Chopcast: Braves face adversity, still on track

ATLANTA — Pittsburgh was not kind to the Braves’ MLB-best start, as the Braves dropped three games in the four-game series. Including Atlanta’s last home game — a 1-0 loss to Wade Davis and the Royals — the team has now dropped four of its last five outings.

So what’s been the difference?

Well, for starters, the offense has sputtered during the rough stretch, scoring just seven runs over the past five games. The struggles continue for Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla — three of the team’s four highest-paid hitters, each of whom is batting below .200 — and B.J.’s brother, Justin, has cooled off of late. Add that into the fact that cleanup man and first baseman Freddie Freeman has missed the past 13 games with an oblique injury. (He is set to come of the 15-day disabled list this week.)

All that said, though, the pitching and defense remain among baseball’s elite and the team’s role players continue to contribute. The Chopcast team discusses what’s next for the Braves, potential solutions for the lineup and the team’s dominant pitching to date. Here are the highlights:

— Are the Braves too reliant on the home run ball? The team struggled to manufacture runs in Pittsburgh. Is that a trend or just too small a sample size?

— Life is not always fair, especially for starting pitchers. Trivia question: Who is the last remaining undefeated pitcher in the Braves’ starting rotation. (Hint: It’s not who it should be because, again, life is not always fair.)

— Thoughts on Heyward’s slow start and how long manager Fredi Gonzalez should keep him plugged in at the 2-spot in the lineup.

— Obligatory Neil Diamond discussion.

— Should B.J. Upton or Andrelton Simmons be batting leadoff? Does it matter?

— Are strikeouts actually becoming an issue?

— What’s the strangest fact about the Reese Witherspoon arrest?

— Should a person rely on the word of Bobby Cox when choosing a plumber? (Heated discussion ensues.)