Will Josh Donaldson Upgrade The Offense?
Josh Donaldson played just 52 games last season due to various injuries, and signed a one-year deal with the Braves in the offseason. This gives them another power right-handed bat that is much needed, and will help their lineup against left-handed pitching. If Donaldson can resort back to the 2015 and 2016 years in Toronto, this offense could be extremely dangerous with Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna around him. The Braves have some backup depth with Johan Camargo just in case the injuries pop up again for Donaldson. He should be hitting atop of the order, and 120+ games for Donaldson would give him another strong year of stats before he hits the open market again. This was a great move for Atlanta and a definite upgrade for the offense if he stays healthy.
Can Atlanta Get By With This Rotation?
The rotation might be considered the weak spot if you look at the Braves. There is some upside with this group, as Kevin Gausman looked a lot better with Atlanta, and moving out of the AL East was certainly a big help. Mike Foltynewicz took a major step forward last year, and has all the tools to be the ace that Atlanta needs. Consistency is the only thing he lacks at times, but the stuff isn’t in question. Things start to get a little rocky, as Julio Teheran has been struggling for a few years now as a flyball pitcher that has seen his hard-contact rate go through the roof. Teheran as a number three or four option is something that will need to be improved going up against some of the elite teams in the National League. Sean Newcomb is a strong lefty, but walks and consistency are also an issue. If he can take a step forward this season, this will help sure up the backend of the rotation. The fifth spot is going to be up for grabs between a lot of the prospects in line for a starting role soon.
Is Michael Soroka Ready For 2019?
The Braves have a couple of prospect pitchers that are very close to being big league ready. Michael Soroka is one of them, who has also been a potential trade partner for teams if the Braves wanted to make another move. Soroka was called up late last season, but only pitched 25 innings due to injury issues. In a full season down in the minors, he has posted a 2.75 ERA in Triple-A and a 3.02 ERA in Double-A. He is not a major strikeout arm, but boasts a strong groundball rate, and has pinpoint control. The pitching staff is a bit thin, but they have a lot of options to round out the back half. Soroka might not be ready to be a 4th or 5th starter just yet, but keep an eye on his name throughout the year, as he would be one of the early call ups, or even a role for long relief if needed.