Atlanta Braves are erasing their playoff disappointments
This is how the Braves roll through October. On Thursday they entered the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2001. Now they meet the Los Angeles Dodgers at Globos Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The Dodgers, not the Braves, are the team to beat in the NL. But Atlanta has a stacked offensive, an airtight bullpen, and three young starters who rose in their National League Division Series against the Marlins.
Now that they’ve done their first NLCS in nearly two decades, they can properly see their first title in 25 years.
“The guys started to believe later this year,” said manager Brian Snitker after the Braves advanced. “We really put the whole thing together. Once we’ve battled that initial pitching bug, it’s really, really good for a few of these young people to step in and suddenly make progress. “
The depth of rotation is a lingering issue even after Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright silenced the Marlins. After Mike Soroka tore up his right Achilles in early August and robbed the Braves of their ace, they waited for Cole Hamels to break off the list of injured. Then Hamels was also closed and only threw 52 places in 2020. The Atlanta starters finished the regular season with an ERA of 5.51, the worst in the National League. It was a reason – and a compelling one – to doubt how much her insult and bullpen could shoulder.
But Max Fried, Anderson, and Wright all addressed those concerns. Fried, a 26-year-old leftist, is a candidate for NL Cy Young. Anderson, a 22-year-old rookie, has not allowed a run in 11⅔ innings after the season. The 25-year-old Wright scored six goals in a 7-0 win over the Marlins on Wednesday. He retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced. Will your test against the Dodgers get tougher? Yes. Do you need more than three starters in a seven-game series with no rest days? Also yes.
The NLDS still showed that Atlanta has arms to complement its shining strengths. In total, the staff allowed five runs in five playoff games, four of which were suspended. Wright typed the last in his postseason debut.
“We reversed the script,” said Freeman on Thursday. “Everyone spoke about our offense. Now everyone will be talking about our pitching. “
Freeman is the loud metronome of Atlanta’s command. He scores behind Acuña, one of the best young talents in the league. Freeman scores ahead of Ozuna, who led the NL with 18 homers and 56 RBI. Freeman took that place and made an intriguing MVP case. In the most advanced stats, he was only behind Nationals star Juan Soto. And while Soto played 47 games and broke his bid, Freeman never missed a start.
Since Freeman made his debut in 2010, the Braves have won four league titles and achieved four other runners-up. They ended up having four playoff runs in the NLDS and one more in the NL wildcard game. That year, before they even entered the field, Freeman tested positive for the novel coronavirus and had a fever that rose to 104.5 degrees. Freeman recounted saying a prayer and pleading, “Please don’t take me.”
“I wasn’t ready. That night I got a little worrisome, ”Freeman told reporters in July. “I took NyQuil, Tylenol and was able to go to sleep. I was just scared of going to bed. I was afraid if I stabbed higher in my sleep what would happen. I woke up at 7 a.m. the next morning and was 101.5 years old. So I said, ‘Phew, I can take the 101. ‘“
After they beat the Marlins and Freeman thought about the season, he didn’t say much about his coronavirus experience, about how different his summer could have been. He was ready to discuss the historical significance of overcoming NLDS. The rest, he thought, will be unpacked later.
“I’m just glad that the narrative is changing from winning the series to defeating the division series – there isn’t really much to tell now,” said Freeman. “So we’re going to start our own narrative. That’s the great thing about it. “
Their fate changed when Cristian Pache scored the last goal last Thursday. The next few moments, however, fitted on a lazy July afternoon rather than a win in October that had resisted unwanted disappointments for years.
Pache stuck his finger in the air before quickly sliding it to his side. Dansby Swanson adjusted his hat and hugged Ozzie Albies in second place. Then the Braves formed a high five line on the hill, their coaches stepping out of the dugout, and finally looking like a team whose goal is higher. They looked over the hump.