Braves are missing their All-Star first baseman

Published 5:54 pm Friday, June 26, 2015

The Atlanta Braves have really struggled since power hitting first baseman Freddie Freeman has missed numerous games with a wrist injury.

Wednesday’s game against the American League-leading Washington Nationals in our nations capital is a prime example of the problem.

Braves ace right-hander Shelby Miller gave up just one run through six innings. The Nationals went up 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh and the Braves pinch hit for Miller in the top of the eighth. The Nationals scored a run of recently signed left-hander Dana Eveland in the bottom of the eleventh to pull out the victory.

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When you have to take a strong bat like Freeman out of the middle of your lineup, it is going to handicap your offense.

After Thursday’s loss, the Braves are just two games below .500 and close enough to still make a run toward either the division title or one of the two National League wild card playoff slots.

They have a lot of young pitchers who have contributed early. I am talking about Shelby Miller, who they obtained from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for right fielder

Jason Hayward, former Georgia Bulldogs left-hander Alex Wood, rookie right-hander Williams Perez, who came up through their farm system, and rookie right-hander Matt Wisler, who they obtained from the San Diego Padres in exchange for left fielder Jason Hayward.

With Freeman currently out, a lot more pressure has been placed on the shoulders of center fielder Cameron Maybin and right fielder Nick Markakis to consistently drive in runs, and both have done a pretty good job of it. Maybin was obtained from the San Diego Padres in the deal that sent center fielder Melvin Upton and closer Craig Kimbrel out west. Markakis, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, was signed to a four-year free agent contract.

While Kimbrel is sorely missed un the closers role, set up man Jim Johnson and former outstanding Pittsburgh Pirates closer Jason Grilli have picked up the slack in the bullpen.