The Atlanta Braves will take on the New York Mets in arguably the biggest game of the season for both teams. If they Braves win, they will clinch the season series and the tiebreaker that comes along with it. Their magic number would be down to one and would need just an additional win in Miami or a Mets loss to claim their fifth straight division title.
Had he not been injured, it is possible that Spencer Strider would be on the mound for the Braves Sunday night. Instead, it will be Charlie Morton who has had an up and down season and was hit hard in his last outing in Philadelphia. However, the Braves are banking on Morton’s experience in big games to carry him through Sunday night.
“He’s experienced about everything that you can,” Brian Snitker said of Morton. “He’s got the last out of a World Series championship game and he’s pitched in many big regular season games, a lot of postseason experience. He’s a good guy to have on the mound.”
The Braves will stick iwht the same lineup as Saturday with Eddie Rosario in left field and Orlando Arcia at second base. Additionally, Marcell Ozuna starts at DH for the second straight game over William Contreras.
Snitker said that Contreras is healthy, but chose to go with Ozuna instead. Ozuna was 1-for-3 with a double in Saturday’s win and is hitting .311/.367/.533 with a 150 wRC+ in 14 games since September 1.
Spencer Strider injury update
Snitker said that Spencer Strider still hasn’t thrown since he was placed on the injured list with a sore oblique. The team has doubled up on treatment and didn’t want to risk putting him on the mound too quickly. He did say that it was likely that Strider would try and throw a bullpen session some time early this week.
“I think it’s coming up probably the first of the week or middle of the week sometime, but I don’t know that they have anything pinned down right yet,” Snitker said of Strider. “All the rehab and everything, they’re doubling up on it for what they did the last time because those first launches are going to be important. He said he feels good. He’s feeling better, but he hasn’t thrown yet. So we don’t know.”
Snitker was asked whether the injury to Strider would likely keep him from pitching in a potential Wild Card series which would begin on October 7. He didn’t completely rule it out, but said that Strider would likely need multiple bullpens and that it would be hard.
“I haven’t asked George, but he’s going to need a couple of bullpens,” Snitker said. “Realistically probably yes. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but he hasn’t thrown a ball in a while.”
Strider’s situation places even more emphasis on the need to win the division and obtain a bye for the first round of the postseason.
Kirby Yates throws another bullpen
Kirby Yates threw a bullpen Sunday and if everything goes well, could throw a sim game at Gwinnett on Wednesday.
“We’ll see how he comes out tomorrow and the following day,” Snitker said of the plan for Yates. “Then if everything goes good, we’re going to have him scheduled for a sim game at the alternate site on Wednesday.
The Braves have a group of position players and pitchers that will be working out at Gwinnett through the end of the postseason, just in case they are needed.
“Just like we did last year. Just keeping some position players and pitchers going in case they’re needed throughout the rest of the postseason,” Snitker said.
“You look at your opponent in the postseason, and there might be somebody down there that profiles for coming up here making this roster which we’ve done the last few years,” Snitker added. So you keep a big mix of those guys that can help you and keep them live in case you need them.”