These Braves have put last season in the rearview, literally.
Sunday's 4-0 victory over the Marlins gave them 73 wins on the season, surpassing last year's total, and Atlanta is on pace to challenge for its first 90-win campaign since the last time it last took the division in 2013.
While the National League's highest-scoring offense quieted on the road trip -- scoring three runs or less four times -- it was dominant starting pitching that helped keep the Braves three games up in the National League East.
Those arms, and the remarkable Ronald Acuña Jr. headline the latest Three Cuts as we dive into the week that was -- and what lies ahead -- for Atlanta.
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1. Another reason to be in awe of Ronald Acuña Jr.'s rookie season
It doesn't take much digging to realize that Ronald Acuña Jr. is having not only one of the greatest rookie seasons in Braves history, but one of the best by any offense player in the past 30 years.
Acuña's 147 wRC+ ranks 15th among all first-year player since 1988, and David Justice -- who hit 38 percent above league average when he smacked 28 bombs in his Rookie of the Year season of 1990 -- is the next-closest Braves rookie to Acuña's 2018 season since Rico Carty (164 wRC+ in 1964).
The numbers get even more mind-boggling when you consider what Acuña did against the Marlins, who the Braves have now seen for the last time this season.
The 20-year-old's 12 extra-base hits against Miami are the most of any rookie against them, outdoing the 11 the Phillies' Nick Williams had last season, and puts Acuña in even more rarified air when discussing his age and the torment he's inflicted on a single opponent.
At 20, only Orlando Cepeda, Frank Robinson and Ted Williams could trump Acuña vs. the Marlins. Cepeda had 13 extra-base hits vs. the Milwaukee Braves both and Cardinals in 1958; Robinson had 14 against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Williams stunningly had 15 against the St. Louis Browns, Twins, Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics in 1939.
All of them, of course, are in the Hall of Fame.
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2. Braves rotation is kicking things up a notch in postseason push
Heading into Sunday's series finale against the Marlins, the Braves starting rotation had been spectacular in August. Its collective 2.54 ERA was bested by only the A's and Dodgers, and this has all come with the staff logging the second-most innings this month at 145, trailing only the Yankees' 148 1/3.
Kevin Gausman continued that run, allowing just one hit over his first four innings, giving Atlanta a ? ERA out of its staff for the month and helping to put it on track for one of the franchise's best Augusts in the past 16 years.
That's been highlighted by a 1.69 ERA out of Gausman over his first five starts in a Braves uniform and All-Star Mike Foltynewicz putting together a 1.38 in this stretch, along with strong debuts from Bryse Wilson and Touki Toussaint and a respectable 3.20 ERA from Anibal Sanchez.
But maybe the biggest eye-opener the consistency of Julio Teheran, who will open Tuesday's series against the Rays at SunTrust Park.
He's in the midst of a 2.45 ERA in four starts this month, and while it's included the Mets -- who he continues to victimize -- he's also shut down the Brewers (one earned over six), Rockies (two earned through seven) and Pirates (one earned in seven innings).
Dig deeper and since he gave up seven earned vs. the Orioles on June 23 and Teheran's has a 1.97 ERA in his last six starts at home. He continues to have one of the 10 highest FIPs in the majors (4.65) among starters at home, but Teheran's hot streak has helped the Braves weather a 5.48 ERA from Sean Newcomb this month.
With four games to play this month as they face the Rays twice and Cubs and Pirates once each, includes one of the highest-scoring offenses in the National League with Chicago and its 4.8 runs per game. But the other two are below league average on the season and Tampa Bay is averaging four runs per game this month (20th) and only three teams have been worse than Pittsburgh's 3.7 rpg.
Chasing the 2013 rotation, which ended August with a 2.54 ERA, Teheran will be followed by Newcomb (Rays), Foltynewicz (Cubs) and Sanchez (Pirates).
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3. Middle of Braves infield riding very different waves since All-Star break
Hitting .148/.217/.222 in his first 61 plate appearances over 18 games after the All-Star break, Dansby Swanson has responded by going 14 for 47 (.297), fueling an August in which he's had 93 wRC+.
Considering he hit 41 percent below league average in July and continues to play 7.9 fWAR defense -- and does a mighty fine Derek Jeter impersonation to boot -- it's a major uptick as the Braves rank 22nd in the majors with 1.5 WAR out of the position overall.
This season has already been a vast improvement over 2017, when Swanson was a minus-0.1 WAR player and hit 34 percent below league average.
But while he's trending upward, his double-play teammate Ozzie Albies didn't start Sunday vs. the Marlins, the second baseman's day relegated to a pinch-hit walk and two innings of work in the field. He scored the final run in Atlanta's 4-0 victory.
Albies is mired in a 4-for-30 (.133) slump in which's he's had zero extra-base hits and no RBI, his worst month of the season at 56 wRC+.
On the season, Albies' swinging strikes percentage has hovered around 11 percent, but it's jumped up considerably during his recent woes and has been at 18.8, 23.1 and 18.2 percent in the last three games, and 18 or higher in five of the last eight starts.
When Albies was on a tear in April and May, his swinging strike percent was at just nine percent.
Not surprisingly, pitchers are taking advantage of his aggressiveness with a percent of pitches in the strike zone that's dipped into the low 30 percent of late.
The 20-year-old bounced back from a down May (three percent below league average) to end the first half at 121, and while Brian Snitker has dropped Albies in the order to sixth over the past six starts, so far it's not paying off as he's had just three hits in 21 at-bats.