Atlanta Braves amazing run to the NLDS ended quietly
The Atlanta Braves reached the postseason after an amazing run, winning 70% of their games. But the postseason ended in the blink of an eye.
The Atlanta Braves put together a 75-32 record (.701 W/L%) from June 1 through September 30. They out-scored their opponents 561 to 364 behind a .261/.323/.461/.784 line and 175 home runs (1st).
Opposing batters posted a .227/.290/.353/.645 line against Atlanta Braves starters who gave up only 65 home runs (3rd NL) and allowed 235 runs (2nd NL), 227 earned (4th).
The bullpen gave up 38 home runs (5th NL) and held opposing hitters to a .210/.281/.341/.602 line while allowing 129 runs (1st NL 2nd MLB), 111 earned (1st NL and MLB).
After sweeping the Mets, the Braves eked out one win over the Marlins; then everything went bad at once, or did it?
The Atlanta Braves entered the season with Max Fried and Charlie Morton at the top of the rotation, backed up by Ian Anderson, hope that Kyle Wright would continue to pitch as he had in the 2021 World Series, and multiple candidates for the fifth-starter slot.
Fried and Wright delivered, but Morton struggled; the league learned they could wait for Anderson to walk them or give the batter a cookie, and no one claimed the last rotation spot.
Spencer Strider started as a bullpen option, but it quickly became obvious that he belonged in the rotation. Once the Braves made that decision, the rotation was stable, if still shaky at the back.
Today’s starter is . . .
Lack of starting pitching depth plagued 25 other teams, and by June, the lineup made the rotation good enough. The addition of Jake Odorizzi at the deadline rid the pen of an ineffective arm but failed to provide the illusive reliable fifth starter.
The top three pitched well, Morton improved slightly, and the lineup continued to pick them up when they stumbled. Everything went remarkably well until September 24, when Strider strained an oblique, and we watched Max Fried losing his cookies in a trash can after five innings facing the Mets.
Fried was a ghost of himself in game one of the NLDS, but Braves’ 21-game winner Kyle Wright asserted his claim as a top-end starter in game two. Strider started game three like he’d never been away, but that lasted only two innings.
Atlanta Braves’ postseason exit
When a line drive hit Morton’s elbow in game four, the team’s postseason effectively ended. The bullpen kept the Braves within striking distance, but the lineup couldn’t produce a sustained attack.
While the absence of a healthy Fried and Strider hurt, the Braves could have sent Spahn, Smoltz, and Maddux and still lost the series because, except for three players, the bats that carried the team for 123 days were missing in action.