We are just under two weeks before the first half of the Major League Baseball season comes to an end only two have a double digit division lead, that being the Yankees at 13 games ahead of the Red Sox at the time of this article and the Houston Astros, 14 games ahead of the Mariners at the time of this write up.
Over a month ago, the defending World Series Champions, Atlanta Braves, were in the midst of struggles and found themselves struggling to string together a win streak longer than two games and closed out the month of May with an 8-7 extra innings loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. With that loss, the Braves fell to 10.5 games behind the Mets and the concerns of whether or not they would be able to turn things around grew.
Those concerns would be addressed immediately by the Braves and like the flick of a switch, they made the month of June the one of their best in franchise history after starting it with a 14 game win streak that led to them tying the club’s Atlanta record for most wins in a calendar month with 21. And with everything that was in question from pitching to performances at the plate, seeming to all come together at the right time, the Braves now find themselves trailing the Mets by 3.5 games heading into Monday’s match up with the Cardinals.
And now, with six more games before they face the National League East leading Mets, Atlanta is positioned to potentially take the lead in the division when the two teams meet for a three game series on July 11 if somehow they have not done so prior to then. With the exception of the Braves current series with the Cardinals, both teams have favorable match ups before they clash.
However the Braves have been getting solid bat production from the likes of Dansby Swanson, who is batting .301 and has made contact in 11 of the last 14 games, Austin Riley, who is on a four game hitting streak and the surprising play of rookie Michael Harris Jr., who is batting .306 with five homeruns and 19 RBI’s since being called up at the end of May in addition to the bullpen rotation seemingly shaping up thanks to performances by Spencer Strider, Kyle Wright and Max Fried who are combined 21-8.
The Mets are currently facing the Reds for a three game set and then will take on the Marlins for a four game series, while Atlanta will take on the Nationals in a three game series after their four game set with St.
Louis. If the Braves can at least keep pace with the Mets up until they meet, a sweep could see the Braves trailing by a half game by the end of the series and would close out the first half of the season with a four game series with the Nationals, who they currently have a 4-2 series lead over this season.
Now the Mets themselves will face the Cubs to finish up before the All-Star break, but it is safe to say that the Braves found their stride at the right time and although July is just getting underway, the chances of them leading the way by the break are very favorable.
For now, we know Atlanta will take it one game at a time, but you almost cannot help but speculate how things could look for the champs in the near future.