Braves look to buck post All-Star break rut

Braves look to buck post All-Star break rut

DENVER -- Two weeks after entering the All-Star break feeling good about how they had fared over the previous month, the Braves once again find themselves in the midst of one of those frustration-filled stretches they were hoping to avoid during the season's second half.

The Braves came out of the break looking forward to the opportunity to spend two weeks tidying their ugly record with games against the Rockies, Reds and Twins. But instead of taking advantage of the chance to get healthier against other teams with sub .500 records, Atlanta has instead been routinely introduced to the disappointment felt on Sunday afternoon, when they were swept out of Coors Field with a 7-2 loss to the Rockies.

"Any team in the big leagues is capable of doing anything on any given day, but we felt like we had a chance to make up some ground and win some games," Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "Instead, we went 1-6 and went the opposite way."

Francoeur was simply focusing on this current road trip, which has included losing two of three in Cincinnati and each of the four games played this weekend at Coors Field, where they have lost 10 straight dating back to 2014. But it should also be noted that they also lost two of three to the Rockies last weekend in Atlanta and thus have gone 2-8 since the break.

This is certainly not what the Braves had envisioned when they entered the break having won 13 of their past 25 games, including three of the last four. That stretch provided some hope of avoiding the franchise's first 100-loss season since 1988.

But the results produced over these past two weeks against this level of competition has once again provided reason to believe the Braves will not be able to avoid a triple-digit loss total. They will enter Tuesday's series opener in Minnesota on pace to go 54-108, which would equate to the worst winning percentage in Atlanta history.

"I feel like they're fighting and grinding," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's just not happening right now. Injuries, everybody has those. So we're not any different than anybody else. We're just having a hard time scoring runs."

There's no doubt the Braves miss power potential starting catcher Tyler Flowers was providing before he suffered a fractured left hand two days before the break. But it could be argued that Flowers' absence has had an equal impact on some of the young pitchers, like Matt Wisler, who has struggled as Atlanta's rotation has posted a 5.55 ERA over the past 10 games.

Though the Braves want to get younger as soon as possible, they will not rush Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies to the Majors at the expense of stunting their development. Thus, to produce a level of respectability over the remainder of the season, they have to hope Freddie Freeman gets back into a groove and both Wisler and Mike Foltynewicz enrich their respective developments as big league starting pitchers.

"We're trying to get it back and get it going," Francoeur said. "We just haven't been able to and that's the frustrating part. Everybody is putting the work in, there's just no results."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.