ATLANTA -- As appealing as it might be to wonder just how formidable the Braves' lineup might be with Freddie Freeman and Matt Adams both in it on a regular basis over the remainder of this season, there are definite defensive shortcomings to this powerful arrangement, which weakens the club
ATLANTA -- As appealing as it might be to wonder just how formidable the Braves' lineup might be with Freddie Freeman and Matt Adams both in it on a regular basis over the remainder of this season, there are definite defensive shortcomings to this powerful arrangement, which weakens the club at both corner-infield spots.
Adams' struggles against southpaws have led Braves manager Brian Snitker to sit him against each of the three left-handed starters the club has faced since Freeman returned from the disabled list with the selfless willingness to switch corners and become a third baseman.
So with the Cubs starting Jonathan Lester on Monday night at SunTrust Park, Freeman was back at his familiar first-base position. He provided a reminder of just how valuable his glove can be on the right side as he made run-saving plays in the fifth and sixth innings of a 4-3 loss.
"I told him during one of the pitching changes, 'We're probably sitting here [down] 8-1 if you don't make those plays,'" Snitker said. "Those were huge."
While there is a chance the Braves could deal Adams before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, it appears they are leaning toward keeping the left-handed slugger for the remainder of this season with the hope his presence might help them in their bid to possibly gain a postseason berth. There's also a chance that the addition of more potential suitors during the offseason might bring a greater return than this month might bring.
Adams batted .298 with 12 homers and a 1.009 OPS through the first 31 games for the Braves after being acquired from the Cardinals, three days after Freeman fractured his left wrist in May. He has hit .273 with two homers and a .808 OPS over the 16 games that have followed.
While Adams has certainly proven to be serviceable at first base, he doesn't provide the same kind of defensive presence there as Freeman, who made his first run-saving stop on Monday night during the fifth inning, when -- with the bases loaded -- he leaned to his left to smother a two-out grounder that came off Kyle Schwarber's bat with a 110.6-mph exit velocity.
Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran was fortunate yet again in the sixth inning, with a pair of runners in scoring position and two outs. Freeman secured a grounder that came off Benjamin Zobrist's bat with a 95.5-mph exit velocity.
"I'm glad we were facing Lester, so [Freeman] was over there," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "Who knows, Adams might have had them, too. But those were impressive plays for sure."
Like Adams at first base, Freeman has been serviceable thus far as a third baseman. But as the Braves move forward, they must decide whether they are willing to take a chance on the possibility that a power-laden lineup will be capable of overcoming the potential defensive shortcomings at both corner-infield spots.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.