ATLANTA — After getting shut out in Game 1, there was plenty of ink spilled on Brian Snitker’s decision to alter his lineup against Phillies left-hander Ranger Suarez. Even though the Braves got the matchups they wanted, they were unable to come up with any timely hits with runners in scoring in position. Following Game 1, Snitker said he didn’t think that the lineup changes contributed to any of their struggles and Austin Riley, who moved into the second spot in the order, backed him up.
The Braves will go back to their traditional look for Game 2 with Ozzie Albies hitting second and Austin Riley third. When asked about why they would change back, Snitker replied that it was a different starting pitcher. When pressed further, Snitker said that they had a good idea that Suarez would be on a short leash and they made the move to be ready for the many lefties that the Phillies have available out of the bullpen. The Braves are expecting Zack Wheeler to go as long as he can in Game 2.
“We kind of knew he was going to be on a short leash and that the bullpen was going to play a big part of it,” Snitker said. “With Wheeler I fully expect him to go as long as he can go, as long as he’s effective.”
Snitker was also asked if he seeks input from the coaching staff or anyone in the front office on lineup changes. He confirmed that he does talk to people within the organization, but that the decision is his. That goes along with what general manager Alex Anthopoulos has said in the past.
“No. I mean, I’ll talk to people, but it’s my decision ultimately,” Snitker said.
No restrictions for Max Fried
While the Braves’ offensive struggles garnered most of the headlines following Game 1, all eyes will be on the status of Max Fried in Game 2. Fried will make his first start since going on the injured list in late September due to a blister issue. Fried said Saturday that the blister had healed and that he was ready to go. Snitker said that there won’t be any restrictions for him in Game 2.
“No, not really. I think just turn him loose,” Snitker said. “He’s done everything. We like where it’s at, how it felt the other day, and the innings that he pitched. I think everybody feels real confident that he’ll be able to go out there and extend the game and do what he can do.”
Being ready for a must-win situation
Losing Game 1 in a five-game series is never a recipe for success, but at the end of the day, it is still just one loss. Snitker was asked about the resiliency that the Braves have shown over the years and if they are equipped to handle it.
“Yeah. I feel like we are. I mean they’ve been through all those wars and the long seasons, the playoff runs, all that and understand it’s all part of it,” Snitker said. “If we could add maybe ten inches more on a couple of balls we hit the other day, then it’s a totally different outcome in that game, but that’s the way the game is. That’s postseason baseball. Sometimes stuff like that happens, and I think they understand that. It’s a new day, and a chance to do something really good. They’ll come out and prepare and be ready to go like they always are. Still got a few games to go in this thing, last I looked. So I think they’ll be fine.”
Michael Harris echoed those thoughts saying that the clubhouse is loose, but they understand the magnitude of the situation.
“I guess it’s still a little loose, but we know we need to put pressure on them because we gotta win three before they win two,” Harris said. “It’s a tough team on the other side and we just gotta go out there and play our game.”
Braves still undecided on Game 3 starter
Brian Snitker wasn’t ready to announce his starter for Game 3 yet and said that the outcome of Game 2 could alter the decision.
“No. We’re not 100 percent sure yet. Again, tonight’s game could alter the landscape a little bit of what we’re looking to do,” Snitker said.
Bryce Elder would be one option, but he struggled down the stretch. Rookie right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver would be another. Whoever starts, it is likely that they will be on a short leash and that the game could be more of a bullpen game than a traditional start.