Braves fans were always going to be a bit disappointed taking a look at the playoff roster now that they have lost their tremendous depth due to the injuries of Charlie Culberson, Johan Camargo, and Ender Inciarte. For the most part, it is fine, and they hit the nail on the head by going Keuchel-Folty-Soroka to start things out. But they did make one grave mistake, and that was leaving Julio Teheran and Austin Riley off the roster.
Laugh all you want, but you put your most talented players on the playoff roster. Why do you think Darren O’ Day got the nod? We all know Riley and Teheran had their struggles to end the year, but this looks like bad news.
Let’s start with Julio. I guarantee you the Braves have to use Max Fried at least once in the first three games of this series? So what happens if there is a Game 4, and Fried has been used, or Mike Foltynewicz allows eight runs? Without Julio Teheran on the roster, whom I would prefer in relief over Josh Tomlin, your options are Freid, Keuchel on short rest, or using Tomlin as an opener. Yikes. Say whatever you want about Teheran, but you are going to have a hard time convincing me he is not one of the 11 most talented arms on the team. Don’t forget how the Braves got here when Folty and Fried were struggling, and Dallas Keuchel had not even been signed yet. He could have been used out of the bullpen or kept on standby for Game 4, which the Braves might need him for.
As far as Riley goes, he hasn’t hit a ball since ‘Nam. But if you need a big hit in a pinch as a last resort, who do you want out there, Rafael Ortega or Austin Riley? Snitker chooses the AAAA player who is a big-time downgrade talent-wise, and it is not like he has the numbers to back it up. Huge mistake. And all so they could have a left-handed bench bat? Give me a break!!! I think Riley will be a stud in the long-run, but leaving him off the roster is not going to do much for his confidence as a ballplayer going forward, either.
I believe that in playoff baseball, there is a reset button, and talent prevails above all. The Braves roster is not congruent with this theory. Am I nitpicking? Probably, but I think there is a strong chance looking back a year from now, people will ask, “What the hell were they thinking?”
The good news is that these guys will be on standby down in Florida in case they are needed. IF the Braves advance, they can adjust their roster. Hopefully, they do.