The State of the State: Tennessee

July 18, 2023

A look at what’s happening on the Tennessee sports scene: Can the Braves make the southeast proud with another playoff run?

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves just keep getting better and better. Atlanta has made the postseason in each of the last five years, highlighted by a World Series title in 2021. But this year’s edition of the team might be the best yet.

The Braves entered the All-Star break with the best record in all of Major League Baseball. They surged down the stretch to leapfrog ahead of Tampa Bay for that distinction, in part because they won two out of three from the Rays just before the Midsummer Classic.

The Braves are running away with the National League East. With the Mets having a down season, it’s been left to the upstart Marlins to try to keep pace. They’re not up to the task. That’s why Atlanta entered the second half of the season as the prohibitive favorite to win the division (-20000).

It’s all about a deep playoff run for this team. Last year’s loss to the Phillies in the NLDS left a bitter taste, one their trying to erase in emphatic fashion this season.

Why to like Atlanta to win the National League pennant (+125)…

  • The Braves are loaded with stars; seven members of the team were selected to the All-Star Game, including their entire infield
  • Spencer Strider might be the best pitcher in baseball; his 11 wins in the first half were tied for the MLB lead
  • The Braves had a run differential of +147 heading into the All-Star break; the Dodgers were second in the NL at +76
  • They’re the best hitting (.270 team average) and pitching team (3.67 team ERA) in the National League
  • They won 30 games at home and on the road in the first half of the season

Why to not like Atlanta to win the National League pennant…

  • If San Diego (3.78 ERA) and/or San Francisco (3.90) get into the playoffs, they’re teams that could hang with the Braves (3.63) on the pitching front
  • The Dodgers are equally loaded with talent and anything can happen in a short series

Richard DeMala’s pick: Atlanta to win the NL pennant (+125)