In theory, the Atlanta Braves are in the driver’s seat in the National League.
They hold a 9.5 game lead over the Phillies for the NL East and appear to be on their way to a sixth consecutive division title. The Braves also have the best record in the NL, 4.5 games better than the Dodgers. By all accounts, the Braves should be in a great spot as the postseason gets closer.
Atlanta Braves have cause for concern going forward
And yet, there is a reason to be concerned in Atlanta. As Mark Bowman from MLB.com pointed out, the Braves have the second worst ERA from their starting pitching in the majors since the All Star Break. Their 6.15 ERA is only better than the Pirates (6.21) during that stretch.
Some of those struggles were expected. Bryce Elder is an extreme ground ball pitcher and had been expected to show some regression. Spencer Strider was expected to continue his solid showing, but has taken a step back. Injuries had hit their rotation, hollowing out their depth. Yonny Chirinos, who has been brought in as a stopgap, has struggled mightily. There has been a perfect storm brewing for the Braves rotation to start having issues.
At the same time, the Braves pitching staff is not in dire straits. Max Fried returned from the Injured List and should be a boost. Kyle Wright has been throwing bullpen sessions and should start a rehab assignment soon. That should help the Braves overcome what has been a disappointing showing for their rotation since the second half started. Their return should help the Braves mitigate some of those issues. But that concern may still be there.
The Atlanta Braves rotation has struggled in the second half. They need to step up if they are going to have a deep run through October.