Braves Still Alive to Win NL East Despite Early Struggles

The Braves are surging and find themselves just 5.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East
The Braves are surging and find themselves just 5.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

My oh my, a lot can change in a couple of weeks, eh?

At the end of May, the Atlanta Braves stood at 23-27, at risk at losing any hope of a National League East divisional crown as the New York Mets looked like perhaps the best team in baseball.

Fast forward two Mondays and the Braves have won 11 straight, now merely 5.5 games behind the Mets for the NL East lead. What changed? And is there value on Atlanta to win their fifth straight division title?

Braves Still Alive to Win NL East

WynnBET Sportsbook has the Braves listed at +250 to win the NL East. June seems to be a great month for the division honestly, as the Mets, Phillies, Braves and Marlins are all among the hottest teams in MLB. Even the last-place Washington Nationals have won five of 10.

But there's a few reasons to believe Atlanta's resurgence may be a sign of things to come and they're still a value at +250 to win their division.

First, they finally got superstar Ronald Acuña Jr back after missing 292 days with a knee injury. He quickly silenced any concerns he wouldn't be the same guy, and has a .943 OPS with six home runs and 16 RBI in 32 games. That the Braves won last year's World Series without Acuña should be terrifying, and their lineup with him is one of the league's best. Over the last five weeks, Atlanta has the fourth-highest OPS in the sport as Acuña, Matt Olson, Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson have terrorized opposing pitchers.

Second, Atlanta's pitching staff has stayed among the best in MLB. They have the second-lowest team ERA (3.44) in the National League over the last five weeks. Max Fried and Kyle Wright have continued their scorching campaigns and Ian Anderson looks more like himself of late. The Braves have the NL's best bullpen ERA (3.02) with a sizable gap over the second-place Dodgers (3.52).

Finally, though their defense is just above average in MLB, compared to their NL opponents they have a good one. Atlanta has the fifth-most Outs Above Average in the NL and the second-most in the NL East, per MLB Statcast.

With an increasingly hot lineup, an elite pitching staff, and a relatively good defense, the Braves will continue to be a difficult opponent and present great value to win the NL East for the fifth consecutive year.

Follow all of Joe Summers' betting picks here.