ESPN names the thing that will decide the Braves playoff hopes

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It’s the best time of the year for baseball fans… well, for fans of teams that made the postseason, at least. Yesterday, the Wild Card Series began, and on Saturday, the Braves will take the field for Game 1 of the NLDS at Truist Park. It is going to be electric in Atlanta this weekend, and hopefully, it stays that way through the entire month of October.

A group of writers over at ESPN recently did an article highlighting all 12 playoff teams from a number of angles. One of their primary points of focus was on the one thing that will determine each team’s playoff success. For the Braves, it was their rotation.

The one thing that will decide their October fate: Suddenly there are big concerns about Atlanta’s starting rotation. Max Fried missed his last couple of starts of the regular season with a blister problem. Charlie Morton has already been ruled out of the division series with a finger issue. Bryce Elder was an All-Star in the first half but saw his ERA balloon to over 5.00 in the second half. Even Spencer Strider has had some mediocre outings down the stretch and seen his MLB-leading strikeout rate drop in the final two months. On top of that, the bullpen has some injury issues and had its worst month in September, which puts even more pressure on the rotation. — Schoenfield

This going to be the hot topic for the Braves for as long as they remain in the postseason. In the NLDS, they should able to get by with Max Fried and Spencer Strider, who can each make two starts. However, they still need to figure out the plan for Game 3, which will be the first time the Braves hit the road in the postseason.

However, the questions will only grow if the Braves advance to the NLCS, where they will need four different starting pitchers. If Charlie Morton can return, some of those concerns will be eased, but if he can’t, Brian Snitker and Alex Anthopoulos will have to get creative. The good news is the Braves have the offensive firepower to win a shootout on any given night, but runs are much more difficult to come by in the postseason.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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