With Charlie Morton out for the remainder of the World Series, Brian Snitker will have to manage better than he ever has before in these three home games for the Braves. Hopefully, Ian Anderson gives the team some length in Game 3, but regardless, Snitker will have his hands full trying to manage the relief core in Games 4 and 5. I imagine both games will be bullpen games in some form or fashion, but at least in one of them Atlanta will need to get some length out of their other “starters” — Kyle Wright, Drew Smyly, or Tucker Davidson.
When I originally talked about this on Wednesday, I said that Smyly was the obvious choice to pitch several innings out of the three candidates. However, it’s impossible to ignore the performances from Smyly and Wright in Game 2. They may have only pitched an inning a piece, but one looked way more competent than the other, so might that change Snitker’s mindset heading into this weekend?
The case for Kyle Wright
I’ll admit it; I would have been hesitant to throw Kyle Wright on the mound in any situation that wasn’t mop-up duty. Even if he put together his best minor league season to date, he still posted a 9.95 ERA in two starts with the Braves this year, and his last major league appearance came on June 23rd. Now we are thinking about starting him in the most pivotal game of the World Series?
It sounds crazy, and it may have only been one inning, but the reports of Wright making severe adjustments down on the farm looked accurate. He was confident on the biggest stage, mowing the Astros down with three strikeouts in a row. As far as upside goes, there’s no question Wright has the highest ceiling. Of the three candidates I’ll discuss, he’s the guy who could come out and put together a performance like Bryse Wilson did out of nowhere in Game 4 of the 2020 NLCS. For that reason, I think he might be the most likely candidate to start one of these games. He will obviously have a short leash, but if there were ever a time to be bold, it’s now, and Kyle Wright is the bold choice.
The case for Drew Smyly
If you were on Twitter (you should never be on Twitter if you’re looking for sensical opinions… Unless you’re following me, of course), you would have thought Smyly surrendered ten runs in one inning. Really, he gave up a leadoff homer and then loaded the bases, but he got out of it by allowing just one run. It wasn’t pretty, but facing the top of the Astros rarely is. There’s two reasons Brian Snitker might stick with Smyly — the experience and the matchup. Obviously, Smyly is the veteran of the three candidates, but the matchup should also work in his favor as well. The Astros love fastballs, and Smyly is a junkballer that uses his fastball to keep hitters off balance. Still, I don’t think it’s a perfect matchup by any means. The Astros can belt homers with the best of ’em, and Smyly is prone to give up the long ball.
The case for Tucker Davidson
Truthfully, there isn’t much of a case for Tucker Davidson, but I thought I would include him because he is an option. He did dominate in AAA early this season, and his success continued in the majors, posting a 3.60 ERA in his first four starts. If Snitker were to go with him, it would simply be because the Astros wouldn’t have much scouting on him, and he knows Davidson will throw strikes. Still, I can’t imagine Snitker turning to Davidson in anything more than mop-up duty.