The Atlanta Braves clinch the NL East!

For the third straight year, the Atlanta Braves are officially your NL East division champions!!

A few months ago, we were not even sure we would have baseball at all, but yet we did — even in an abbreviated edition.

The results were much of the same, though, as the Atlanta Braves have now won the NL East three straight seasons.

Obviously this one was completely different in a ton of ways:  injuries would play a big factor, specifically in the starting pitching department.

Early in the season, Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka went down with an Achilles injury; and honestly, things looked bleak for the Atlanta Braves at that moment.

Important to note that this was after Mike Foltynewicz was designated for assignment after one messy early season start in Tampa. Let us also throw in Sean Newcomb being very inconsistent before he himself was finally demoted to the alternate site.

Enter Max Fried though, who we said at the beginning of the year would have to take that next step. And boy, did he do so. He will be included in Cy Young talks and it appears the Atlanta Braves have a very formidable 1-2 combo in their rotation for many many years.

The rotation was in shambles for much of the year and despite the depth the Atlanta Braves have at that position, the club elected to use bullpen games on quite a few occasions this season.

These last few weeks have gotten us a little more on track though as Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright have both seemingly have it figured out at the top level and are hopefully ready to lead the rotation come October.

Starting pitching-wise, it’s incredible this team even made it to .500, much less won the division especially when you account that Cole Hamels pitched a grand total of 3 innings this season.

What went right?

The Atlanta Braves bullpen was outstanding this season and no doubt the biggest reason this team is where they are now. Early in the year, Josh Tomlin logged long innings and all season the three-headed monster of Chris Martin, Shane Greene, and Mark Melancon were beyond great. The one player who struggled was a little surprising:  Will Smith.  Late in the year, though, even he seemed to get it going.

I would be remiss if I did not mention AJ Minter, who easily had his best year yet.

I do not want to get ahead of myself but this bullpen reminds me of the Kansas City Royals bullpen that was so instrumental in their back to back world series appearances.

Hopefully they continue to carry the pitching staff.

The lineup was historic though, and that was even the case with both Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna missing some time throughout the year.

Whether it was Dansby Swanson hitting the ball better than ever over the first few weeks, or Adam Duvall becoming Babe Ruth the second half of the season. This lineup has no weak spots.

Freddie Freeman did nothing but have another extraordinary season and will be right in the middle of the MVP race.

It’s very possible he finishes second though because Marcell Ozuna might be the favorite. He has done nothing but take what Josh Donaldson did last year and raise that bar.

Austin Riley while still not having room to grow, showed great signs of improvement and Travis d’Arnaud had the best season in a while for any Atlanta Braves catcher.

It was not the prettiest season ever but collectively they still got the job done. The injuries and inconsistency made it look unlikely at some points but the Atlanta Braves found a way still to win the division again.

Hardly anyone saw the Miami Marlins being the biggest threat though, but hey….2020?

Speaking of 2020, while one could argue this might be the least likely of the last three Braves teams to do it, hopefully they find a way to surprise and win a playoff series. It would be such a normal thing this year and nothing surprises me this year anymore.

Now, the Atlanta Braves do not need to coast over these last few games. They are still playing for something as getting the two seed over the Chicago Cubs would be huge for this team. Hopefully, they keep the winning ways going.