Projected Atlanta Braves Opening Day lineup if Ronald Acuña Jr. can't play

Projecting the Atlanta Braves Opening Day lineup if Ronald Acuña Jr. is unable to play due to injury.

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves were dealt unsettling news with their superstar outfielder, Ronald Acuña Jr., suffering a right knee injury. Acuña was scratched from Friday's lineup with knee soreness, and then it was reported that an MRI revealed that he was dealing with meniscus irritation.

While the Braves hope he'll be ready to play on Opening Day, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported that there is some concern there.

"Ronald Acuna’s right knee certainly has Atlanta officials concerned. He will fly to Los Angeles to undergo an examination by Dr. Neal ElAttrache to determine the cause of irritation around the meniscus in his surgically-repaired right knee."

Nightengale continued by saying if Acuña does need to undergo surgery, he'll miss at least the first month of the season, knocking him out for Opening Day. The Braves should be fine if Acuña only misses one month of action with the talent they have on their roster, but they need to make sure he doesn't re-aggravate the injury. Bringing in an external reinforcement should help immensely.

While we can only hope Acuña is ready to go for Opening Day, the chances of him missing that first game of the year are certainly higher than zero. With that in mind, let's take a look at what the Braves lineup could look like without the reigning NL MVP in it.

Projecting the Braves Opening Day lineup if Ronald Acuña Jr. begins the season on the Injured List

1. Michael Harris II - CF
2. Ozzie Albies - 2B
3. Austin Riley - 3B
4. Matt Olson - 1B
5. Marcell Ozuna - DH
6. Sean Murphy - C
7. Jarred Kelenic - LF
8. Orlando Arcia - SS
9. Forrest Wall - RF

Even without Acuña, this Braves lineup is extremely talented. There are threats from top to bottom, and there's every reason to believe that Atlanta will be more than fine for part of the regular season without him. They simply won't be the historically great offense that they were last season, which is really fine.

Taking Acuña's spot in the leadoff position is Michael Harris II, who has looked like a legitimate star in each of his first two MLB seasons. The rest of the lineup looks virtually the same as it would with Acuña in there except for the bottom. Acuña's replacement in right field as of now would have to be Forrest Wall, who has gotten off to an unreal start in Spring Training.

Wall has six hits in 13 at-bats thus far with three of those hits leaving the yard. He also leads the majors with nine RBI this spring. Obviously Spring Training stats are relatively meaningless, but without an established fourth outfielder on their roster Atlanta would be best off starting the player swinging the best bat. As of now, that's Wall.

It's less than ideal to be relying on the 28-year-old who has just 15 games and 15 plate appearances of MLB experience, but the Braves lineup is good enough to roster one subpar hitter at the bottom. Wall does provide excellent speed and is a good defender, although he's a bit inexperienced in right field.

Other internal options include players like J.P. Martinez, Jordan Luplow, and Eli White. The Braves can (and probably should) also look at the free agency market, where established veterans like Adam Duvall, Tommy Pham, and Michael A. Taylor remain available.

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