The Atlanta Braves have now lost Jason Heyward and had more injuries this season than I can remember them ever having. While the Braves have been able to overcome them up to this point, I’m pondering whether they have enough manpower left to finish with the best record in the National League, and secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Not to mention, be successful in the playoffs.
How many hits can one team take?
Should Atlanta Braves fans lower their expectations now to match the fact that this team has been decimated by injuries? Would winning the NL East, which would be improvement over last season, be enough to satisfy the fan base? Or will the whiners and crybabies conveniently ignore all the injuries and come out of the woodwork if the Braves don’t finish strong in the regular season and then go deep into the playoffs?
St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles have all remained relatively healthy this season, compared to the Braves. Not only that, while the Braves have only an $89 million payroll, the Cardinals payroll is almost $30 million more at $117 million, and the Dodgers payroll is a whopping $216 million! Hats off to the Pirates, whose payroll is only $66 million.
Even if Heyward is somehow able to gut it out and come back for the playoffs (which I strongly doubt), he will have not hit against live pitching for a month and a half. Not only that, how long does it take a player to relax in the batter’s box after having a pitch explode their face? Many players over the years were never able to come back after suffering a serious head injury from being hit with a pitch.
The Braves still have a very good starting rotation and an excellent bullpen. But you can’t lose a player the caliber of Jason Heyward without serious ramifications. Not only Heyward, Reed Johnson still hasn’t come back from the disabled list and Evan Gattis and Jordan Schafer haven’t been the same players as they were before their own injuries.
Braves fans, do you need to lower your expectations this season and accept the NL East championship as progress and “wait until next year?”