On a day that had the chance to be the most memorable in franchise history over the past two decades, the Braves laid an egg. Their ace, Max Fried, toed the rubber with an opportunity to put the Dodgers away on the road in just five games, but for the first time in nearly three months — he didn’t have his best stuff. Los Angeles took full advantage. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to shut the door with the Dodgers settling for a bullpen game; however, the Braves still did what they needed to do on the road, stealing one game and setting themselves up to win in front of their home crowd in Game 6 or 7.
While Fried might not be available for the rest of the series, in a way, the Braves did benefit from getting absolutely walloped in Game 5. The key pieces to their bullpen, which were stretched thin entering last night, received a much needed day off before a travel day. As far as relievers go, all hands will be on deck in the final two games of the series, and the Braves still have two of their best three starters scheduled for the weekend.
In Game 6, Ian Anderson will get the ball to begin the game. He started Game 2, which the Braves won, but it wasn’t because of anything Anderson did. He made it through only three innings, tossing just 55 pitches and allowing two runs. However, that was the first time we’ve ever seen Anderson blink in the playoffs. Prior to that outing, the 23-year-old rookie had only allowed two earned runs over five postseason starts (23.2 innings). The Braves should feel very comfortable with him on the mound in a series-clinching opportunity, especially knowing they have another weapon ready to go on full rest in Game 7 if necessary.
Charlie Morton has been one of the best postseason pitchers over the last five years, and he showed exactly why in Game 3. The 37-year-old veteran started off about as poorly as one possibly could, walking four batters and giving up a home run in the first inning alone. However, the Dodgers somehow only scored two runs in that first frame, and after that, Morton proceeded to put together one of the gutsiest performances I have ever seen, making it through five innings and holding the Dodgers scoreless the rest of the way.
When Morton exited the game, the Braves led by two runs — a lead they were unable to hold onto, or this series would be over already. Still, Brian Snitker has to be more than confident in his starting pitcher if this series does indeed make it to seven games.
Clinching in five games with Max Fried on the mound against the Dodgers bullpen seemed like a golden opportunity. However, the Braves are still in a fantastic position to close this series out. They return home rested with two opportunities to punch their ticket to the World Series. All of their pitchers should be available, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if we saw another appearance from Max Fried if things get tight in a winner-take-all Game 7.
Thanks for reading about the Braves situation heading into Game 6. If you liked this article, make sure to check out Ryan Cothran’s recent piece on the magic of Alex Anthopoulos.