Less than an hour ago, the Braves released their Wild Card Series roster for their matchup with the Reds, and it looked a lot different than people might have expected. If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out. Here are my primary takeaways from the Braves’ initial playoff roster.
The Braves favored their young talent
All season long, I — along with most other Braves’ fans — have been begging the team to turn to their youth in favor stale veterans who just weren’t performing. They opted not to do it during the regular season. However, they are rolling with them against the Reds in the Wild Card Series.
Ender Inciarte was left off in favor of Cristian Pache, something I’ve been crying for all season. Pache will likely serve strictly as a defensive replacement. However, if need be, he has much more potential in his bat than Inciarte. Perhaps he can provide an Andruw Jones-like spark with the stick when the Braves need it most.
William Contreras will also be the Braves’ third catcher instead of Alex Jackson. Jackson has more experience in the majors and at the AAA level, but Contreras was a superstar in those first two series of the season despite never playing a game past the AA-level until this year. In the past, the Braves tend to have played it safe. Not this time, though, and Contreras is the right choice since they did decide to carry three catchers instead of two.
The Braves only carried three starters
This isn’t much of a surprise since it is only a three-game series, but the Braves only carried three starting pitchers — Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Kyle Wright. Hopefully, they only have to use two of them, but if this series does come down to a winner-take-all Game 3, it looks like they will roll out Kyle Wright, who has looked fantastic in his last three outings. Although I expect Snitker to have a short leash with both Anderson and Wright in their first taste of postseason baseball.
No Luke Jackson
All ten relievers I expected to make the playoff roster did. These ten guys have been the heart and soul of the Braves’ pitching staff all season. However, there was one noticeable player left off — Luke Jackson. Say what you want about Jackson, but he was one of the Braves’ most productive relievers last season. Unfortunately, that just hasn’t been the case this year, as he has recorded an unsightly 6.84 ERA over 26.1 innings. It was the right decision to leave him off the roster.
The Braves valued clutch bench bats
Given how poor the Braves’ starting rotation has been, I thought they might go with as many as 15 pitchers. Instead, they stuck with just 13 and added a couple of position players that have barely made an impact this season — Charlie Culberson and Pablo Sandoval. However, these guys made the roster for one reason — clutch factor. Braves Country is well aware of Culberson’s ability as a pinch-hitter, but they might not be as familiar with Sandoval. The former San Francisco Giant has won three World Series rings and boasts a career postseason slash line of .344/.389/.935 in 39 games. He relishes the moment and could become a critical piece to Atlanta’s playoff run.
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