- Paul Swydan, ESPN Insider
The Atlanta Braves have been a top-15 team in the ESPN Power Rankings for most of the season, but lately they have cemented themselves in the top 10. This week marks their fourth straight in the top 10, and they have climbed into the top five for the first time since June 11. The Braves continue to overcome injuries to their pitching staff and are poised to leapfrog the Washington Nationals in the final two months of the season.
The Braves have had to scramble a bit in regard to their starting rotation. Brandon Beachy blowing out his arm wasn't part of the plan nor was Jair Jurrjens' continued regression into oblivion. Tommy Hanson's injury problems could have been foreseen, but certainly the Braves were hopeful that he would be healthy this season.
But each time someone falls, someone steps up.
Ben Sheets has a 1.46 ERA and 1.95 FIP in four starts for Atlanta. Sure, it's just four starts, but who thought Sheets had even one more major league start left in him? Newly acquired Paul Maholm should fit in nicely as a league-average innings muncher who the team can count on every five days.
Paul Swydan of FanGraphs writes that when the Washington Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg in another month or so, the Atlanta Braves will be in a good position to take over the NL East.