The Atlanta Braves have won five straight games and first baseman Freddie Freeman is a big reason why. Freeman has carried the team offensively to the tune of a .548 average, 5 doubles, a triple and three home runs. He was rewarded for his excellent week on Monday when he was named as the NL’s Player of the Week.
The only blip on the radar for the Braves during their five game winning streak was the injury suffered by outfielder Mallex Smith. Smith suffered a broken thumb in Sunday’s win over the Mets when he was hit by a pitch thrown by Antonio Bastardo. The AJC’s David O’Brien reports that Smith will be out 4-6 weeks with the injury and Atlanta is likely to call up Emilio Bonifacio to take his place on the active roster on Tuesday.
Shortstop Erick Aybar is another player who has seen an uptick in production after struggling through the first part of the season. Aybar is hitting .316 over his last 13 games but worked his way out of his slump without much help from hitting coach Kevin Seitzer according to the AJC’s David O’Brien.
“I went back over his last three years (on video) a month and a half ago and tried to go to him,” Seitzer said. “He said, ‘I don’t want to talk about failures.’ I’m glad he’s starting to come around to doing what he used to do. That’s all. He used to get hits all over the place. He used to use the whole field, spray the ball around, just grinding at-bats.”
Atlanta’s five-game winning streak has done wonders for the morale in their clubhouse. While the team has struggled mightily during the 2016 season, club officials hope that this streak might be a turning the corner moment in the team’s rebuilding plan.
"I think we've gotten to a point where we've built up enough prospects," Coppolella said. "We have the top farm system and it's not even close. So for us, if there's an opportunity to get a long-term piece that makes sense -- it doesn't have to be a Minor League player or a prospect. We need to try to supplement [our Major League team] to the best extent we can, and put a winning product on the field as we go through the second half and head into 2017.
Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his scheduled start against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers Monday night due to an upper back strain. The injury isn’t thought to be serious and the Nationals hope that he will be able to make his next start.