Hours ahead of Game 1, the Braves have officially announced their NLDS roster.
Most of the surprises were announced yesterday when Brian Snitker said that Julio Teheran would be left off the NLDS roster and that Rafael Ortega would be on it. Snitker also stated that they preferred Ortega over Austin Riley because they want another left-handed hitter off the bench against the Cardinals’ righty-heavy pitching staff. It should be noted that Riley has actually hit slightly better against right-handed pitchers than Ortega (70 wRC+ vs. 68 wRC+, respectively), but ultimately, the team decided that Ortega would get the last bench spot. In the end, the Braves will carry 14 hitters and 11 pitchers.
The only lingering question was who would be in the bullpen. Anthony Swarzak was brilliant for the Braves in June but struggled mightily ever since, posting a 7.25 ERA and allowing a wOBA of .391 against him since the All-Star Break. Jerry Blevins has done well as a lefty specialist, but the Cardinals’ lineup is righty-heavy just like its pitching staff. Ultimately, Darren O’Day made the roster after pitching well, even if only pitching for 5.1 innings.
The Braves are only carrying one left-handed reliever in Sean Newcomb. However, the Braves could use Max Fried in relief if needed, and Luke Jackson has significantly better splits against left-handed hitters (allowing a .362 wOBA against righties versus .226 against lefties). While the Cardinals do have predominantly right-handed hitters, Kolten Wong and Dexter Fowler are both left-handed and expect to see significant playing time. Additionally, Marcell Ozuna has better splits against right-handed pitchers.
Dallas Keuchel will toe the rubber today in Game 1 starting at 5:02 PM ET.