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The Braves are set to begin their 2020 MLB postseason run tomorrow at noon for Game 1 of a 3-game wildcard series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Starting Game 1 for the Reds is the most outspoken player in Major League Baseball, Trevor Bauer. Now look, this man deserves every bit of praise for his 2020 season. He’s the clear front runner for NL Cy Young. He’s carrying a 1.73 ERA into the postseason. And he plays with the emotion & fire that every home fanbase wants their players to play with, day in & day out. But you gotta take the good with the bad…
But is it actually bad? Braves twitter exploded recently over a snippet of a Bauer interview about the upcoming series against the Braves. In that snippet he said the Reds would advance, and he said it so matter-of-factly that Braves Twitter took it as Bauer viewed the Braves as a postseason formality in their World Series run, an afterthought, unthreatening.
And admittedly, when I saw the snippet, I shared the same feelings as most of my fellow Braves fans….then I went beyond that 30 second clip.
Bauer said of the Braves: “They’re good. They hit a lot of homers…I’ve faced them a couple of times before. I have a little bit of history with them. Obviously not this year – things change, lineup construction changes and all that. I haven’t done a deep dive on them yet, but we’ll be doing that today and tomorrow, obviously. So I’ll have more info later on.”
Seems pretty sensical to me.
Bauer was also quoted as saying: “We’re either the best staff in baseball or the second best staff in baseball.”
And in a three game series, they are a rotation that has the ability to shut down lineups, or at least keep offensive production at a lower pace than fans are used to seeing their teams produce. Am I, as a Braves fan, WORRIED about the Reds rotation? No. I am however, going into this series knowing that our pitchers have to prevent their offense from gaining momentum while their starters are still on the mound. Their bullpen is an obvious weak spot for their club. Our offense’s late inning track record suggests that’s exactly where the Reds can’t afford to make mistakes.
Our offense has shown all year that they can make anyone’s ace look like a Spring Training invitee.
Their offense, as good as it appears on paper, hasn’t been able to translate that gameday program star power into on-field production. This is an offense that has earned the presumptive NL Cy Young a 5-4 record, Sonny Gray a 5-3 record, & Luis Castillo a 4-6 record. Those three are the scheduled starters for the Wildcard Series & have a combined ERA of 2.88 with a record of 14-13.
Meanwhile, our ace is 7-0. Our rookie Ian Anderson is 3-2, & Kyle Wright’s struggles are well documented; but he’s looked worlds better since he returned from the alternate site.
So, in conclusion, the narrative shouldn’t be about how scared the Braves should be of the Reds series starters. It should be how many innings can Reds starters survive against our offense, and once they’re pulled from the game, how many runs will the Braves offense hang on Cincinnati’s bullpen.