'll be an ace again. And Mike Foltynewicz's right-elbow injury is worse than they want to admit.

UNDERRATED

Ender Inciarte is a tremendous defender, and he's a much better hitter than people think. He's one of the few guys left in the big leagues willing to bunt for a hit. He's a very good situational hitter, and he plays a Gold Glove centerfield.

BUYER BEWARE

Kevin Gausman is too Louisiana cool: He's not soft, but you'd like to see more of a killer instinct out there. He's got top-of-the-rotation stuff, but he's pitching like a fourth starter.

LAST LICKS

Once Acuña realizes he can go the other way consistently, watch out. His talent is out of this world.... Brian Snitker and his coaching staff get the most out of the team.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

AFTER WINNING their first NL East crown since 2013, the Braves mostly sat on their hands this winter. One addition, Brian McCann, will share catching duties with Tyler Flowers and carry minimal expectations at age 35. The other, third baseman Josh Donaldson, 33, was signed to the biggest one-year deal ($23 million) in baseball history and is expected to be a linchpin of the offense. Donaldson adds a righthanded power bat to a team that got a lot of its production from the left side last year. After he got MVP votes in 2017 while hitting .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs for the Blue Jays, Donaldson's last season was ruined by right-shoulder and left-calf injuries that limited him to 52 games and eight homers. When healthy—and by all accounts he is—Donaldson has been a superstar. Atlanta may well have gotten another MVP candidate, to go with Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr., for just a one-year commitment.

OVER UNDER

79.5

The NL's biggest surprise last year, Atlanta will benefit from a full year of Ronald Acuña. Despite a shaky rotation and bullpen, the Braves could be a playoff contender again.

LINEUP

LF Ronald Acuña Jr.

.293/26 HR/16 SB

3B Josh Donaldson

.246/.352 OBP/.449 SLG

1B Freddie Freeman

.309/23 HR/98 RBI

RF Nick Markakis

.297/.366 OBP/.440 SLG

2B Ozzie Albies

.261/24 HR/72 RBI

CF Ender Inciarte

.265/.325 OBP/.380 SLG

C Brian McCann

.212/.301 OBP/.339 SLG

SS Dansby Swanson

.238/.304 OBP/.395 SLG

BENCH

C Tyler Flowers

.227/.341 OBP/.359 SLG

IF/OF Charlie Culberson

.270/.326 OBP/.466 SLG

FANTASY BREAKOUT

The focus on OZZIE ALBIES is on his .226/.282/.342 line in the second half. The 22-year-old belted 20 homers before it.

ROTATION

RH Mike Foltynewicz

13 W/2.85 ERA/1.08 WHP

RH Julio Teheran

9 W/3.94 ERA/1.17 WHP

RH Kevin Gausman

10 W/3.92 ERA/7.3 K9

LH Sean Newcomb

12 W/3.90 ERA/1.33 WHP

BULLPEN

CL Arodys Vizcaíno

16 SV/2.11 ERA/9.4 K9

LH A.J. Minter

3.23 ERA/1.29 WHP/10.1 K9

RH Dan Winkler

3.43 ERA/1.19 WHP/10.3 K9

MANAGER

Brian Snitker