Postseason baseball has officially begun! The Wild Card series’ were full of much excitement and a lot of surprises. The Philadelphia Phillies swept the Saint Louis Cardinals and are now about to face off against the reigning World Series Champions: the Atlanta Braves.
This isn’t going to be an easy series for the Braves. The Phillies have shown to be a better team than most thought they were this year, and they have good hitters and some good starting pitchers. With all this to be said, I still believe the Braves are the better team. Atlanta has had almost a week of rest, and while some people think too much rest is a bad thing and can put them off their game, I think rest was just what the Braves have needed. The series that Atlanta played with the Mets was crucial, and I am sure it was both physically and mentally exhausting for the Braves players…they gave that series their all. And giving it their all is what they’re going to have to do throughout the Postseason.
Starting pitching wise, the Braves have a solid rotation. Max Fried has been announced to start game one, and I think they’ll start Kyle Wright in game two and most likely Charlie Morton for game three. Spencer Strider could have the possibility of starting in the NLDS, but I don’t think the Braves will rush him into pitching. They will want him completely healed and without risk of injuring himself worse.
The Braves have a good bullpen. We have seen them be lights-out countless times this season. Those pitchers have A+ stuff. We have seen them pitch in high leverage situations and come out on the winning side…we especially saw this in the decisive Braves vs. Mets series. The one thing that is going to bring some concern is the closing role in the bullpen. That role belongs to Kenley Jansen. Kenley has had his ups and downs this season, but he has come through when the games have mattered the most. We can only hope to see him bring those same results as we enter the Postseason.
Offensively, we known the Braves have a LOT of power. They can hit the home run ball left and right. However, they are going to need more than home runs to carry them through the Postseason. Small ball is important in any baseball game, but it is even bigger in Postseason games. Getting on base, moving runners over, and scoring is what matters most. Yes, you can score with a home run, and they are loud and exciting, but you have to be able to score runs without a home run. You have to be able to take advantage of pitchers “slip-ups” such as walks. There are only so many runners you can leave on base without it coming back to bite you in a huge way. This will be something for the Braves to start to do more of as we begin Postseason baseball.
The Atlanta Braves have superb defense. The infield especially is quite impressive. This is something that has helped Atlanta throughout the entire season. Having a good defense behind your pitchers is something you can’t take for granted. The Braves defense always seems to come through in huge situations. We saw this in last year’s Postseason and time and time again this season.
Everything is set at a higher standard in the Postseason. It’s the best of the best battling against one another to avoid elimination and come out on top as Champions. We saw the Atlanta Braves do this last year, and they are just as capable to do it again this year. It will be an exciting Postseason run this year and the Braves won’t go down without a fight!
One more thing to add. Ozzie Albies, who fractured his right pinky ringer in mid-September against the Phillies, just two days after returning from a foot injury, is now out of his cast. This is a huge step for Albies who has the potential of making a Postseason return. This is another aspect of that extra week of rest from clinching the Division that has played so well in the Braves favor. Ozzie Albies will have to regain some strength in his hand after being in a cast, and the Braves coaching staff will be cautious with him, not wanting to risk another injury to their young superstar. On another note regarding Albies, it was announced today that he will be traveling with the Braves for the NLDS and will participate in on-the-field activities and workouts with the team. All of these are huge steps in the right direction, and I know that the team and all of Braves country would be over the moon to see Albies come back in the Postseason!