The Atlanta Braves made it back to the National League Championship Series last year for the first time since 2001. Unfortunately after taking a 3-1 series lead, they fell to the eventual World Series Champ, Los Angeles Dodgers. This season the Braves will try to make it four playoff appearances in a row and take the step by winning the NL.
To the dismay of not only Braves fans, but baseball fans in general, Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL on Saturday and will miss the remainder of the season. Losing one of the most exciting young players in the sport will be difficult to bounce back from.
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Rank: Third in the NL East, 4 games back
Atlanta sits just four games behind the New York Mets for the NL East, with the Philadelphia Phillies just ahead of them and Washington Nationals right behind. The Braves are already without Marcell Ozuna for the foreseeable future. Now they will be missing their young superstar for the rest of the year. Who will step up? Guillermo Heredia has played admirably this season slashing .253/.343/.414 with a 105 wRC+. Aside from him though, the internal options seem to be hoping Ender Inciarte can rediscover how to hit, or giving Drew Waters and/or Cristian Pache a regular shot at full-time work.
Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers
The big lefty seems to be a hot commodity heading into the All-Star break and rightfully so. He is under control through next season and is certainly more than just a power hitter. While Gallo does have 24 home runs and 52 RBIs (coincidentally the same totals as Acuna), he also has six stolen bases and seven DRS in right field this season. The Rangers are sellers as they start their rebuild and Gallo will bring in a solid return for them.
Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins
While the Twins are likely to sell off J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda as well, neither has pitched particularly well and they would both be rentals for this season. Berrios won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season and gives the Braves a workhorse at the top of their rotation to replace Mike Soroka who is done for the year. The Twins right-hander averages six innings per start and has a very good 3.48 ERA along with a 114/31 K/ BB rate. Although Atlanta would likely have to part with either Waters or Pache and a pitcher like Jared Shuster or Bryce Elder, the Braves would have Berrios for next year as well when they will be at full strength.
Richard Rodriguez, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates
While the Braves bullpen has been decent this season led by Will Smith along with Luke Jackson and A.J. Minter, depth is always the key. Rodriguez has been excellent for the lowly Pirates with 12 saves. He also sports a solid 2.29 ERA, 29/3 K/BB rate, and has allowed only one long ball in 34.1 innings. Having a righty-lefty closer combo of Smith and Rodriguez down the stretch and into the playoffs would give Brian Snitker plenty of options at the end of games.
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