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Five players the Braves need and one they can go get

Our division winners are only two months away.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On one hand, I like this season. Ozzie Albies is killing it. Ronald Acuña is as advertised. Mike Foltynewicz trying to throw through the catcher’s glove in the All-Star appearance I knew he could make. It’s been good. If we were stuck in a holding pattern around 10 games above .500, I wouldn’t feel cheated. I still have 2016’s ugliness tattooed in my head. How ugly?

Yeah, that was May 4, 2016: three hits and 1 player above .700 OPS. Remember Chase d’Arnaud? And look, the MLB’s worst third baseman hitting second. Now this was May 3, 2018.

That’s six players with an OPS over .900, .600+ winning percentage, and the first division lead that deep into the season in five years. Francouer is in the broadcast booth and not in left field. Things are great.

But on the other hand, we have a chance to do something special like winning the NL East for the first time in six years and possibly more. .500 for the rest of the season is just boring. Boring is for mayo and minivans, period. I can understand the arguments for trading for it and riding with who we have. Why go for it when we have at least two holes in the rotation, no stars at third or catcher, and a pretty average bullpen? We could wait and spend our resources on a team with Toussaint, Gohara with a hopefully healthy offseason, maybe Allard, and plenty of money to reel in a bat. However, 2019 doesn’t appear to need any help and this year’s team could use a boost. Also, the Phillies aren’t running away right now and the Nationals are melting. 2018 could be our opening.

Regardless of the anyone’s arguments, however, it looks like the Braves will stand pat. Scott Coleman brought to our attention the Braves’ unwillingness to make a splash weeks ago. And rajah discovered although we might have some cash, but may be unable to spend it. Fortunately, we don’t need to spend any money or trade any prospects to win this division. They are only two months away. The five players that we need to make the playoffs are Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuña, Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, and Dansby Swanson... from April and early May.

Weighted Runs Created (wRC)

Player Thru 5/15 After 5/15
Player Thru 5/15 After 5/15
Freeman 162 140
Markakis 151 117
Albies 136 111
Acuna 126 97
Swanson 105 73

Through May 16th, if a Braves starter produced a game score of 50, then we were 19-4. So if the Braves just got average starting pitching, they were practically a lock to win (.826 win %). If we can get the offense going again, then it won’t matter who we add. We’ll run away and never look back. But we need to get it in gear. How do we do it?

I’m certain they are capable. One and a half months for a set of five months isn’t SSS. But if we just want to add an affordable guy on the pitching end that could help out, I do have an option.

Tyson Ross is a right-handed starter for the Padres on a one-year deal. He is having an okay season with a 4.39 FIP and 0.8 WAR (all numbers through July 21st. Two months of a below 2.0 WAR/200 won’t cost a lot, as we learned last summer. He is also pitching his first full season after shoulder surgery that almost erased his entire 2016 season and half of 2017’s. Wait, don’t we have better options at starter? He might be better than Julio Teheran or Max Fried. He could start, but he’s our new righty killer out of the bullpen if we can get him.

This year, righties are slashing .168/.256/.316 with a .250 wOBA and lefties have beat him up at a .368 wOBA rate. That wOBA would make him the Braves’ fourth best reliever versus righties, and you would hope that number would improve in a relief role. His career mark versus righties is .287 wOBA. He walks a fair amount, but makes up for it with strikeouts. His Baseball Savant profile says he relies on five pitches, but that’s a little comical considering he is living off a four seam and slider. He throws those two pitches 90% of the time. Two pitches and a big L/R split sounds like a ROOGY to me. But I’m not sure I want to see him start and face lefties with our shorter right field porch at SunTrust Park.

Our pitching leaves a lot of be desired. But I’m certain that we can get to the playoffs with the resources that we have once the offense turns around. Tyson Ross is a decent, inexpensive option and much better than anyone that we pull off the Atlanta-Gwinnett shuttle. We don’t need a lot, and that’s handy because we aren’t spending a lot.

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