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Jul 11, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (left) and Andrelton Simmons (19) go for the ball against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-4.Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves: What Have We Learned? First Half

It feels like just yesterday we were opening the season in Milwaukee, only to see a brilliant Julio Teheran start go for not in the 2-0 loss. Looking back on it, it’s pretty crazy how that first game, and overall, the whole opening series in which the Braves took two of three from the Brewers, would foreshadow what would come in the first half of the season.

We have seen this ball club play really, really well. They closed it on a high note, with back to back double-digit run games (something they haven’t done since before 2010), are tied for first place and are just two games off their pace from last year. We have seen them put together some great win streaks, the season began with some shutout starting pitching, and Tommy La Stella, Shae Simmons and, more recently, Christian Bethancourt have turned out to be great additions to the big league lineup. Plus, what was thought to be a laughable move has paid off immensely, as moving B.J. Upton to the leadoff role seems to have given him the spark that he need to get things going in a Braves uni.

However, on the flip side, we have also seen this club play really, really poorly. As we’ve covered in this very segment, the bullpen isn’t what it once was – while, yes, injuries to guys like David Carpenter and Jordan Walden have certainly been a factor of that, guys like Luis Avilan simply aren’t getting the job done. We have seen some terrible, terrible, losing streaks, the poor play of Dan Uggla (although, thankfully, not recently) and some horrendous offensive numbers from Chris Johnson.

The fact that the Braves are tied for first place and are only two games off of last years pace is, for the most part, incredible. They’re still in this, make no doubt about it, and a pennant race for the division (something this franchise hasn’t been involved in for quite some time) might actually do the club some good, and give them a sense of urgency.

But enough talk. Let’s get back to playing ball.

Tags: Atlanta Braves

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