A short-term solution involving Evan Gattis and B.J. Upton

Butch Dill

Gattis has done it all this season. Can he help turn B.J. Upton's season around? Here's one proposal.

Evan Gattis keeps on hitting, and his story keeps on getting better.

He crushed his 11th home run of the season on Monday night, which made him the team leader with 31 runs driven in. He also doubled and singled, raising his OPS to .931 on the season.

If Gattis had about 20 more plate appearances, he would be qualified to rank 10th in the National League in OPS. The only players ahead of him are either perennial All-Stars or rising superstars.

Gattis has been an elite hitter through the first two months of the season.

All of this begs the question: what do the Braves do with Gattis moving forward?

After Tuesday, the Braves won't have a chance to employ a designated hitter in their lineup until June 25. In a perfect world, the Braves split time with Gattis and Brian McCann at DH and behind the plate. But this isn't a perfect world; it's the National League where pitchers have to hit (for some dumb reason.)

McCann is healthy and will continue to get a bulk of the starts behind the plate. Justin Upton isn't sitting anytime soon. Jason Heyward has looked good since coming off the disabled list. Freddie Freeman isn't losing his job at first base.

The only real position that needs reinforcement right now is center field. Gattis, obviously, can't play center.

So what's the short-term solution?

With B.J. Upton continuing to struggle, the Braves should temporally shift Heyward to center field, Justin Upton to right and Gattis to left.

This change allows the Braves to continue giving Gattis regular plate appearances while B.J. essentially resets his season in the batting cage. The current plan is to sit the enigmatic outfielder for a day or two, but I would go with this lineup for at least a handful of games.

What's the worst that could happen with B.J. struggling so badly right now?

After a week, bring Upton back into the lineup. Hope for the best. Assuming everyone is still healthy, then go back to the formula the Braves have used successfully the past month: start Gattis once or twice each week, and have him continue to come off the bench late in games as the top pinch-hitting option.

At this point, the Braves need to continue giving Gattis as many plate appearances as possible. Almost equally important is getting B.J. Upton back on track. The guy is going to be in Atlanta for the next five years, and he's far too talented of a baseball player to be hitting the way he has the first two months of the season. Maybe all he needs is a couple of days away from the game.

With Gattis swinging the bat the way he is, why not try something a little different? It's a luxury Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves have right now, and it's a luxury they need to take advantage of.

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