The news from the Phillies camp is that Chase Utley is expected to be out for six weeks at least as his injured thumb will require surgery. What does that mean for the Braves other than Martin Prado likely landing the starting job for the NL All-Star team?
It means it’s time to turn on the afterburners and create some separation in the standings from our friends the New York Mets as well as the Phillies. We’re 1.5 and 3.5 games, respectively, in front of the Mets and Phils, and it’s time to make that distance a bit larger.
We just got Jurrjens back from the DL last night (the equivalent of landing another ace) and now our rotation is full of five guys nobody wants to face. Heyward is out for two weeks but will join after the All-Star Break hopefully at full-strength; the equivalent of landing a young clutch power bat. It’s unlikely the Braves will part with their top pitching prospects to land a power bat in left or center field from what I’m seeing, but Chipper and Yunel are turning crucial corners at the right time for the Braves.
It’s our division to run away with. The Mets have pitching depth issues. The Phillies are battling injuries. We need to finish out the first half strong and then run away with the division after the break. Time to put some distance in between us and the rest of the NL East.
Tags: Chase Utley, Martin Prado
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Apparently few outside of Atlanta know who Martin Prado is, but that may change after Chase Utley landed on the DL yesterday with a (this sounds familiar) sprained thumb, clearing the way for Prado to start the All-Star game.
Yesterday, Prado was featured in SI.com’s “All-Overlooked All-Star Team,” amidst the likes of Corey Hart, Joey Votto, and Ricky Romero (all names you should go familiarize yourself with if you haven’t yet). The praise from SI’s Tom Verducci was simply “The Braves began to turn around their season when manager Bobby Cox put Prado into the leadoff position. Prado has hit .356 out of the top spot. The guy can flat out rake.” And can he! One of my favorite parts of Martin is how hard he works and how team-focused he is. There’s no attitude or personal glory moments with Prado, he’s always getting dirty and hustling to make things happen and then pushing credit to others.
As of the last vote tally, Prado was firmly in second to Utley in votes for the second base position in the NL. Unless something has changed, Prado will likely be the National League’s starting second baseman for the midsummer classic – and that’s a good thing. There’s not a better top-of-the-order hitter right now than Prado (hitting .331 on the season), and the NL needs someone to set the table to win this one.
The Braves may actually have a vested interest in home field advantage during the World Series this year. One thing’s for sure: If the Braves make it, Prado will be at the front of the lineup setting the table.
Tags: All-Star, Chase Utley, Martin Prado
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