Apr 20, 2016 — 10:12am
After a disappointing 0-9 start to the 2016 season, the Braves have suddenly won four straight, opening a big eight game home stand with an 8-1 win over the Dodgers. So what’s changed from a week ago, when things seemingly couldn’t go right? Let’s take a look at a few key ingredients to the Braves success over the last five days… – The bullpen, which took its licks in the first week of the season has come alive. Walks are down, as is the ERA which now stands at 1.25 over the last six games. The addition of a second lefty (Hunter Cervenka) has also added depth and options when Fredi picks up the bullpen phone. Roles are still being defined, which, Jason Grilli tells me takes “30 to 40 games.” Speaking of Grilli, he picked up his first save on Saturday with Vizcaino unavailable, and would have had a second on Sunday, had a bloop single not found daylight between Jace Peterson and Nick Markakis in shallow right. – The offense has also started putting things together, especially with two outs and runners in scoring position. Nick Markakis is one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball with nine doubles in his first 13 games. He’s also reached safely in 25 straight games, dating back to the end of last season. – After a flurry of early season errors, the defense has done a nice job taking care of the baseball. Erick Aybar seems to be settling into his new surroundings after a rough first few games with his new club. Overall, the Braves have played better than their 4-9 record indicates. Over that nine game losing skid, the team had leads in 8 of the 9, but couldn’t close the deal. It’s still early, and the road doesn’t get any easier with two more against the Dodgers, then the Mets coming in for the weekend. But as I said at the end of Spring, the Braves just need to find a way to keep their heads above water in the first five weeks, as the schedule becomes much more favorable after the first week of May.
– Kevin McAlpin covers the Braves for the @BravesRadioNet. Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinMcAlpin