As the Atlanta Braves prepare to embark on what they hope will be a lengthy postseason run, they were thankful to secure a couple of days off before ramping back up before Tuesday’s NLDS matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Brian Snitker spoke to the media before Monday’s scheduled workout at Truist Park and was asked if he had a preferred opponent for this week’s matchup.
“No, I think when you get to the postseason, you’ve got to go through everybody,” Snitker said. We didn’t care who we played. We have to play.”
“These guys will be ready to go,” Snitker added. “I haven’t heard one guy mention about who we’re going to play. It’s just about playing and being here now and being in the division series because you know what, you’re going to have to go through everybody if you want to get to where you want to go.”
The Phillies finished a distant third in the NL East behind the Braves and the Mets while securing the final wild card spot during the last week of the regular season. However, they pulled off a two-game sweep in the Wild Card Series against the Cardinals in St. Louis to advance.
“I think the Phillies are hitting on all cylinders. They’ve got everybody back,” Snitker said of Philadelphia. “Their starting pitching is really good. Their circle of trust in that bullpen, they worked through some issues there. I think that’s a really good bullpen and they’re playing really, really well now.”
Winning a fifth-straight division title allowed the Braves a bye in the first round and five days off. Snitker said that while they needed the rest, they wanted to make sure that they didn’t spend too much time off their feet.
“For how we got there, we needed a couple of days off. We rode the bullpen guys extremely hard last week,” Snitker said. “I mean it’s a curse in some ways, too. I don’t think we needed five days off. But it is what it is. I think we’ve done a good job of staying as ready as we possibly could, but the position players and especially the bullpen needed some time.”
Snitker said that they gave the team a couple of days off before starting workouts back up. They have also utilized the players who are currently working out at Gwinnett in case they may be needed during the postseason run.
“We just kind of gave them a couple of days off. It’s kind of like spring training a little bit, the last couple of days,” Snitker said. “We’re going to do it again today with the group we had in Gwinnett. We brought, like, six innings of pitching over every day and catchers. These guys have gotten a lot of live BPs and along with all their other defensive work and all that also. They ran the bases yesterday and the whole thing. So it’s been like a spring training atmosphere here, and it’s been good.”
Snitker confirmed as expected that Max Fried will start Game 1 Tuesday. He added that they are leaning towards going with Kyle Wright in Game 2, but that Charlie Morton is also a possibility. Fried was limited to just five innings and 71 pitches in his last outing due to a stomach bug, but Snitker said that he is recovered and ready for Tuesday.
“He’s doing all the baseball activities that he needed to do, and just the rest,” Snitker said of Fried. “He’s starting to look good again. He didn’t look great for a while there. I mean, he got a bug. But he’s feeling good and ready to go.”
Spencer Strider’s status and potential role for the NLDS
The Braves announced Monday that they had agreed to a six-year extension with Spencer Strider. Strider threw off a mound Sunday and said that he was feeling good, but it remains unclear whether he will be part of the NLDS roster and what his role might be. Snitker said that they are keeping all of their options open.
“Everything is an option, quite honestly. We really don’t know,” Snitker said of Strider. “He’s going to have to pass the test today. I know he feels good when you saw him here coming in. I saw him before he came in. He hadn’t been outside and throwing the ball around and running around. We anticipate him being really good because he was yesterday in the pen. And we’re still kind of mulling over what’s the right thing for us and him and how to use him.”
If the Braves use Fried in Game 1 and then some combination of Kyle Wright and Charlie Morton in Games 2 and 3, then Strider would be an option for Game 4 or could pitch out of the bullpen if needed.
Ozzie Albies update
Snitker also provided an update on injured second baseman Ozzie Albies who is currently out with a broken finger. Albies got his cast off and will travel with the team to Philadelphia later this week.
“He got his cast off and it’s just now getting strength and flexibility, the whole thing,” Snitker said of Albies. “We’ll take him with us this week as he continues to progress, but as I say, he’s been in a cast for however many weeks. Just kind of loosening things up and getting his strength back.”
Sounds like Albies won’t be a factor in the NLDS, but could be in play for the NLCS should the Braves advance.