1. The Bullpen. The Braves bullpen is one of the best in the MLB. Venters, O'Flaherty, Sherril, and hopefully Peter Moylan soon, 'nuff said. With the release of Scott Proctor today and promotion of Arodys Vizcaino, the Braves have bolstered their right-handed pitching staff in the Bullpen. The release of Proctor, while totally necessary, is bittersweet, only because he was a good guy, well-liked, and was a mentor to many of the young arms on the staff. That being said, the Braves are better off.
2. Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla. Both of these men have had 20+ game hitting streaks, Freeman's ended at 20, and Dan Uggla is currently in the midst of a 30 game hitting streak. Since my installation of the Ugglometer, Dan Uggla has raised his average from a terrible .173, to .220. During his streak, he's hitting .350, and the power has never been stronger. Freddie Freeman is powerful, smart, and an extremely good first baseman. These two, including Martin Prado, will carry the Braves past the Phillies in the NLCS, if the Phillies make it that far.
3. Craig Kimbrel. The Braves rookie closer has been lights out since giving up a few leads in the beginning of the season. He's been a little over-used lately, with 4 games in 6 days, but that means the Braves are winning, no problems there, not to mention he's tied for the most saves in the MLB. If he can keep it up, the Braves will steamroll to the WS, the way the Giants did last year.
4. The Bench. The Braves bench is deep, when I say deep, I mean Grand Canyon deep. J.C Boscan, the 3rd string turned back-up catcher has shown he can hit, after is 9 year stint int the minors. Jose Costanza is proving the exact same thing, with his bat, and his speed. Eric Hinske, the behemoth he his, is always a danger to opposing pitchers with the long ball. Brooks Conrad, scapegoat of last years' playoff series loss to the Giants (3 errors in the final game), has had a good season, and batting lefty, he's always dangerous.
5. Michael Bourn. FINALLY. Finally the Braves have a true leadoff man who actually gets on base. Michael Bourn, since joining the Braves, has led to more runs, and has gotten on base more than anyone else has in the leadoff spot. He's lighting quick, good with a bat, and adds an all-around good attitude.
6. Starting Pitchers. Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Brandon Beachy, and Mike Minor (sometimes), have been pretty great this year. All have solid starts, and are good at keeping the Braves close during bad outings. Derek Lowe may be left off the roster for the playoffs, only because he has an almost 5.00 ERA. But as the Giants proved last year that dominating pitching wins championships.
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