The Braves were slaughtered by the Phillies in Game 3, very similar to the way they were a year ago. Their historic offense continued to look pedestrian, and their pitching failed to step up, but nobody deserves to shoulder the bulk of the blame more than Brian Snitker.
What everyone assumed was that whoever started would have a very short leash. This is October, not the middle of June, and neither Elder nor Smith-Shawver have any postseason experience. Considering the situation — series tied in a hostile environment — relievers should have been up in the bullpen at the first sign of trouble, especially considering everyone was fresh coming off two off days in three days.
Not pulling Elder before he pitched to Harper would be a fireable offense in most cases. Keeping Elder in two batters after he surrendered four runs, including two homers, is a Mario Cristobal level of ignorance.
But perhaps even worse than Snitker’s decision to keep Bryce Elder in the game for as long as he did was his explanation after the game.
Later in the presser, Snitker said…
"The way Bryce was throwing, I was thinking, man, he was really good. And the slider was good. His change up was good. And it just kind of, I don't know. I mean, it was the third inning of the game with a lot to cover on the back end of it."
— Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) October 12, 2023
The last part of Snitker’s quote is what really gets me, acting as if there weren’t enough fresh guys in the bullpen to cover the entire game. This is October! This isn’t May! the Braves have had two off-days in the last three days. Everyone was fresh, and they could have pitched tomorrow without any issues. Suggesting anything otherwise is simply false.
Elder was fantastic through two innings, setting the Phillies down in order, but this is the postseason. Leaving a young pitcher with no experience out to dry like that is a disgusting display of managing, taking the Braves out of the game before the fourth inning.
In no world should Brian Snitker should have been thinking that Elder was going to go 5-6 innings, especially once the Phillies started hitting him hard in the third inning. Elder should have never pitched to Harper, and he damn sure never should have pitched to another batter after giving up a three-run shot.
Rob Thomson watched Ranger Suarez pitch 3.2 scoreless and still pulled the plug before the Braves bats could start a rally. That is how you manage in October when you don’t have an ace on the mound with a fresh bullpen, and so far, it’s the difference in the series.
Brian Snitker’s lucky he won a World Series in 2021, or we would be having some serious discussions about whether he would be returning as manager in 2024.
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire