Atlanta Braves Star Ronald Acuña Jr. Tears ACL, Out for the Season

The Atlanta Braves are one of Major League Baseball’s best teams, but this might be too much for them to overcome. Already without their best starting pitcher for the rest of 2024, Spencer Strider, they lost reigning National League MVP, Ronald Acuña Jr. to a torn ACL on Sunday.

He injured himself in the first inning while trying to steal third base in that afternoon’s Braves’ win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. An MRI on Sunday night confirmed the severity of the injury.

In 2021, Acuña tore the ACL in his right knee trying to make a play in the outfield. This time, the injury is to his left knee.

The Braves finished Sunday’s action six games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East, and they are now paying +125 to win the division. Last week, the Braves and Phillies were -115 to win the division. Today, Philadelphia is the favorite at -165.

Possible Acuña Replacements

To be clear, no one on the Braves roster, or any roster, can replace Acuña. But the Braves do need to find someone who can help cover the massive hole they now have in their lineup. When they were missing him in 2021, they did still win the World Series. So they’ve been down this road before, and they know what it will take to not let the season totally get away from them.

The Chicago White Sox are on a road to nowhere this season, and almost anyone on the roster should be available. The most likely target is Tommy Pham, who was a deadline trade last year to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who ended up winning the N.L. pennant. He is 36-years-old, but for a one-year rental, he fits the bill. Pham is currently playing for his eighth Major League team.

Anything that isn’t nailed down should be fair game for the Oakland A’s. One such trade asset is Brent Rooker, who made the All-Star team last year in his first season of consistent play at the big league level. A trade of Rooker for young talent that will be ready by the time Las Vegas becomes a reality seems like something that Oakland should be initiating.

Another often-moved former All-Star is Jesse Winker, now of the Washington Nationals. He’s played for the Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, and Milwaukee Brewers. He probably wouldn’t be more than a platoon player in the Atlanta outfield, but he also wouldn’t cost much.

The Braves options inside their own clubhouse are limited. Adam Duvall is on the roster, but the 35-year-old is batting just .207. At Triple-A, the Braves have Forrest Wall, who was one of the team’s better players in the spring. At least in the short-term, there is also J.P. Martinez, who was called up by Atlanta to fill Acuña’s spot on the roster for the moment.

If Martinez struggles, Wall might get the next look. But if the position doesn’t stabilize in the next couple of weeks, a trade becomes likely.

Betting Repercussions

Overall, the odds of the Braves making it to the postseason didn’t take too much of a hit, just like when Strider went down in early April. There are still reasons to believe in this team.

Atlanta is now the underdog to win the division, but they are still paying -5000 to make the playoffs. To win the National League, Atlanta is +340, which has them behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Phillies. A week ago, they were the second betting favorite to win the World Series, and now they are fourth, paying +650.

Acuña is off the board as a potential MVP winner, with Mookie Betts settling in as the favorite at +140. Shohei Ohtani is hoping to be the first DH to win the MVP, and he is playing +400. Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras is at +800, and Bryce Harper of the Phillies has seen his odds shorten to +1000.

© Copyright 2024 -