Five things we’ve learned about the Braves in first two weeks

Braves first baseman Matt Olson has been everything that he was advertised to be. (Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

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Braves first baseman Matt Olson has been everything that he was advertised to be. (Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

LOS ANGELES — The Braves, manager Brian Snitker said, would have loved to win Wednesday’s series finale at Dodger Stadium. This would have given them a series win and a winning record on their seven-game trip to the West Coast.

“But like I always say, we haven’t even scratched the surface of what we’re capable of yet,” he said. “But guys are hanging in there and working. That’s pretty much all you can ask.

“We’ll be fine.”

The Braves are 6-8. After 14 games in 14 days, Thursday is their first off-day of the season.

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Here are five things we’ve learned in the season’s first two weeks.

1. The lineup is going to hit consistently

Yes, the Braves probably have frustrated you with a couple of their offensive performances. But most indicators say they will be fine.

As of Wednesday, the Braves ranked third in baseball with an average exit velocity of 90 mph. They ranked 11th in on-base plus slugging percentage (.711), 10th in runs scored (54) and 14th in batting average (.233).

Something else to consider: The Braves rank 15th in MLB in batting average on balls in play (.280). This indicates they have perhaps received some bad luck, especially because they’re hitting balls hard (as evidenced by their average exit velocity).

Plus, the Braves are still without Ronald Acuña (more soon on how that’s affected them).

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Braves reliever Tyler Matzek has a 2.25 ERA over four innings this season. (Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com)

Braves reliever Tyler Matzek has a 2.25 ERA over four innings this season. (Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com)

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Braves reliever Tyler Matzek has a 2.25 ERA over four innings this season. (Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com)

2. The bullpen is going to be a strength

No bullpen is perfect, but the Braves appear to have a strong unit.

You could see it on paper, and now you’ve seen it in action. Even without Luke Jackson (elbow ligament surgery), they are strong from top to bottom.

The Braves bullpen’s 3.78 ERA ranks No. 22 in MLB, but that is deceiving. It takes into account former Brave Sean Newcomb (7.20 ERA), Tucker Davidson (16.88) and even Kenley Jansen (5.40).

A closer look is required.

Jansen’s ERA is inflated because he allowed three runs in his first outing, but he’s pitched four scoreless innings, earning three saves, since then. A.J. Minter has a 1.93 ERA over 4⅔ innings. Tyler Matzek has a 2.25 ERA over four innings. Spencer Strider has a 1.00 ERA over nine frames.

These are only a few examples.

The Braves have played only two weeks of baseball, but their bullpen appears strong.

3. Olson is as advertised

Will Matt Olson hit .400 with a 1.156 OPS for the entire year like he is right now?

No, but he’s made this much clear: The Braves didn’t take a step back when they moved on from Freddie Freeman.

Freeman is a great player, but Olson is younger, cheaper and signed for longer. Oh, and he’s performing at an incredible level through the first two weeks of the season.

Olson not only possesses power, but also has great plate discipline. He is a tough at-bat. He plays great defense.

The Braves are in great hands at first base.

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Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. is expected to return in the first week of May, and that will be a huge boost to this lineup. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. is expected to return in the first week of May, and that will be a huge boost to this lineup. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. is expected to return in the first week of May, and that will be a huge boost to this lineup. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

4. The Braves need Acuña

Yes, the Braves won a World Series without Acuña. Yes, they have many talented players.

But don’t listen to anyone who tries to downplay Acuña’s importance to the Braves because of that.

They need him. He is expected to return in the first week of May, and that will be a huge boost to this lineup.

Through two weeks, the Braves have struggled to string much together. They’ve grinded at-bats and scored runs, but they haven’t had many game-changing swings.

One reason: They’re not getting enough men on base for their best hitters. Consider this: The Braves’ past 15 home runs have been solo shots. Austin Riley’s two-run homer is their only home run that was not of the solo variety.

Dansby Swanson leads MLB with 22 strikeouts in 49 at-bats. Eddie Rosario is 3-for-37 this season. Adam Duvall has had a couple of huge hits, but is batting only .200.

Acuña, who will lead off upon returning, will make the lineup deeper and more dynamic. He will help take the pressure off others.

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Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz (left), bench coach Walt Weiss (center) and manager Brian Snitker think the team hasn't even scratched the surface of what it is capable of this season. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz (left), bench coach Walt Weiss (center) and manager Brian Snitker think the team hasn't even scratched the surface of what it is capable of this season. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz (left), bench coach Walt Weiss (center) and manager Brian Snitker think the team hasn't even scratched the surface of what it is capable of this season. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

5. Depth could be an issue

Acuña’s return could help this cause, but the Braves’ depth could be an issue.

They have one backup infielder (Orlando Arcia), and he also plays in the outfield. Alex Dickerson, who has been a designated hitter, has one hit in 22 at-bats to begin the season.

With the designated hitter, teams don’t use as many players. That means clubs can get away with having a thinner bench. But the Braves are looking to contend, and one of their best assets last season was their quality depth and production off the bench.

We haven’t seen much of that yet.