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View from the Other Side: Braves Questions for Kris Willis of Talking Chop

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New York Mets v Atlanta Braves - Game One Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

We have a two-game series with the Atlanta Braves starting tomorrow at Rogers Centre.

The Braves are tied at the top of the NL East with the Phillies, both teams are quite the surprise this year.

They are second in the NL in runs scored per game at 4.93 and are sixth in the NL in runs allowed per game at 4.17.

I sent off some questions to Kris Willis of Talking Chop, SB Nations very popular Braves blog and he was kind enough to answer them for us.

I see that Mike Soroka is on the DL. What is the injury? Is he likely to be back this year? He went to high school with my son so I’ve got a bit of an interest in him.

Let me first say that we love Mike Soroka and are really high on him as a prospect. He is currently on the 60-day disabled list due to a shoulder problem. This is his second trip to the DL for the same issue so the Braves are being really cautious with him. He has not been ruled out for the season but after being on the shelf for roughly 8 weeks he will need to time to ramp up and regain his endurance. We haven’t completely ruled out seeing him again in September but it doesn’t feel like it is a certainty either.

What will the Braves be looking for at the trade deadline? Could I interest you in slightly used catcher, whose bats are in pristine condition (mostly because they hasn’t made hard contact with a pitch all season)? Maybe you would like a center fielder who comes complete with Superman cape?

This a great question because no one really knows the answer but those guys in the front office. The Braves have been rumored to be in the Manny Machado chase. They have also been linked to Mike Moustakas since last offseason but I feel that is more of the media just connecting dots than anything real. Atlanta will likely be looking for some bullpen upgrades at the deadline unless Alex Anthopoulos can make a splash with a big move. It is tough to see the Blue Jays as a trading partner. Can’t really see a use for Martin and the outfield is pretty much set at least until the offseason. That is unless you guys are willing to sell real low on your third baseman.

The Braves are in a tight race for a playoff spot. How confident are you that you’ll be seeing playoff baseball in Atlanta this year?

I’m a whole lot more confident now than I was at the start of the season. We came into 2018 thinking that the Braves were about a year away from truly contending. However, the team got off to a great start and has exceeded expectations. Combine that with the struggles of the Nationals and there is reason to be excited. There is still a long way to go but the Braves have at least put themselves in the position where they can reasonably be buyers at the deadline.

Who is your favorite Brave to watch?

Ozzie Albies without a doubt. Here is a guy that has blown away expectations and deserves a lot of credit for the Braves’ rise to the top of the division. There is nothing more exciting than watching this guy run the bases. He always has a smile on his face and he plays the game hard. Keep an eye out for that over this two game series.

Can we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers we are likely to see?

The Blue Jays will see Julio Teheran on Tuesday in the opener. Teheran has been up and down and allowed five runs in his last start against the Yankees. He has been pretty inconsistent this season where he has looked dominant at times but has struggled in others. He is a veteran who knows how to pitch but has often struggled while pitching at SunTrust Park.

Atlanta hasn’t announced a starter for Wednesday yet due to an injury to Max Fried. The team has some options though as they could opt to start Mike Foltynewicz as he will be on regular rest thanks to Monday’s off day. The team also has Luiz Gohara back on the big league roster and could opt to give him a spot start. If it is Foltynewicz, he also deserves credit for the Braves’ good start. He has been lights out for most of the season and has put up an All-Star caliber first half.

I was kind of looking forward to seeing Ronald Acuna. When is he likely to be back? It must be nice to get to watch a top prospect, instead of just hearing about him and seeing his name at the top of the prospects lists.

Acuña suffered a strained groin in Friday’s game in Milwaukee. The injury was thought to be minor although the Braves played it safe with him while holding him out both Saturday and Sunday. With the off day on Monday I am fully expecting to see him back in there for Tuesday’s series opener.

What do you think about Alex Anthopoulos? Can he still fill an interview with many many words and yet no real information?

Alex Anthopoulos was my pick to take over after John Coppolella’s regime came tumbling down during the offseason. I think Braves fans see Anthopoulos as a smart executive and have a lot of confidence in his decision making. He is a good interview and has actually given up some valuable information from time to time. So far he has taken a deliberate approach with the Braves but I am expecting a very active offseason.

Thanks Kris.