In its 154th year of professional baseball, the Atlanta Braves are gearing up for an exciting 2024 Major League Baseball season. With a roster filled with talent and potential, they’re preparing to take the NL East and make a significant World Series run. Let’s look at some of the last pieces the Braves need to put in place to challenge the Dodgers as NL favorites going into the season.
In Pursuit of its Fifth World Series, the Atlanta Braves Should Make These Moves
Bolster the Formidable Braves’ Rotation
The Braves have been making bold moves to strengthen their starting lineup, especially their pitching rotation. The quintet of Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Chris Sale, and Bryce Elder forms a formidable backbone for the team. The addition of experienced players like Chris Sale, who has a solid postseason track record, provides stability and experience to the team, especially during high-pressure situations.
While Sale’s addition to the team addresses a common challenge that teams face late in the season – uncertainty surrounding players returning from injuries and Morton declining at 40 years old and average 2023 season, the need for younger pitchers to step up during critical playoff games will be crucial. Onto solution No. 1, a rotation fifth starter.
Instead of exclusively using Morton in the fourth spot in the rotation, move him into the fifth spot. Bring up the Brave’s two most anticipated prospects in AJ Smith-Shawve and Spencer Schwelland, forming a three-headed fifth starter and add long reliever options on their off-rotation starts.
In the age of advanced stats and AI analytics, it takes the rest of the league five or six starts to figure out a rookie starting pitcher. Look at Seattle Mariners’ Bryce Miller and Bobby Millers of the Dodgers’ impressive starts to their careers. Neither were the prospects Smith-Shawve and Schwelland are, giving the chance of this three-headed pitching monster the probability of a 20-win season while bolstering the bullpen and extending Morton’s productivity and health. The added bonus is getting the Brave’s two top prospects big-league experience without the added pressure and a top-tier offensive production to back them up.
This move would reflect the Braves management’s strategic thinking and commitment to creating a championship-winning team.
Neutralize the Threat From the Philadelphia Phillies with this Mega Free Agent
Philadelphia Phillies have been a formidable opponent to the Braves in recent years, and their resurgence could pose a significant challenge. They were non-factors throughout the regular season, only to make a late-season push and beat the Braves in game four. The Braves just needed a little more in 2023; that could be upgrading the LF position with Cody Bellinger.
Right now, heading into spring training, the Braves are committed to platooning LF with 24-year-old Jarred Kelenic as the primary guy. There is a lot to like about Kelenic, the sixth-overall pick in 2018 could be a breakout candidate, but all optimistic delusion aside, he has struck out 299 times in 872 plate appearances.
Cody Bellinger is still the top available FA; while his asking price is high, coming into an organization as exemplary as the Braves and being a top contender could get his price tag down under the $200 million mark in the Braves market structure.
The biggest reason the Braves are making a play for Bellinger, who would be a great Braves guy, is to keep out of the Phillies lineup. Yes, that’s a real threat; Bob Nightengale via USA Today reported the Phillies could be a sleep team in the Bellinger sweepstakes.
The price tag is high, but the payout is bigger; Bellinger would upgrade significantly to the weakest position in the Braves lineup, adding an MVP quality bat and veteran leadership with playoff experience to the locker room while preventing the Phillies from having a HOF lineup.
Be Aggressive at the Trade Deadline
Lastly, when the trade deadline approaches, the Braves must make adjustments and be aggressive. The Braves have learned valuable lessons from their past postseason experiences. They may not make significant moves during the offseason, but they will likely aggressively pursue impactful additions as the deadline nears this year.
The team’s General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos, is known for making astute decisions and is likely to adjust the team’s strategy to ensure they have what it takes to win the championship.
The 2024 Season and Fifth World Series Aspirations are Real
With their strengthened rotation and potential commitment to making midseason upgrades, the Braves have a legitimate shot at securing a spot in the World Series. The road to the championship won’t be easy, but the Braves’ combination of talent and experience makes them a strong contender. If the Braves can add Bellinger, call up their two top pitching prospects, and be aggressive at the deadline, fans have every reason to be optimistic about Atlanta’s chances in 2024 for No. 5.
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