|Tony Phillips might be key to Atlanta's success.|
Another thing to keep in mind, this an alternate league without 1993 expansion teams, such as the Colorado Rockies & Florida Marlins... with the original 1969 Division setup & playoff system.
The Braves would almost slide and miss the playoffs in 1993 -- narrowly defeating the Houston Astros for the N.L. West Division title, only to again fall short of a world title -- as Andres Galarraga (returning from a one-year hiatus in St. Louis) leads the Montreal Expos over the Oakland Athletics in the 1993 World Series.
The Atlanta Braves strengthened their lineup by acquiring on-base machine Tony Phillips to be their lead-off man. The team also made sure it kept John Smoltz (9 years / $38.6 million) & Tom Glavine (6 years / $33.6 million) around for some time.
The team also picked up two Rule 5 Draftees in Mike Timlin & Jeff Juden; Timlin will be working out of the pen, while Juden will log some innings in the 5th slot of the rotation.
|What's the skinny, Giambi?|
The Atlanta Braves' bullpen is strong with Roberto Hernandez as its closer. Mark Wohlers and Mike Maddux provide strength in the setup roles, to go along with the rest of the pen that contains Mike Stanton, Kent Mercker & Pete Smith.
The Atlanta Braves have started the season, 7-2, with their only losses to the Houston Astros (Season Opener) and the San Diego Padres; They have been strong with series victories over San Diego (3-1) and the Cincinnati Reds (3-game sweep).
Phillips has proved to be a great signing so far, batting .314 (11-for-35) with 2 HR & 5 RBI to go along with his 11 bases on balls. Chipper Jones has been ice cold though, batting .129 (4-for-31) with only 2 RBI & a .385 OPS to date; Jones was sat out April 19th in favor of Giambi that day.
Through 2 starts each, the Braves' top four pitchers have been excellent...
- Greg Maddux: 1-0, 0.64 ERA, 9 K / 1 BB, 0.857 WHIP in 14 IP.
- Tom Glavine: 2-0, 2.70 ERA, 16 K / 4 BB, 1.050 WHIP in 13.1 IP.
- John Smoltz: 1-0, 1.26 ERA, 18 K / 6 BB, 0.698 WHIP in 14.1 IP; left game pitching a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres through 7.1 innings... which bullpen surrendered hit.
- Steve Avery: 2-0, 1.69 ERA, 11 K / 4 BB, 1.125 WHIP in 16 IP.
Next up... The Los Angeles Dodgers (4-5) come to Atlanta.