Throughout the entire week, we’ve broken down the NLDS from all angles. Now, it’s time for my favorite part — predictions. The Brewers present a formidable matchup for the Braves, featuring arguably the best starting rotation in baseball. But Atlanta enters this series re-energized and red-hot following a trade deadline that resulted in a plethora of critical acquisitions. It’s about as even as a matchup as one can find on paper, but let’s see who our Braves writers believe has the edge.
Chase Irle’s Prediction (@IrleChase)
It’s difficult not to be biased, but I love the Braves’ chances in this one. The Brewers starting pitching has been phenomenal all season, led by Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. However, if you look at the last two months, the Braves Big 3 has actually been significantly better.
Both trios threw exactly 2,641 pitches 8/1 to 10/3.#Braves Morton/Fried/Anderson
29 starts, 176 IP, 2.35 ERA, .188/.240/.309
(6.0+ IP/G)#Brewers Burnes/Woodruff/Peralta
27 starts, 145.1 IP, 3.28 ERA, .227/.281/.355
(5.1+ IP/G) https://t.co/QRD6qHu1H9
— Paul (@BravesStats) October 6, 2021
I’m not going to give the Braves the edge in the starting pitching department in this series; however, it is definitely fair to say it is a wash. Offensively, I don’t think this one is particularly close. Even without Ronald Acuña, the Braves lineup is loaded with game-changing bats from top to bottom. With that being said, the Brewers are a scrappy bunch, so Atlanta must make the most of their opportunities, especially against such a talented pitching staff.
The edge undoubtedly goes to the Brewers when it comes to the bullpens, but I believe that the loss of Devin Williams will prove to be costly. Experience is also on the Braves side, and they’ve played much better baseball coming down the stretch. I’ll give the Brewers one game because I believe one of their elite starters will shove, but I like the Braves to win this series in four games.
Braves in 4
Jake Gordon’s Prediction (@cantguardjake)
I’m not big on predicting for my team because it’s kind of a lose-lose. I think the Braves are a deeper team than they were in 2020, even though they are missing Ronald Acuña Jr, Marcell Ozuna, and Mike Soroka (again). Charlie Morton will have to be the difference in this series. We have seen what Ian Anderson and Max Fried can do in the playoffs, and they will need to replicate their 2020 efforts.
The bullpens may end up being the difference. Even though Devin Williams is out, the Brewers still have a stable of weapons, led by lockdown reliever Josh Hader. Brian Snitker‘s decisions will have to be near perfect, and guys like Luke Jackson and Tyler Matzek must keep up their strong regular season play. AJ Minter was good in the 2020 playoffs, and the Braves need that again. Chris Martin and Will Smith have to be better, plain and simple. Christian Yelich has gotten hot to end the year, so the Braves will have another headache to deal with in a balanced Brewers lineup.
I think the Braves will get some more heroics from 2020 playoff X-Factors in Travis d’Arnaud, Dansby Swanson, and Adam Duvall. If the rest of the offense can keep up and come up with some timely hits, I think the Braves have a really good chance. If this goes five games, I think the Brewers will win. I don’t think it gets that far.
Braves in 4
Clint Manry’s prediction
On paper, the only edge the Brewers seem to have is its three-headed monster of a playoff starting rotation, but as Chase mentioned above, the Braves trio of Morton, Fried, and Anderson has actually been more stingy since the beginning of August. Sure, the Atlanta starting staff might not rack up strikeouts as Milwaukee’s does, but in a short series, it’s simply all about getting outs.
So with that being said, I’m feeling extremely confident about the Braves’ chances in this matchup, starting with Morton for Game 1 on Friday. Last year, Atlanta had to lean on Fried for its NLDS opener against the Marlins, who, up to that point, had never started a Division Series (though he was coming off an impressive Wild Card outing versus the Reds). The young lefty was hit around by Miami, and even though the Braves ended up winning that game, he struggled a bit and allowed four runs in four innings. The 37-year-old Morton has been here plenty of times, sporting an impressive 2.84 ERA in four different Division Series starts over his career.
Morton kicks off this five-game series with a gem on Friday, giving the Braves starting staff some much-needed momentum, and the Atlanta lineup continues its recent power surge that has allowed it to finish September/October with the fifth-most homers in baseball. As one of the hottest teams in the sport of late (having won eight of its last ten), the Braves tack on three more to give them a five-game winning streak heading into the NLCS. I think Atlanta rolls in this one.
Braves in 3