The Braves were locked in for only the second time all season last night, as they fell 1-0 to Velez in another brutal performance of attack. With only 12 games to play, the Braves are running out of time to catch the Mets, and things will get even tougher tonight with Aaron Nola on the hill for the Phillies.
The root of the problem lies at the heart of the Atlanta lineup. Olson died in a doldrums of epic proportions, believed to be the worst of his entire life.
“I’m sure there are two (from the previous slack) that are similar, but in terms of bat quality — or, should I say, low quality — that’s right there,” Olson said, via David O. Brian the athlete.
If there’s been a worse slump throughout Olson’s career, it can’t be much. The first Braves player only hit .101 in his 22 games with a .34 OPS, but the struggles only begin with Olson.
The best player of the past two seasons, Austin Riley, is also in the midst of his worst slump this season. Prior to last night, he had scored just 0.15 in his last 15 games with two home owners and four RBIs. Dansby Swanson has had a chill at the worst of times too, coming in at 0.212 with two homeowners in the last 24 games, and Ronald Acuna Jr. has not fared much better, posting a 0.727 OPS in September.
The good news is that the depth of the Braves squad has kept the team afloat, preventing a long losing streak. The bad news is that even a little loss could spell doom for Atlanta at this point. The Mets have now led 1.5 games and have a tiebreaker in the division. In a couple of weeks, the Braves could find themselves in the three-match Wild Card series, which won’t feel comfortable with the way their attack looks today.
Admittedly, things seem to slip away. It looks like the team hit a wall, and the Mets didn’t give them any breaks, but I’m far from the panic button. The Braves are still on their way to winning 100 games. They have an elite staff, and their squad may be the best in every baseball game from top to bottom.
I know what Acuña, Swanson, Riley and Olson can do. This game is a volatile game, and it will make you humble in the blink of an eye. This isn’t the first weak stretch the Braves have gone through this year, and they’ve always looked better on the other side. I fully expect the Braves lineup to explode from this funk, and when all the chips are on the line, I still love their chances of beating anyone in the league.