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What will the Braves do as the trade deadline, division title push looms?
Adam Duvall sustained a wrist injury during a game on Saturday, July 23, resulting in the confirmation of season-ending surgery he will undergo. (Photo courtesy of AP)

The 2022 MLB season has reached the 100-game mark for most teams, with the Atlanta Braves sitting at a 59-41 record and three games behind the NL East division-leading New York Mets as of Thursday, July 28.

After weathering a rough first 50 games that resulted in 23-27 record, the Braves have been one of the strongest teams in the league, posting a 36-14 record that included a 14-game winning streak. 

At this point in the season, the focus for the team is catching the Mets. The most recent set of games have seen ups and downs that showed where the team has progressed as well as which areas need improvement if the team is looking for another playoff run.

There are four positions where the Braves could use an extra boost heading into the postseason — starting pitcher, outfielder, relief pitcher and second baseman. The higher-ups in the organization will have plenty to mull over before the trade deadline on Aug. 2. 

A need for one additional consistent starting pitcher has been a task for the Braves all season and was on full display in a recent loss against the struggling Angels. 

Ian Anderson’s consistency issues were exposed against Anaheim, as he gave up seven runs in three innings. Although that start was preceded by three solid starts, his start against the Angels was his second seven-run outing in the past month.

Despite showing flashes of brilliance in sporadic games, he has a 5.31 earned run average in 19 starts.

Having one more consistent starting pitcher to join the blazing trio of Fried, Strider and Wright could make all the difference in winning the division. 

Now that the Braves’ plan to potentially call up Kyle Muller from AAA Gwinnett is nixed due to an injury, one MLB pitcher who could be a solid addition is Brad Keller of the Kansas City Royals, whose past six starts have produced a 2.97 ERA, according to Braves fan site Tomahawk Take.

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With the season-ending wrist surgery Adam Duvall will undergo after an injury sustained against the Angels, the Braves may consider adding another outfielder instead of relying on Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna, who have struggled offensively. 

Duvall has been a popular figure with players and fans alike since joining the team last summer for his second spell with the Braves.

“It's tough because of the person he is,” manager Brian Snitker said. “They don't make them better than Adam Duvall. No greater teammate.”

The positive caveat in that situation is that only one outfield position needs to be filled since the meteoric rise of rookie Michael Harris II has taken hold.

A potential option in the outfield who could also boost the team’s offense is 2022 All-Star Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs. A switch-hitter with a high contact rate, it remains to be seen if his asking price would be too steep for the Braves.

Perhaps the most difficult position to replace is that of second baseman Ozzie Albies, whose tangible contributions and pure energy are not easy to replicate.

With Albies out due to a fractured foot at least until the end of August, the Braves need someone to help fill that hole, especially if the team is cautious to allow Albies to come back before the end of the regular season.

One player who could man the middle infield and contribute offensively is Jose Iglesias of the Colorado Rockies, who is a consistent hitter at a .302 batting average and has 91 hits in 82 games according to Baseball Reference.

The final area of concern surrounds that of enigmatic closer Will Smith. For all of the thrilling moments he has provided in the past two years, his current form is likely not sustainable for a playoff run. 

With seven earned runs given up in just his past four outings, Smith needs to have a replacement from either within the bullpen or from another team. 

One option is Cubs reliever David Robertson, who is more well known for his successful tenures with the New York Yankees.

Posting a 1.83 ERA so far this season, Robertson could bring much-needed stability to the Braves bullpen. 

The Braves had an off day today and will begin a three-game home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks tomorrow, followed by a pair of home games against division rivals Philadelphia starting on Tuesday, Aug. 2.