Atlanta Braves, Tyler Matzek. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Braves fell short in their World Series defense, but if a few key players outperform their 2022 seasons, the club can get back to the Fall Classic.
Make no mistake, it was a magical run for the Atlanta Braves over the second half of the regular season. After trailing the Mets by double-digit games in the NL East race at one point, the defending World Series champions stormed back to take the division crown. It was remarkable — or at least it was until the postseason.
The Braves fell to the Phillies in hard-to-swallow fashion as they met in the NLDS with Philadelphia also getting hot, especially after also knocking off the Mets in the Wild Card series. That left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, one that only got a bit worse later in the offseason when the club officially lost Dansby Swanson in free agency to the Cubs.
With that said, Atlanta still will go into the 2023 season among the favorites to win the World Series. They have an exceptionally strong young core, acquired a Top 2 catcher in the Sean Murphy trade, and are primed to make another run. For that to happen, though, the Braves do need some of their stars to perform better than they did in 2022.
Yes, Ozzie Albies needs to stay healthy. And there’s probably not a lot of hope for Marcell Ozuna at this point. But beyond that, these three players need to outperform their 2022 seasons for the Braves to get back to the World Series.
Table of Contents
- Introduction: A reliever who needs to bounce back
- Page 2: This slugger needs to be more consistent
- Page 3: No question, he needs an MVP-type year
Atlanta Braves: 3 players who must outperform 2022 to return to World Series
RP Atlanta Braves
Tyler Matzek needs to return to being the Braves’ dominant reliever
En route to the 2021 World Series victory, one of the faces that emerged for the franchise was southpaw reliever Tyler Matzek. He was completely dominant in the postseason, allowing just 10 hits and 14 total baserunners along with only three earned runs over 15.2 innings pitched. He stepped up as an elite seventh-inning-type option for Atlanta.
And really, that was a continuation of everything he did throughout the 2021 season. Matzek appeared in 69 games and posted a terrific 2.57 ERA with a wild 169 ERA+ for the season. Those numbers, however, didn’t hold up this past year.
Injuries kept Matzek off the field a bit as he was limited to only 42 appearances on the season but the ailments also seemed to affect his performance as well. His ERA rose to 3.50 on the year while his ERA+ plummeted to just 117. He was still a solid arm out of the bullpen for the Braves, but he wasn’t the absolute force that he was the year prior.
Now heading into the 2023 season, Atlanta needs the 32-year-old to stay healthy and return closer to the form he showed in both 2020 and 2021 for this bullpen to operate at peak efficiency. He’s proven he’s capable and the hope would be that a clean bill of health stays that way and he can shake off the rust that his absences seemingly led to a season ago.