The Atlanta Braves held their final workout in preparation for the start of the NLCS which will get underway Saturday at Truist Park. The team announced Friday that Max Fried will be on the mound in Game 1. That isn’t a surprise given that he was lined up to start Game 5 of the NLDS but the way he has pitched down the stretch gave the Braves the luxury of pushing the envelope a bit by bringing Charlie Morton back on short rest to pitch Game 4 against the Brewers.
“Well, it’s really good and I feel really good about all three of the guys that we’re going to be featuring,” Snitker said of Fried and his rotation options. “It’s a significant difference from a year ago when we started this tournament.”
In 2020 the Braves were forced to piece together a rotation around Fried and Ian Anderson. The addition of Morton gave them another solid No. 1 option.
“I feel really good about where Max is in the season, where Charlie is and what he’s done throughout his career,” Snitker said. “I think it’s a really good feeling to know we have two guys like that that we could choose.”
This will be the third meeting for the Braves and the Dodgers in the last four postseasons. A lot of things have changed for both clubs since 2018 but there is a strong sense of familiarity as well.
“I think we’re very familiar with this team and understand how deep they are, how strong they are,” Snitker said. They’re relentless. I know offensively these guys just, the at-bats they put up are something else. They just keep coming after you. Their pitching is so deep and it’s a really good Club, obviously. So are we.”
The Braves have yet to release their roster for the NLCS. With the best-of-seven format, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Atlanta carry an extra pitcher but having multiple bench options could be important as well, particularly if they go with a bullpen game in Game 4.
“I think after experiencing that, I have a different feel now for the roster and that, and if we do have a bullpen game, knowing that you’re going to be hitting guys earlier in that game,” Snitker said. “So I think that’s going to have something to do with how we construct the roster for this series.”
With Jorge Soler out for at least the start of the series, it probably wouldn’t be beneficial to carry both Cristian Pache and Terrance Gore so a different look may be in order.
With Soler unavailable, Dansby Swanson stepped into the leadoff spot in Game 4 of the NLDS. Snitker said that he has been thinking about the leadoff spot but didn’t tip his hand on what direction he might go for Game 1.
“I have been the last couple days. I haven’t arrived at anything yet. I like him up there,” Snitker said of the leadoff spot and Swanson. “We were kind of hit with a situation that we really weren’t prepared for. I’m confident in whoever we put up there. We were dealt a hand we weren’t expecting so we’re going to have to adjust again.”
Joc Pederson has playoff experience in the leadoff spot as well. Wouldn’t be shocking to see him in the top spot against a right-handed starter and Swanson penciled in against lefties.