UPDATE: Jordan Walden has been activated from the DL. Alex Wood has been optioned to Gwinnett where he’ll be stretched out, presumably to return as a starter when the need arises. No changes to the line-up:
Heyward rf, BUpton cf, Freeman 1b, JUpton lf, Gattis c, Johnson 3b, La Stella 2b, Simmons ss, Minor p
To answer the question CB posed yesterday, I think an improved bullpen would enable the Braves to win the division. That is assuming the Natspos don’t catch fire. They could, of course.
With this offense, I’m not sure the Braves are capable of, say, a 30-15 type run, even with a bolstered bullpen. But if the starting pitching stays solid, a good pen would allow this team to win something like 86 to 89 games, I think. And who knows? Maybe the bats will perk up. The best hope for the offense is:
- Johnson heats up, stops swinging at breaking balls in the dirt in the left-handed batter’s box and takes a walk now and then. He’s 8 for his last 21. And maybe three hits last night is a good sign, though good games so far this season have not signaled much.
- BJ finds some level of consistent mediocrity. That’s our only realistic hope for him. After a little spurt pushed his average above .220, he’s 1-for-18 with one walk and back down to .207.
- LaStella keeps hitting and maybe moves up to the 2 spot.
- Justin finds consistency. He’s hitting .217 in June after hitting .300 before this month. And he has 3 RBI in his past 10 games. Justin, overall you’re doing fine, but can you please spread the production a little more evenly?
- Gattis and Andrelton draw more walks.
- The pitchers bunt better.
Four of those things could realistically happen. More likely, maybe half will. I harbor little hope for BJ — a scintilla, maybe — and I think Justin is just going to be ultra-streaky.
If Floyd is to be traded, last night’s outing couldn’t hurt his value. I would not be opposed to moving him if we get back a solid reliever. No lineups posted yet, but here’s a guess:
J-Hey, BJ, Freeman, Justin, Gattis, CJ, LaStella, Simmons, Minor.