Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Braves are off to a hot start, so why can't I relax?

It's late April, and the Atlanta Braves are off to a hot start.  So, all is well, right?  I guess so, but I just can't seem to relax when it comes to this year's team.  True, we are in first place, and the pitching and defense have been good.  However, when I look at the team, I see many holes.

My anxiety may be a holdover from spring training when the team suffered key injuries.  Starting pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy were lost for the year, and a third pitcher (Mike Minor) has been on the disabled list all season (though he is expected to return next week).

I guess the problem is I am waiting for our rag tag starting rotation to go poof.  Seriously, who expected Aaron Harang to be 3-1 with a 0.85 earned run average at this point?  Also, the entire starting rotation has an ERA under three.  Even if all these guys have good years, there's no way we can continue at this pace.

Also, the offense continues to live and die by the home run.  When we are hitting them, life is good.  When we are not, we are incapable of manufacturing runs.  For example, our starting pitchers appear allergic to bunting.  At this point, they have only managed to lay down three successful sacrifice bunts.  Call me crazy, but I think a major league player (even if it is just a pitcher) should be a skilled bunter.

Additionally, the top of the batting order is a concern.  Jason Heyward is not a prototypical lead-off hitter and has only hit around .200 so far.  He is certain to improve, but I wonder if leading off is a big distraction.  B.J. Upton as the number two hitter does not help me sleep better either.  We all know what a disaster last season was for him, and he is not exactly the contact hitter needed for the two hole.

The good news offensively is that Freddie Freeman is knocking the cover off the ball, and Evan Gattis and Justin Upton are not far behind.  Freeman and Gattis are both hitting over .300, and Justin is not far below it.

Maybe I just need to relax.  The baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint, and it's too early to get worked up about some of the things I have whined about. If there is anything I've learned about baseball, it is that a person should soak it in when his team is in first place whether it is in April or September.

Success comes and goes like the wind in baseball.