Acuña Matata: It Means No Worries!

Photo by Mike Zarilli/MLB via Getty Images

Is Ronald Acuña Jr. the early favorite for MVP on the 2021 season? Just shy of a month into the season, Acuña Jr. was cruising before Braves fans took a gasp during Sunday Night Baseball when he exited the game versus the Chicago Cubs in the 4th inning with pain in his lower abdominal muscles.

Acuña Jr., the Atlanta Braves 23 year old superstar, was tearing into the baseball during the first 16 games of the season. Leading the league in HR (7), Hits (26), Runs (21) and Slugging (.887) as well as second in Average (.419) and RBI’s (16), the National League East could see the second straight MVP to come from there division. Oh by the way, the 2020 MVP, Freddie Freeman, also on the Braves roster.

With the success Acuña Jr. is having early in the season, you would expect the Braves to be picking up where they left off last season, winning the NL East with a record of 35-25 eventually losing to the World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS 4-3 in the best of seven series, but it has yet to play out that way. The Braves are sitting in 4th place in the division with a 7-9 record where the offense has yet to come fully alive, with the exception of Acuña Jr.

After starting the season 2-4, the Braves seemed to be turning the corner winning the next two against the Philadelphia Phillies before losing 4 straight; then scrapping out a 9th inning 7-6 comeback in the fourth game of the series against the Miami Marlins. The player scoring the winning run? None other than Ronald Acuña Jr., who was the sparkplug the entire series leading him to earning the National League player of the week.

Then came Sunday night on the big stage of Sunday Night Baseball with the entire baseball world watching after the team took a pounding early from the Cubs on Saturday eventually losing 4-13. The Braves jumped out to an early lead in the first and never looked back. After scoring a run in the 4th inning, Acuña Jr. left the game with an abdominal strain, which many feared for the worse. After the game, his status was uncertain of the extent of the injury, many thinking it would result in a stint on the IL.

As Monday rolled around, fans anxiously awaited any update on the outfielders status. The Braves have been dealing with the injury bug early this season already seeing Opening Day starter, Max Fried, along with Ender Inciarte, Drew Smyly and Sean Newcomb placed on the injured list.

Assuming Acuña Jr was heading to the IL, the Braves still have the 2020 MVP in Freeman along with Marcel Ozuna, Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley who could help carry the load until his return. Of those players, Freeman has been the only one so far who has shown consistency on the season, still a far cry from last season, with Ozuna and Riley showing flashes of what they can do offensively.

Monday afternoon the Braves announced the best possibly outcome as a mild abdominal strain, resulting in a day-to-day listing.

The Braves should be in no rush getting Acuña Jr. back on the field with the 2021 season being back to a complete 162 game schedule, but having him off the field is not what will lead to another NL East title.

With the day off on Monday, the Braves head to New York for a quick two game series versus the Yankees then back home for a 7 game home slate against the Arizona Diamondbacks for 3 and Cubs for a 4 game set. Charlie Morton, 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA, is scheduled to take the mound Tuesday in Yankee Stadium.

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