Braves

Thoughts on the Braves playoff roster for the NLDS

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The long-awaited playoff roster is here for the Braves, and it did not come without a few twists.

Starting Pitchers

  1. Dallas Keuchel
  2. Mike Foltynewicz
  3. Mike Soroka
  4. Max Fried

Brian Snitker called leaving Julio Teheran off the playoff roster one of the toughest decisions of his career, and I’m not so sure it was the correct one. Teheran, while a phenomenal piece to this team all season long, fell off a cliff in his final few outings and did not look like the same guy. However, it is not always the hot-hand at the end of the season that cruises through the playoffs, and Teheran’s body of work for the entire year speaks for itself.

Beyond that, it’s weird the Braves play things super cautiously with the rest of their roster by doing things like keeping three catchers and hanging on to Rafael Ortega because he’s a left-handed bat, but yet they want to take a risk with their starting pitching. What if Keuchel and Folty both throw six innings, and Fried is used twice out of the pen? Or even worse, Mike Foltyenwicz allows eight earned in two innings and can no longer be trusted. Who is supposed to start Game 4? Josh Tomlin? I love what Josh Tomlin has brought to this team, and he might be better suited than Teheran coming out of the pen, but with this roster, the Braves are banking on several things going their way in regards to their starting pitching. Snitker did not wholly rule out Teheran pitching the rest of the year, saying he would receive consideration if the Braves made it to the NLCS. Although, It doesn’t seem likely.

As expected, Atlanta will go with Dallas Keuchel, Mike Foltynewicz, and Mike Soroka in Games 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Keuchel is littered with postseason experience, Mike Foltynewicz is the hot-hand, and Mike Soroka is the best road pitcher in baseball, recording a 1.55 ERA in 16 starts away from home this season. Max Fried will be available out of the bullpen too, but if he isn’t used, he will also be an option in a potential Game 4. That will likely be determined by how deep Dallas Keuchel and Mike Foltynewicz go into their games.

Bullpen

  1. Mark Melancon
  2. Shane Greene
  3. Chris Martin
  4. Sean Newcomb
  5. Luke Jackson
  6. Darren O’Day
  7. Josh Tomlin

The Braves also threw a couple of curveballs at us in their bullpen. Jerry Blevins, who has been a nightmare for left-handed batters, was left off the roster. That decision was likely made much easier when Atlanta decided they could also use Max Fried out of the bullpen. The Braves also opted to roll with Josh Tomlin as their long relief man. I don’t know if Tomlin was a necessary addition, but he’s been reliable all year, and I trust him as much as Julio Teheran out of the bullpen.

Catchers

  1. Brian McCann
  2. Tyler Flowers
  3. Francisco Cervelli

No surprises here. The Braves were always likely to roll with three catchers, and that became a certainty once several of their depth pieces were injured and lost for the season.

Infielders

  1. Freddie Freeman
  2. Ozzie Albies
  3. Dansby Swanson
  4. Josh Donaldson
  5. Adeiny Hechavarria

Again, nothing shocking with this group. We know the starters, and Hechavarria will be the lone backup infielder with Johan Camargo and Charlie Culberson both out for the NLDS.

Outfielders

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
  2. Nick Markakis
  3. Matt Joyce
  4. Rafael Ortega
  5. Adam Duvall
  6. Billy Hamilton

This is the area where you can see the injuries have taken their toll. It was almost unfathomable that Rafael Ortega would make the postseason roster a few months ago, but here we are, and he didn’t earn it on the back of stellar play either. Ortega had a .143 batting average in September with only two extra-base hits. Brian Snitker felt like the Braves needed another lefty bat, but I would have gone with Austin Riley in a heartbeat.

Not only is Ortega not a piece of this team’s future, but he also hasn’t been good this year either. Besides his memorable grand slam against the Dodgers, he’s barely hit over the Mendoza line and doesn’t provide much pop. There’s no way he’s as talented as Austin Riley, and imagine what that might do to the kid’s confidence heading into his second year. It’s challenging enough to bounce back from the type of second-half he experienced. Now, Riley has to think all summer about how the club chose a 28-year-old journeyman who can barely hit .200 and has a career OPS of .577 over him. That could be something the organization regrets mightily a year from now.

Atlanta also chose to hang on to Billy Hamilton for the NLDS. He doesn’t bring anything with the bat, but his speed and defense do add an advantageous element, and the Braves don’t have many other options with Inciarte, Culberson, and Camargo all sidelined.

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