After a stunning ninth inning rally to cap off a stressful Game 3, the Braves now hold a 2-1 series lead in the NLDS. For context - until yesterday, the last time the Braves led a playoff series, Ronald Acuña, Jr. was four years old.
Speaking of Acuña, Jr., it was one year ago today that he electrified the Braves’ home crowd with his notorious, star-making grand slam against the Dodgers in the NLDS. With a win today, he and the rest of the Braves have an opportunity to further etch October 7 into Braves lore, as a win over the Cardinals will send to the Braves to the NLCS for the first time since 2001.
They will throw their support behind Dallas Keuchel, who gets the start on short rest. Keuchel started Game 1 and walked the tightrope for 4 ⅔ innings, only allowing one run on 74 pitches, but worked around traffic on the base paths for the entire outing. If Keuchel is unable to make it deep into this game, the possibility exists that Julio Teheran, who was initially left off the NLDS roster, could log meaningful innings today.
This will be Keuchel’s 12th career postseason appearance, and 11th postseason start. He is 4-2 with a 3.20 in the first 11 appearances.
With their backs against the wall, the Cardinals will turn to Dakota Hudson. Hudson pitched to a 16-7 record this year with a 3.35 ERA. As far as traditional stats go, these are pretty gaudy numbers, but digging into the peripherals (which we should all do, considering it’s no longer 1978) shows that he struggled a bit. His 4.93 FIP (4.55 xFIP) was somewhat mediocre, his 4.43 BB/9 was highest in all of baseball among qualified starters, and his 7.01 K/9 rate was 10th lowest in MLB.
One pervading story of the Braves’ 2019 season was the team’s tenacious, never-say-die attitude in the late innings, and Sunday’s game saw another chapter of this story unfold. Even for as amazing as it was to see Dansby Swanson and Adam Duvall get back-to-back run scoring hits to stake the Braves to a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning, I think I speak for all of us when I say I would much prefer a 13-2 beat down today instead of a nail-biter that requires heroics.
For as nice as it would be to see the Braves lock this series down at SunTrust Park (which would happen on Wednesday), avoiding Game 5 is as important of a task as the Braves have had in front of them all season. Win today, and taste a bit of glory.
Game Date/Time: Monday, October 7, 3:07 PM ET
Location: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
Radio: ESPN Radio, 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network
Hype Level: Completely out of control