It's been a rough month for the Atlanta Braves. And after Sunday, in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, it got even worse after the team received confirmation that star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL in his left knee.

Acuña's injury is now the second season-ending injury for a Braves starter this season after not even a full two months of play. Ace flamethrower Spencer Strider was the first to go down with an elbow injury. But Atlanta has also had multiple other injuries scattered throughout this early part of the season that have done them no favors in their quest to win their seventh division title. Moreover, it's done them no favors to get back to the World Series, to which they were an early-season favorite.

Strider's injury was one thing. But plugging in a guy every fifth day is a lot easier than finding an everyday guy like Acuña, especially as the team's leadoff hitter. Last year's National League MVP played in all but three games for the Braves last season.

As demoralizing as Acuña's injury was to himself, the Braves, and their fans, all hope should not be lost. This team is still capable of accomplishing their goals, that being, of course, the World Series.

Remember what happened last time Acuña went down

Nov 5, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Confetti on the ground after the World Series championship rally for the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Many thought the Braves' season was dead and done when Acuña went down with his first major ACL injury back in 2021. But then all Atlanta did was win the National League East Division for the fourth consecutive time with just 88 wins and then won the World Series on what was a rather dominating postseason run. The Braves have been here before and proved they could survive without Acuña. Who's to say they can't do it again?

The Braves are still talented offensively

No, this isn't the onslaught of an offense the Braves sent out onto the field night in and night out from last season. But it is still one that has a ton of potential to catch fire and catapult this team right back in the race for the division.

Although they're six games back of the Phillies in the East, they still have a 30-20 record, which would be good enough to get into the Wild Card round if the regular season ended today. The offense still resides in the top 15 in the league in runs and homers and top 10 in slashing. Sean Murphy is set to be back this week. If he, Olson, and Riley, once he returns, can start to hit their stride, this team is right back in the thick of things.

Starting pitching has been a bright spot for the team this season

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Chris Sale (51) pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Truist Park.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Offense was the story of the Braves in 2023, but so far in 2024, it's the starting pitching that is keeping the Braves in the running. Chris Sale has been the most pleasant of surprises this season. He's one of the main reasons for the Braves' pitching success. He is 8-1 and has just a 2.12 ERA in 63.2 innings pitched.

Max Fried, in what will likely be his swan song season in Atlanta, has also become unhittable. After a rough start, in his last six games, Fried has just a 1.70 ERA, going at least seven innings or more through four of those games.

And who can forget the real surprise in Reynaldo Lopez, who has a 1.75 ERA after nine games? These three, along with Charlie Morton and whichever pitcher the Braves decide to use as Spencer Strider's replacement, give Atlanta the sixth-best ERA in the MLB currently.

Braves could benefit from a change of strategy

The Braves have won six straight division titles, but after they won the World Series in 2021, they've more or less dominated the East division. The last two seasons, the Braves have been 100-plus game winners, and yet they've been bounced out of the playoffs in their first appearance, winning just two combined games.

The Philadelphia Phillies, however, have countered the Braves' regular season domination with domination in the postseason, and have knocked their rivals out of the postseason the last two years. Now it's the Phillies who are ruling the NL East with a six-game lead and Atlanta reeling.

Could the roles reverse this season? Could the Phillies peak in the regular season and fade out in the postseason? The Braves could be fighting for wins the rest of the year. They are looking more and more like a Wild Card team instead of division champions.

Jared Kelenic and Adam Duvall signings looking worth it now

Outside of the trade for Chris Sale from the Boston Red Sox, the trade for Jared Kelenic from the Seattle Mariners was the most notable move from the Braves in the offseason. Granted, like most of Anthopoulos' deals, it came with doubt and uncertainty and a lot of “What's he doing?” As good as Kelenic has been defensively, it's been his offense that has been lacking, which was a carryover from the Mariners.

However, if there was ever a time for Kelenic to get hot, it's right now. Before Monday, in his last five games, he's 7-for-21 with seven hits, two doubles, one homer, two RBIs, one walk, and one strikeout, slashing .350/.381/.600 with an OPS of .981.

Duvall, now 35, was signed initially to platoon with Kelenic, but it looks like now he'll be a mainstay in the outfield in Acuña's absence. Maybe with more at-bats, Duvall will see a spark back in his bat. He's batting just .207 in 82 at-bats. He has three hits in his last five appearances.