Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 9/13/12
The panic is brewing. Dont believe me? Read Twitter. Check out the message boards. Watch the local news. Fear and dread are running amok. Braves fans are beginning to board their windows and buy can goods, bracing themselves for another end-of-the-world collapse by their beloved team. Three losses in three days will do that folks who still suffering from the September Shakes caused by last years epic meltdown. The Brewers didnt just sweep the Braves, they bludgeoned them. Milwaukee outscored them 17-3 and held them to one measly extra-base hit in three games. Reeling from losing the final three of a six-game road trip that started so promising, the Braves return to Turner Field to face their nemesis. Yes, the Nationals are coming to town, holding an 8-game lead over the heads of the Braves, who are disappearing in their rearview mirror. Its not like the Braves much chance of winning the division anyway, but it appears memories of last September are starting to flood their brains. Theyre playing tight. They cant hit. They arent doing the little things that they do when theyre at their best (pitch and field). They know the Cardinals are only 5 games away in the wild-card race. The best thing going for the Braves is that Cardinals and Dodgers have also lost three straight and the Pirates have dropped six in a row. But the Brewers and Phillies are charging hard and are playing better than anybody else in the league. Lets take a look at the upcoming series and what the Braves need to do to turn things around. Get Bourn going Michael Bourn isnt getting on base, which is key to the offense. He hit .311 with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and 25 steals before the All-Star break, but is hitting .224 with two homers, 24 RBIs and 14 steals since. After hitting .324 in June, hes hit .250 in July, .243 in August and just .200 in September. It might be time to give Bourn a couple of days off, or if they keep him in the lineup, move him out of the leadoff spot. That might mean either batting Martin Prado first or moving Prado to second base and letting Jose Constanza play left and bat leadoff. Something has to be done because the Braves have scored two runs or less in 10 of their past 16 games. Loosen up the offense The Braves arent hitting many three-run home runs, which is Fredi Gonzalezs preferred way of scoring. That means they need to start manufacturing runs. Hit and run. Steal a base. Bunt every now and then. Something needs to be done to generate a spark. The Braves had 20 hits and left 19 runners on base in the three-game series against the Brewers, so theyre putting people on base. The problem? They had one extra-base hit and one RBI in those three games. Gonzalez has shown that hell tinker with the lineup and experiment from time to time remember, he batted the starting pitchers eighth for a stretch earlier this year so its time to try something else. Give Teheran a chance Paul Maholm has a 10.03 ERA this month and he hasnt made it out of the sixth inning in any of three his September starts. And that includes his 5 13 shutout innings against the Mets last Friday. Tommy Hanson hasnt pitched into the seventh inning in a while, and even though he has a 3.18 ERA this month, he seems to be on the brink of disaster in every start. Why not skip one of their starts and send top prospect Julio Teheran to the mound? I know, Teheran didnt have the best season at Gwinnett (7-9, 5.03) and struggled in his only start for the Braves this year (four runs in 4 13 innings), but Maholm and Hanson are laboring. If not Teheran, then Randall Delgado. They both finished strong at Gwinnett and neither has pitched since the rosters expanded, so they should be rested. If Teheran and Delgado are the future, then lets see what they can do in the present. And if nothing else works, maybe the Braves can mess with the schedule and play the Mets the rest of the season.
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