The Atlanta Braves started July with two wins. They followed that start with a 3-13 stretchthat saw the Phillies pass them atop the National League East.
That prompted much discussion whether the Braves were more like the team that started the season 20-10 and could vie for the NL East title, or an also-ran like the club that played .500 ball since.
Braves’ general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, let fans know what he thinks with several MLB trading deadline moves to shore up his pitching staff and add power to the Braves bench.
Better yet, he gave up only one top-20 prospect and players largely expected to not be with the club in 2019. He made good use of Atlanta’s international slot money, which is worth nothing to the Braves thanks to MLB sanctions against the club.
Manager Brian Snitker is among those who like the moves. “We are a better team right now,” he said. To validate his point, the Braves enter August on a three-game winning streak.
Who did they get?
Anthopoulos started his buying frenzy by acquiring two veteran arms for his bullpen. Baltimore gave up righty Brad Bach and Tampa Bay shipped lefty Jonny Venters to Atlanta in exchange for international slot money.
Neither is having an outstanding season, but they provide veteran experience and depth where the Braves need it.
Atlanta next addressed Edgar Inciarte’s diminished production by acquiring former all-star outfielder, Adam Duvall, from the Reds. Duvall allows the Braves to platoon Inciarte against right-handers the rest of the season. Duvall will not cost the Braves any defense, either.
Anthopoulos made one more deal before the MLB trading deadlinewith the Orioles thatdoesn’t look like much at first glance. Starter Kevin Gausman and injured reliever Darren O’Daywere acquired for an assortment of prospects and reserve players.
Could Brian Gausmanbe a steal?
Gausman is 5-8 and sports a 4.43 ERA with the Orioles this season. The sixth-year veteran has never finished a season with a winning record. This year’s ERA is only a tick higher than his career 4.22 mark.
However, Anthopoulos is quick to point out two statistics that make his new starter’s value intriguing.
To start with, Gausman just left a team with one of the worst defensive-runs-allowed marks to pitchin front of one of the stingiest defenses in the major leagues. That can’t hurt his ERA.
The GM also points to the schedule differences between the Orioles and Braves. Baltimore plays the majority of their games against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays. All are offenses to be reckoned with.
In twelve starts against teams outside the American League East this season, Gausman owns an ERA of just 3.13. It’s not a Jacob DeGrom-like 1.68, but it can get the job done in most games, especially with the Braves’ revitalized offense behind him.
Are the Braves better after the MLB trading deadline?
Atlanta pulled back to within a half-game of the Phillieswith their recent spurt. Washington is treading water at .500 but lurks close enough to make a run at both teams.
With four teams fighting for the second wild start spot behind Milwaukee, the Braves’ safest bet is to take the NL East.
It would help if starting pitcher Julio Teheran fixes his consistency issues down the stretch, but Atlanta’s trading deadline deals make them better on the field. Anthopoulos’ faith in them improves their mental attitude.
Anthopoulos displayed enough trading savvy to assume he could pull off a waiver trade in August if needed, too.
If you jumped off the 2018 Braves’ bandwagon during their July swoon, it’s time to get back on and find a seat. They could take us on quite a ride.