Despite winning the NL East for a second-straight season, the Braves were knocked out of the playoffs during the Divisional Round at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5. The Braves got involved in a busy offseason, picking up some power and pitching while also losing some from last season.
RP Will Smith
OF Marcell Ozuna
SP Cole Hamels
C Travis d’Arnaud
SP Dallas Keuchel
SP Julio Teheran
C Francisco Cervelli
3B Josh Donaldson
Like their divisional rival in the Nationals, the Braves also lost their power bat at the hot corner. Josh Donaldson signed a four-year deal with the Twins. With third base lacking from free agency, the Braves re-signed infielder Adeiny Hechavarria. The Braves were able to bring in outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who should slot into the cleanup spot once occupied by Donaldson. It’s a perfect scenario for the Braves, as Ozuna is trying to set himself up for a big payday next season, signing just a one-year deal. He brings 30-home run potential and getting out of Busch Stadium certainly helps — he hit 16 of his 29 home runs on the road last season.
The Braves also brought in Cole Hamels after losing Dallas Keuchel from the front end of their rotation. The veteran drew some heavy interest across the league but landed with the Braves on a one-year $18 million deal. While he’s not the dominant pitcher we once knew from his Phillies days, he brings a solid source of innings and a nice compliment to Mike Foltynewicz and Max Fried. Hamels posted a 3.81 ERA and 143 strikeouts over 141 2/3 innings with the Cubs in 2019.
The team also made a move to boost their bullpen by signing Will Smith. Despite the team already set at the closer position with Mark Melancon — who saved 11 games last season — Smith was brought in on a three-year deal. The thought process is that Melancon will close to start the season but that could change if he struggles. Melancon is due a hefty amount of money this season at $14 million, so it’s not as if making the switch is that easy. Either way, it puts two very tough pitchers to hit again near the end of their bullpen, making it quite the task for opposing teams if they head into the eighth inning with a deficit.
DraftKings Sportsbook currently has the Braves listed at 90.5 wins, which feels fair but also a tad bit high for me. The Braves made some good moves this offseason but also moves that are more geared toward the “best-case scenario.” I have no doubt they’ll still be very competitive and likely near the top of the division but I don’t think they’ll be into the high 90s in wins this season either. If this total starts to come down by a couple of games, I’d be interested in taking the over. However, as it’s set at 90.5 wins, I’m more comfortable taking the under.
Atlanta Braves UNDER 90.5 wins
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