MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Braves begin play Wednesday two games on top of the Philadelphia Phillies. We can now say we are in late August, and the Braves are in first place.
It was expected to be another rebuilding year – season four of the process – and instead the Braves are in first place and we can all see them possibly winning the division. Now, let’s be realistic about this and realize that the Braves and Phillies may flip-flop their positions several more times before September 30th. And let’s also remember that regardless of what happens in the next month, this may simply come down to the seven games the Braves play against the Phillies in the last 10 games of the regular season – starting on September 20th.
And it may simply come down to which team gets hot at the right time. The Braves have proven they can be very good when they are hot – like they were last week before the Rockies came to Atlanta, and that’s when the Braves proved they can be ordinary and be outplayed by another team.
But, isn’t this fun? Isn’t it incredible to be watching the Braves in a pennant race again? It’s been five years – five long years – but we can now watch meaningful baseball once again. I have no idea what the Braves are going to do. I do believe they can win the division, and it certainly would be great if they could win a playoff series. They haven’t done that since 2001 – 17 years.
But I’m just believing all of this is gravy. We didn’t expect this. We thought they were still a year away, and yet here they are in the thick of a pennant race. Who are going to be the heroes for the Braves in the last 30-plus games of the season? Who will be the players who get the big hits, or the pitcher who pitches the game of his life? Look at Dansby Swanson. Overall, he’s had a disappointing season, hitting only .245. But look at all of the big hits he’s had in the last few weeks, including his two-home run performance on Tuesday night. Maybe Dansby earns his salary with more big hits to win more games. Maybe A.J. Minter gets more big strikeouts with the game on the line, or maybe Julio Teheran – yes, Julio Teheran – pitches a division-clinching game in late September. And we can all hold out hope that Ronald Acuna will do something to help the Braves win more games.
This team is really good – better than any of us could have expected. I hoped they would be around .500 this season, but they’re likely going to surpass 81 wins in the next three weeks. And this young talent has been the difference.
We saw another kid pitcher make an impact on Monday night when Bryse Wilson made his big-league debut. Wilson and Touki Toussaint and Max Fried and Kolby Allard and maybe even Kyle Wright may come up in September when the rosters expand and help in the bullpen. It’s been incredible to see the rebuilding process play out right before our eyes this season. And even with all of the talent, there’s more to come behind the group that has already made their entrance to the big stage this season.
So, let’s enjoy these last 37 games or so and hope we can watch baseball into October. The Braves have treated us with a great season, and there are more great memories to come from a bunch of young players who seem destined to do something special.