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Against All Odds: The 2021 Atlanta Braves

As of July 27, 2021, the season the Atlanta Braves had envisioned was not panning out. The World Series hopeful team was sitting at 50 wins and 52 loses, putting them five and a half games behind the division-leading New York Mets. It was safe to say that the team that made it to the National League Championship Series the year prior was not the same. The Braves needed to make some adjustments by the fast approaching MLB trade deadline on July 30; the last time teams can trade with one another until the start of next season.

After almost making it to the World Series the year before, the Braves’ start to this year’s season was not a smooth transition. Their subpar start came from a combination of injuries and poor pitching. It is no secret that the Braves have been dealing with injuries all year. Their starting catcher, Travis D’Arnaud, was sidelined on May 1st due to an ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. Though he returned at the end of the season, his absence was detrimental for the team. Around the same time, shoulder inflammation placed pitcher Tucker Davidson on the bench for the majority of the season. However, Davidson did return in time to start in game five of the World Series. Adding to the pitching struggles, Mike Soroka, a starting all-star pitcher, tore his achilles on June 24th, just six days before the trade deadline, making the timing of the injury not ideal. The most devastating injury of all, though, was when the Braves’ star-slugging outfielder, Ronald Acuña Jr., went down with a torn ACL. One of the best players in all of baseball going down mid-season seemed to be the cherry on top of a season going down the drain. Fortunately, clever moves at the trade deadline by Braves general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, not only saved the Braves season, but also brought them to the World Series.

With the trade deadline approaching in just three days’ time, this would be the last chance for the Braves to salvage their season before heading in the wrong direction for good. When July 30th hit, the Braves had made a flurry of clever moves to prepare for the final stretch of the season and a possible playoff run. Without knowing that Acuña would go down for the year just ten days later, Alex Anthopoulos added depth to a hitting and pitching core that desperately needed it. Relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez was acquired from the Pirates to add to a pitching roster that was struggling mightily before the trade. In 37 appearances, Rodriguez has a 2.82 earned run average and an impressive 33 strikeouts. The Braves also collected outfield depth and power with the additions of Jorge Soler from the Royals, Joc Peterson from the Cubs, and Adam Duvall from the Marlins. Maybe the most important acquisition of all has been outfielder Eddie Rosario from the Cleveland Guardians. Rosario has been magnificent this postseason – especially in clutch situations. Rosario, who is seeing the ball well, has a batting average of .411, with 11 runs batted in and three home runs. 

Right now, the Braves are leading the Houston Astros 3-2 in the World Series with game six coming up tonight. If the Braves lose, they will head into a seventh game, but if they win, they will be the World Series Champions. Though hoping to seal the series in the game tonight, no matter what happens, this Braves team will be remembered for their resilience and fight. Their message is clear: to never give up, even when things seem to be at their worst.

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