It is that time of the year again. Postseason baseball is here and the Atlanta Braves will officially begin play in the NLDS later today in Game 1 against the Milwaukee Brewers. As is tradition, here are our picks for the series outcome. We will be back later with our picks for the series MVP so be sure to check back for that.
Who will win the NLDS matchup between the Braves and Brewers?
Ivan: Predicting any short series is way too difficult. I ran a bunch of simulations and unsurprisingly, five-games was a really common outcome, and on balance, the series was pretty much a toss-up. I guess the Brewers won a tiny bit more frequently, but reality doesn’t really care about my model with a bunch of inputs that are almost certainly wrong, anyway (since I have no idea what the Brewers are going to do for their roster or even their rotation plans beyond the top three). Firearm to my noggin, the Brewers have a better roster, but it’s not better enough to make this really tilt one way or the other with a max of five games to play. I think I’d bet on the series going five games before I bet on either team winning (but I wouldn’t bet on either, because betting on short series is crazy).
Kris: I am expecting this to be a fun and competitive series that will fly completely under the radar due to the other NLDS matchup featuring the Giants and the Dodgers. This Braves team overcame a lot to get to the postseason and I think they are playing their best baseball now. The Brewers are a great team as well and their rotation could very well dominate the series. I am expecting a lot of low scoring games, but ultimately I think Atlanta will find a way and win the series in four games.
Stephen: Baseball in tiny samples is one of the more random things in all of sports and obviously, the playoffs are nothing but tiny samples. Add in two teams who, on paper, are similar in talent level and it makes it almost impossible to predict an outcome with any accuracy. I agree with Ivan, I’d pick this series to go 5 games before I picked either team to win but for the sake of fun, I’ll go with the Braves. Atlanta has 8-10 guys who can hit a HR at any point in any game, and given how unlikely it is you’re going to string together four or five straight hits against Milwaukee’s pitching, walks and HRs could be the difference. If Charlie and Max show up, Braves could be a problem for the Brewers. Just hold onto your butts in the 9th.
Eric: I’m already on record from the TC podcast (make sure to subscribe) in picking the Braves in 5 and I am sticking with that. I think this matchup is incredibly close, but the Braves have largely done well this season to put up some offense against the Brewers’ starters. Combine that with the fact that I don’t see a huge gap between Burnes/Woodruff and Morton/Fried in a one series sample especially when you look at the offenses they are going to be facing and I think the biggest edge on paper the Brewers should have is largely nullified. I think the Braves’ offense is better, the Brewers are much better defensively but I think with the Braves ability to hit for power that that won’t be as much of a problem. I do think that the Braves have to win one of the games started by Burnes or Woodruff early, so if they don’t do that...it could be a short trip to the postseason for the Bravos.
Brad: I think the two most likely outcomes, at least from a projection standpoint, are Braves in 4 or Brewers in 5. That is the nature of two teams that are fairly comparable in overall effectiveness, with Milwaukee holding the carrot of a Game 5 at home. I’m betting Atlanta is at least a little bit better than their overall numbers given the midseason roster overhaul, and I think the Braves’ offense is substantially better than what Milwaukee deploys. Braves in 4.
Daniel: With all of the caveats applied about baseball in small samples, I think the singular most likely outcome for the series is Brewers in 5. With that being said, I am also inclined to believe that the second and third most likely outcomes are Braves in 5 and Braves in 4. If we are projecting the team that wins the series, I will give the Braves the edge, but in an attempt to pick a specific outcome, I will take the Brewers in 5.
Demetrius: Phew, this is a tough one! The Braves have a pretty good rotation going into this series but the Brewers rotation has been nails all season. The relief corps for both teams may be somewhat evenly matched as well, especially with the Brewers missing Devin Williams after he pulled an Ynoa. Meanwhile, this version of Atlanta’s lineup is quite clearly better than what Milwaukee’s lineup has to offer. I think it’s gonna come down to who can get the big hits when they need them the most and I’d say that the Braves have more potential to break out for those big innings that are huge in the Postseason than this Brewers lineup does and that’ll be the difference. I honestly think that the Braves can do this in five games, but get ready for a nervy series.
DJourn: If we all have the same idea as to how this series will play out, does that mean we are guilty of group-think? If the Brewers rotation pitches to its regular season norm and the Braves hitters miss a few mistake pitches, this could be lights for the Braves after one game in Truist Park. With that being said, I see this series going four games with the Braves rotation holding the Brewers line-up in check and the Braves hitting just enough home runs to advance to the NLCS.
Gaurav: Vegas says the Brewers, my heart says the Braves. In a shortened series the Braves do have the premium of being able to throw out Morton/Fried/Anderson with a bullpen that features the big arms + Ynoa, and Strider. The lineup seems to have found its stride as well with Soler setting the tone early and having a lot of depth throughout the entire thing. I can’t remove bias from my brain so I will say Braves in four.
Matt: I’m going to say the Braves. Had Milwaukee had Devin Williams, I likely would have picked them instead because him and Josh Hader plus their rotation would be tough. However down one of their two key relievers and with the worst lineup in the playoffs, I think the Braves have the edge since a Morton/Fried/Anderson rotation stacks up fairly well against a Burnes/Peralta/Woodruff rotation that doesn’t have as much playoff experience as the Braves group.
Cassidy: I have the Braves in 4. I think the depth of the lineup and the power and patience combo has been incredible against teams best. The Brewers aren’t going to let Freeman beat them so Riley is going to continue his incredible season and win the series MVP. His approach and mindset with two strikes and two outs is the biggest difference maker. Dark horse candidate Dansby has seen the Brewers well with 2 homers and 11 RBIs.
If the Brewers win it will be because they are able to get to Braves pen early in the first 3 games with the likelihood of Braves bullpen game 4 fresh arms could be an issue if Brewers start fast against Braves pitching studs.
Aly: I think it could be close. But, if the Braves want it bad enough they will pull through. The biggest thing that could cause some problems is the Brewers’ bullpen. With them having Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff for starters, and Josh Hader as a closer, it might give them a slight advantage. However, our lineup could easily take theirs. The Braves’ batters really seem to have found their rhythm, and the trade acquisitions haven’t slowed down. If it turns out to be an offensive series, then it’s the Braves for sure.
Shawn: I feel confident in saying the Braves. The Brewers starting staff is amazing, but Charlie Morton and Max Fried can hold their own in Games 1 and 2. Plus, I feel it is fair to say the Braves may have more of an advantage with their lineup than the Brewers do with their starting staff. The key is creating and converting scoring chances. Atlanta got better at that as the season went along with their new lineup. If the Braves can do that early in games, it hopefully should provide the bullpen with enough wiggle room to get the job done.
Kaitlyn: Braves in 5. Both of these teams are so similar on the stat sheet, but I think what gives the Braves an edge over the Brewers is their power. This Atlanta lineup has hit 45 more homers than the Brewers this season, and that is something that will have to continue in order to advance to the NLCS. We’ve got some good pitching duels coming up in this series, with Charlie Morton/Corbin Burnes and Max Fried/Brandon Woodruff matchups. Milwaukee’s starting rotation has been lights out all season, but I think guys like Morton, Fried, and Anderson have settled in as of late to keep Atlanta in it and let the offense get to work.