Ranking Phillies opponents in National League East
No. 2: Atlanta Braves
It was a tough choice for which team to put in this spot between the Braves and Nationals as both can make the case for the favorite to win the division. Each has their strengths, but ultimately the Braves are the tad weaker team. You could easily convince me to go the other way with this.
The starting rotation is the biggest weakness for the Braves. Mike Foltynewicz had a breakout year in 2018 but won’t be ready for the start of the season. There is a steep dropoff from there with Julio Teheran and rookies Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright starting in the opening series against the Phillies. Even when Foltynewicz returns, the rotation will be a big question mark.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Braves bullpen as well with A.J. Minter and Darren O’Day not expected to be ready to start the season either. The unit should be fine once healthy, and they may get a big addition in Craig Kimbrel to help things out.
Where the Braves are strong is their lineup. Ronald Acuna ran away with Rookie of the Year and is an MVP candidate this season. Freddie Freeman finished fourth in MVP voting last year. Ozzie Albies took the league by storm to earn an All-Star appearance before slumping hard in the second half. They added former MVP Josh Donaldson in free agency hoping he can return to that form.
The Braves have all the pieces to repeat as division champs. They should be in it for most, if not all of the season. The starting rotation definitely should give some pause, but they can dip into their deep farm system to add a high-caliber starter at the trade deadline.