The heart of the Atlanta Braves sunk Wednesday night. After a dominating stretch, during which Atlanta had won four of its last five games and was closing in on winning its fifth in six, superstar Freddie Freeman was plunked on the left wrist in the fifth inning, resulting in his removal from the game.
X-Rays taken soon after were inconclusive, but a CT scan and an MRI on Thursday showed a fracture. Freeman will be out for at least two months. This is a major blow to the Braves — not only is Freeman one of the best offensive players in the National League, he’s also the backbone of a rebuilding team.
Source: #Braves’ Freeman has a fractured left wrist. Expectation is that he will miss at least eight weeks.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 18, 2017
Freddie Freeman Injury Leaves Atlanta Shaken
The End of a Run
Freeman has been arguably the best hitter in the National League so far this season. In fact, he’s been the best hitter in all of baseball since last June — he appears in the top four of all major offensive categories in that time frame, including first in home runs.
Freeman was on pace for career-high stats across the board, plus a possible first time All-Star starting nod. Instead, he’s gone until the All-Star break, and Atlanta is left struggling with a massive hole in the middle of their lineup.
Options at First Base
One of the problems the Braves never addressed for this season was a back-up option for Freeman. Now, that decision has come to the forefront.
Atlanta thought about using Ryan Howard as a back-up first baseman, but his struggles in Triple-A Gwinnett prompted his release. Another option would be third baseman Adonis Garcia. However, he was just sidelined with Achilles tendinitis, although he will be back before Freeman is.
The most likely internal option would be third base prospect Rio Ruiz. Ruiz has struggled mightily his entire minor league career against left-handed pitching, but the options are bare on the farm. With no true backup at the major league level, he seems the most likely fit.
Whatever the player they choose to fill in, they won’t come close to replicating Freeman’s production. The identity of the team is composed around his presence in the lineup. Without him, the Braves are a shell of themselves. Expect dark times for the Atlanta Braves the next two months.