2021 Spring Training: A Glance at the Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves came within a game of going to the 2020 World Series.
Thanks to its young, solid core of outfielders, pitching, and depth, the Braves are poised for another postseason run.
According to rotochamp.com, the lineup looks like this— Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna, Travis d’Arnaud, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, and Cristian Pache. Everything starts with Acuna Jr. at the top of the order. He hits for power but also has the speed for extra-base hits. The reigning National League MVP — Freeman, sits in the No. 2 hole. Recently signed Ozuna will hit third followed by d’Arnaud in the cleanup spot. The switching-hitting Albies will hit fifth followed by Swanson batting sixth. Riley will bat seventh with either Pache or Ender Inciarte batting eighth.
The lineup adds flexibility depending on who is plugged into at third base and the outfield. Atlanta will want to mix different combinations when it comes through the bottom four hitters in its lineup. Snitker likes to play the hot hand while also giving struggling players time off. This could result in more at-bats for Swanson, Albies, or Riley if Acuna or Ozuna is given a day to rest.
Albies is listed as the only second baseman on the Braves.com roster. Veteran Jason Kipnis would be a solid replacement to give Albies a rest day.
Riley and Johan Camargo will likely split time. Sandoval is listed as the backup to Riley according to Braves.com. Ehire Adrianza might appear according to how the season goes. If the Braves trade for a third baseman or injuries occur the Braves will have to evaluate their talent.
Swanson will be the starter with Camargo, Jack Mayfield, Kipnis, or Albies each seeing time.
Related Article – Atlanta Braves: Solving the Outfield Puzzle for 2021
I expect to see a total of 5-8 role players that can be plugged into for offensive and defensive purposes. Those key players could be Pache, Sandoval, Kipnis, Camargo, Almonte, Contreras, and Adrianza.
Fangraphs.com expects the Atlanta rotation to be Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, Drew Smyly, and Kyle Wright. Mike Soroka is expected to come back following his Achilles injury. He along with Sean Newcomb and Josh Tomlin could see some spot starts. Atlanta could also bring up minor leaguers Bryse Wilson, Touki Toussaint, Tucker Davidson, Jasseel De La Cruz, and others as needed.
The Braves have a plethora of young arms to go to. This means the team will experiment with the mixed bag of veterans and younger players. Tomlin is the swiss army knife for the club and can be called upon in any situation. Jacob Webb and Grant Dayton are still question marks as middle relievers. Left-handers Tyler Matzek and A.J. Minter proved themselves valuable commodities during last year’s postseason run. Luke Jackson had a shot at the closer’s role and may get another chance but is a strong arm to have in the bullpen.
Anderson and Pache are still considered rookies by Major League Baseball because of their service time. Both players are expected to play a significant impact this season. Anderson almost became the second-best pitcher last year and will continue to build his resume. Pache proved his worth in October when he filled in for the injured Adam Duvall. His defense was never in question but his offense will likely determine how impactful he becomes.
How do you feel about the Atlanta Braves as they head into spring training? Leave a comment below.
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