To quote Brian Snitker, “It’s never over til it’s over.” And now, it’s over.
Honestly, it heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the feelings that the Atlanta Braves players and coaching staff are going through. They gave this 162-game season their all, and you could see that in every game. But, when Postseason baseball comes around, things change. It doesn’t matter how many wins you have, or how good you’ve been all year…what matters is how well you can play in a best-of-five series against a red-hot team. This year, the Braves had to face the Philadelphia Phillies, and quite frankly, they outplayed Atlanta.
The Atlanta Braves are a really good team, there is no doubt about that, and they were very capable of winning. However, the Phillies came into this series against the Braves with a major spark and it carried them through. They were able to get hits when they needed to and had good strong pitching throughout the entire series.
The Braves never really had that spark. You could easily see that they wanted to win, and they had multiple chances to score and make that happen, they just couldn’t get the big hit. One of the moments that I think had a big impact on this series was in Game One when they left the bases loaded three times without scoring. You just cant let that happen – especially in a Postseason game.
Another issue was starting pitching. The starting rotation was never really 100% for the Braves in the NLDS. From Max Fried giving up 8 hits and 6 runs (only 4 of them were earned) in 3.1 innings, things didn’t look good. Add on Spencer Strider not being completely healthy and yet he pitched anyway and got into trouble, and then finally for poor Charlie Morton. Morton was pitching very well for the Braves in game four, but then he got a comebacker back to the mound that drilled him on his pitching elbow. He finished the inning and came back out for the inning after, but they had to pull him because things just weren’t looking right. This was hard to watch, not only because he was doing so well and has come up clutch in the Postseason, but because it brought back flashbacks from what happened down in Houston in game one of the World Series when a comebacker hit his lower leg and broke his fibula.
All in all, this Atlanta Braves team never truly seemed 100% healthy coming into the Postseason. With Ozzie Albies not being able to play, Ronald Acuña Jr. having some remaining knee problems, to Tyler Matzek having Tommy John Surgery the day of the NLDS, and other key components — it just wasn’t there for Atlanta.
Even though the Braves got eliminated much too soon, I have full confidence in this Atlanta’s Braves team. Next year they will come back and fight just like they did this year and years past. However, there are two looming questions facing the Braves… Will Dansby Swanson and Max Fried return? Obviously no one wants to see these two go. Fried has proven to be a stud in the starting rotation, and Swanson is a native Georgia-boy who has captivated the hearts of Braves country. No one wants to see either of these two go. Regarding Dansby, however, fans are a little more worried.
After Freddie Freeman signed with the Dodgers, it was made known that Freeman and Swanson had the same agent. Freeman fired his agent earlier this year but Swanson still has him. This automatically brings more concern regarding Dansby remaining a Brave, but I believe if he really truly wants to stay a Brave like he says, then he will accept the offer that the Atlanta Braves office gives him.
Only time will tell what’s going to happen, but right now the Braves are taking this one day at a time. Coming into the offseason they are going to rest, spend time with families, and then start preparing for the 2023 season to come. Only 4 months until Spring Training!