Brian Snitker and the Atlanta Braves hope to avoid a second premature exit from the postseason. The six-time reigning NL East champions recently secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Naturally, they are one of four teams awaiting their next opponent in the League Division Series, while the four Wild Card Series are firmly underway. Snitker may have provided a hint about the rotation.
While he may have dropped a few breadcrumbs with his lineups during the Braves' first intra-squad game before the NLDS, Snitker may have potentially set up his starting rotation for the postseason. With Max Fried pitching in Atlanta' first intra-squad scrimmage, that may indicate Spencer Strider will toe the rubber for Atlanta in Game 1 with Fried certainly getting the nod two days later for Game 2.
Atlanta will face the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series between two division rivals in the Philadelphia Phillies and the Miami Marlins. Philadelphia took Game 1 at home, 4-1. Keep in mind the Phillies won the NL pennant a year ago as the No. 6 seed, stunning the Braves in the NLDS when Atlanta was the No. 2 seed. Of course, so much has changed since their last postseason meeting.
With Atlanta getting Games 1 and 2 at home on Saturday and then Monday, it could save the rotation.
At this point in time, anything short of falling to a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers in an NLCS that goes six or seven games would be seen as a massive disappointment for Braves Country. Just win...
Brian Snitker may have let us know who will start for the Atlanta Braves
If Atlanta is going to come up short in the postseason, it will be because of its pitching staff. Its offense has done record-setting things throughout the campaign. While they have drawn favorable comparisons to 1995 Cleveland and 2001 Seattle in that regard, neither American League juggernaut won the World Series that year. Fortunately, Atlanta's bullpen has improved and the rotation can do it.
Having Strider toe the rubber in Game 1 will do wonders for his postseason confidence. Last year's NL Rookie of the Year runner-up to teammate Michael Harris II had the most miserable time on the road vs. Philadelphia last postseason. He may not regularly pitch to contact, but he got lit up like a Christmas tree vs. Rhys Hoskins and company. It was a bad time, but one fresh in everyone's mind.
Ultimately, the Braves just need to win three games before either the Marlins or Phillies beat them three times. Best-of-five series are always a bugaboo, but they certainly beat having to play in the wild card round, where one game dropped could make all the difference. It is great having more teams in the postseason, but we are still very much in a period of adjustment with the four top-two seeds.
If Atlanta is advancing to the NLCS, the Braves are going to have to lean on Strider and Fried big time.