The Atlanta Braves continue to flounder as possibly the most disappointing team in the National League so far this season. After falling 4-2 to the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, the Braves have lost five straight games for the first time in nearly seven years, per David O'Brien of The Athletic.

Braves lose 4-2 at Baltimore, and now have their first 5-game losing streak since September 2017, the year before they began their current streak of six consecutive NL East titles.”

After being shut out by Baltimore on Tuesday, the Braves struggled to generate any offense for the second straight game. After Matt Olson finally broke through and tied the game at 2-2 with a two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning, Atlanta reliever Joe Jiminez turned around and allowed a two-run shot of his own – the game winner to Colton Cowser.

The Braves' hitting has been alarmingly and inexplicably bad from a lineup that is virtually the same as it was in 2023, when they tied a major league record with 307 homers, had an .845 OPS that was 50 points better than baseball’s second-highest, and set a record with a .501 slugging percentage.

Atlanta has dealt with injuries to Ronald Acuna (out for the season), Sean Murphy (missed 40 games), and Austin Riley (missed two weeks), but – aside from Marcell Ozuna – virtually every player in the Braves' lineup has regressed from last season. Whether that's a function of a team regressing to the mean after every infielder was named an All-Star last season or a lineup that is built to swing for the fences is struggling now that the ball is leaving the park with as much frequency is unclear.

Braves' Austin Riley – continues to struggle despite good swings

Atlanta Braves third base Austin Riley (27) hits a single during the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
© Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

Riley is a notoriously streaky hitter so far in his career. He was around league average last year and then slugged a mammoth .601 in the second half of the season. In 2022, his slugging percentage was an absurd .885 in July. The year before that, he slugged .599 in the second half. This is essentially the player that Riley is. He lies in wait and then erupts later in the season.

But there may be possibly no player that is putting good swings on the ball with little result to show for it. Constantly raking the ball just foul, or to the warning track, the Braves third basement is hitting a lot of loud outs, and right at a time when his team needs some offense.

A hitters' pull percentage is a good representative of contact point and timing, and though Riley’s pull rate is only down a little bit, it does coincides with a downturn in production against the fastball. He slugged .482 on the four-seam fastball last year, and it’s down to .188 this year.

It's easy to assume that better performance is coming from Riley, but the Braves need it to happen ASAP if they're going to get things going in time to ensure a postseason berth.