There is still work to be done, but the Atlanta Braves are in position to capture a fourth straight NL East division crown as they get set to continue their three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday night. The Braves have overcome countless obstacles this season to get to where they are.
Atlanta was five games under .500 and eight games out on June 16. Ronald Acuña Jr. went down with a knee injury on July 10. Still they continued to soldier on and reinforcements at the trade deadline bolstered their chances for a second half run.
“I think we all had belief in ourselves as a group. It just kind of took us a half, three quarters of the season to kind of get anything going consistently,” Brian Snitker said of the 2021 season. “We did a good job of staying around and keeping our head near the top, but it was after the trade deadline that things started falling together and we kind of got on a little roll there.
Much has been written and said about the impact that the additions of Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario and Richard Rodriguez have had on the team. Their success on the field gave the lineup a significant boost. They have also fit seamlessly into the clubhouse which is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“I think this is an easy place to do that in. When you go into that clubhouse and this organization, I think it’s a very welcoming atmosphere,” Snitker said of how the new additions have fit. “I think guys know that before they get here by playing against this team and our organization. I think it’s a real easy place to assimilate into.”
He also heaped some praise on team president Alex Anthopoulos who chose to double down on a roster that had in many ways underachieved throughout the first half of the season.
“Alex did a great job. He showed the players from the get go as soon as Ronnie went down that he wasn’t going to sit around and not try and make this thing better,” Snitker said. “He does everything in his power to try and help this club and the guys appreciate it. I think they respond to that too.”
The Braves are 32-18 since August 1. That was a stretch that elevated them back into contention
“A lot of these guys don’t know anything else other than this strenuous September baseball,” Snitker said of the team’s core. “A lot of them came on the scene here and the next thing you know they’re in pennant races. Hopefully they continue to expect this every year.
Max Fried will carry a career-best 16-inning scoreless streak into Wednesday’s start. That includes seven scoreless innings against the Giants and then a complete game shutout against the Padres where he allowed just three hits. Fried has allowed a combined 11 runs in 67 innings over his last 10 starts. Perhaps more importantly, Atlanta is 9-1 during that stretch.
Josh Tomlin threw a simulated game prior to batting practice but Snitker said that it was unlikely that he would be activated over the weekend if the Braves clinch. Snitker said that Tomlin wanted to throw to stay ready just in case he was needed. Tomlin was placed on the 10-day injured list on August 29 with a strained neck.