Spotlight the highlights
The bright spots in the lineup came from players I expected to be the spark; unfortunately, that spark didn’t have the heat to ignite the wet timber behind it. After an early mental lapse, Acuna confirmed his stardom and batted .444/.565/.889/.1.454, with a homer, a triple and three doubles, driving in two and walking four times.
Swanson batted .389/.421/.556/.977, good for the second-best batting line on the Braves. He came up big in high leverage situations just as he did in 2018 until injury forced him onto the DL.
In six PA, Swanson delivered two hits, a walk, and drove in three runs. He also scored three runs, as did his double-play partner. Albies continued to establish himself at one of baseball’s top second basemen. While his line isn’t gaudy, his eight PA with RISP resulted in three runs.
Adam Duvall led the team in RBI with five, all in high leverage situations. Duval got just one start due to his known weakness against right-handed pitching. That start looked like a hail Mary by manager Brian Snitker who, when asked about it at the press conference, ended his comment with “we’ll see.”
Donaldson didn’t get much to hit once the Cardinals figured out they didn’t have to pitch carefully to Freeman, and Markakis wasn’t a threat.
Bad rotation choice #1
Alan wrote that manager Brian Snitker had a plan and should be applauded for that. Planning is only as good as the assumptions made when building it, and the Braves pitching plan had flaws from the start.
The Braves started Mike Soroka once. I understand the sabermetric rationale for doing it and explained to some who asked, but starting anyone but your best pitcher twice in a must-win series is a bad idea unless there’s a better reason than ‘another pitcher makes more money’.
Brian Snitker said that Dallas Keuchel got two starts because “that’s why we got him.”
No, it’s not. The Braves acquired him to stabilize the rotation and provide veteran leadership in the postseason. Keuchel isn’t a number one starter; once Mike Foltynewicz came back, Keuchel became number three.
If you have an NL Cy Young candidate on your team, and he’s fully rested, he starts games one and five. Nothing else makes sense. No Braves pitcher makes the money or has the team history of Kershaw, but he didn’t start game one or game five,
I know the Skipper said he would make the same decisions now, but he has to say that – at least for a while – anything else is a shot at the pitcher he did start.
To quote Mark DeRosa on MLB Central the day after game five, “If the St Louis mound is where Soroka pitches best, go get it and put it in SunTrust Park.” Pitching your third-best starter twice can’t happen if you intend to win.