Posted on July 27, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The quest to win a second straight NL East title just got a little more difficult for the Atlanta Braves. On Saturday, the club placed both outfielder Nick Markakis and shortstop Dansby Swanson on the 10-day Injured List. Markakis has a fractured left wrist that could keep him sidelined for an extended period of time. Swanson, on the other hand, has a right foot contusion that the club hopes will heal quickly.
Markakis was hit by a pitch in the 6th inning of Friday’s win over the Phillies. He left the game and has since been diagnosed with a fractured wrist. The Braves have not indicated a specific timeline for Markakis. However, it seems likely that Markakis will miss at least four to six weeks, keeping him sidelined until September. This will be the first time Markakis has gone on the IL since 2012.
The 35-year-old has put together another solid season for Atlanta. Serving as the team’s primary right fielder, Markakis is hitting .284 with an OPS of .787, stats that are in line with his career numbers. The Braves have called up Adam Duvall to take his spot on the roster. Duvall and fellow veteran Matt Joyce will likely share playing time in right field while Markakis is out. Super-utility man Johan Camargo could also see time there. However, it’s hard not to envision some drop-off in productivity without Markakis playing every day.
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As for Swanson, he sat out games on both Wednesday and Friday because of heel soreness before the Braves put him on the IL Saturday. He hurt himself on Tuesday while stepping on 1st base awkwardly trying to earn an infield single. The Braves hoped the issue would subside quickly, but they’ve determined that it’s serious enough to send Swanson to the IL.
“He’s still quite a bit sore in that heel,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said on Friday. “It’s a little worse than what we anticipated. It’s a tough thing to play through.”
The 25-year-old Swanson has enjoyed a slight resurgence this season. After disappointing campaigns in 2017 and 2018, he’s hitting .265 with an OPS of .798. Swanson has helped provide Atlanta’s lineup with some much-needed depth. Without him, the Braves will lean on Camargo to get most of the playing time at shortstop. Another option could be Charlie Culberson, who has excelled offensively in a part-time role this year, hitting .329 with an OPS of .915.
This is a particularly bad time for the Braves to be losing two everyday players to injury. Friday’s game started a stretch of six in a row against the Phillies and Nationals, the two teams chasing Atlanta in the NL East. If the Braves end up with a losing record over those six games, their lead atop the division will quickly shrink.
At the moment, the Braves lead the Nationals by 5.5 games and the Phillies by 6.5 games. However, the NL East is far from decided. Losing Markakis and Swanson simultaneously is obviously a big blow. On the bright side, Atlanta’s August schedule is favorable with only six games against teams with winning records. However, with two everyday players lost to injury at the same time, the Braves could struggle to maintain a somewhat comfortable lead atop the NL East.