The 2023 Atlanta Braves have one the best lineups in MLB history. Ronald Acuna Jr. leads the team, a player who recorded the first-ever 40 HR/70 SB season in baseball’s 147-year history and is all but a sure thing to bring home the NL MVP. Hitting behind him are Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley, both of whom amassed 30 home runs this season. Hitting cleanup is Matt Olson, who led the league in home runs. Behind him is Marcell Ozuna, who hit 40 dingers. The back half of the Braves lineup is no cakewalk for opposing pitchers, featuring Eddie Rosario, Sean Murphy, Orlando Arcia, and Michael Harris II. This lineup tied the single-season record for most home runs hit, and there is no evidence to suggest they won’t keep up this pace in the postseason.
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The Braves pitching staff provides more concern for opponents. Ace starter Spencer Strider finished with a 20–5 record and 281 strikeouts, both marks that led the MLB. While Strider’s ERA of 3.86 tells a different story, the 24-year-old is still a high-quality ace that Atlanta will have no problem trusting in big moments. Behind Strider is where things begin to get shaky. Charlie Morton has been ruled out of the division series with a finger issue. Bryce Elder was an All-Star but has since seen his ERA rise to over 5.00 in the second half of the season. Max Fried has been elite when healthy, but the lefty battled injuries throughout the season and was forced to miss his last few starts.
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The Braves’ bullpen is a bit of a mixed bag. Raisel Iglesias has proven to be one of the most reliable closers in baseball this year. Collin McHugh, A.J. Minter, Kirby Yates, Joe Jiménez, and Michael Tonkin were all dependable in the middle-to-late innings at different points throughout the season. However, all of them have also had moments where they are unplayable. While the Braves don’t need all those guys pitching well to be successful, they’ll need to find a few guys who can be consistent options.
The Braves will take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the division series, a matchup between two NL East powerhouses. The Phillies made the World Series last season and are returning most of their key pieces. Their power and elite pitching is something to be feared, but the Braves lineup should prevail. The other NLDS matchup is the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both teams are talented, but Atlanta is better and should have a straightforward path to the World Series.