This story was excerpted from the Braves Beat newsletter by Mark Bowman. To read the full newsletter, click here. And the Subscription To get it regularly in your inbox.
If you want to have some fun over the next few days, plot how you think the Braves turn might look during the last week of the regular season and early post-season rounds. There are a number of different options and the process will remain seamless as it is affected by whether or not Atlanta wins their fifth consecutive National Eastern League crown.
Before we get into the predictions, let’s remember that the Braves chose to push the start of Spencer Strider back at least a few days after arriving at Trustist Park with a left slash wrench on Tuesday. So instead of starting Saturday in Philadelphia, the announced rookie could next appear during the following weekend’s series against the Mets.
And by giving Bryce Elder an instant start against the Nationals on Wednesday, the Braves were able to push Max Fried back daily to take on an even more formidable Phillies squad on Thursday. Oh yeah, this too is set to start the finale of the 3 vs Mets and Game 1 series of the Wild Card Series or the Division Series.
It’s funny how all the pieces fell off with just a little tinkering. Now, let’s visualize how the pieces might fit together in the first two weeks of October.
In Velez (current series): Fried (Thursday), Jake O’Dorrese (Friday), Kyle Wright (Saturday) and Charlie Morton (Sun).
These possibilities have already been announced by Braves.
At Nationals (Mon-Wed): The Braves can go with either Strider or Elder during Monday’s series opening. He pushed Strider back for two days to line him up in the Mets series, but as he approaches the end of his second professional season only, it might be worth giving Strider a full week off and keeping him available for one of those games against New York, if needed.
With this in mind, I’ll be showing the Braves to go with Elder (Mon), Fried (Tuesday) and Odorizzi (Wednesday) during next week’s series at Nationals Park.
Against the Mets (September 30 – October 2): Wright (September 30), Strider (October 1) and Fried (October 2).
With the Mets Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer potentially starting in their first two games, it makes sense that the Braves would use their top three starting players. As mentioned earlier, this also keeps Fried lined up to start Game 1 of the Wild Card or NLDS series.
Against the Marlins (3-5 October): Morton (October 3), O’Dorrese (October 4) and Wright or Elder or Kyle Mueller (October 5).
If a win on the final day of the regular season could clinch the division, Braves Wright could start in the final series. If nothing is at stake, it is likely that Elder or Muller will get the ball.
Wild Card Series (October 7-9): If the Braves don’t win the division, they’ll host another Wild Card team in one of the top three series, during which you’ll play every match in Trust Park.
My expected starters are Fried (Game 1), Strider (Game 2) and Wright (Game 3).
If Wright were to start the regular season finale, he wouldn’t be available for the Wild Card series. This determines Morton’s potential for Game 3 of that series.
NLDS (after winning the WC Series): If the Braves advance, none of the starters they used in the WC series will be available to start Game 1 of the NLDS.
So, I’m going to show you the start of this best of five series: Morton (Game 1), Fried (Game 2), Strider (Game 3), Wright (Game 4).
There is no day off between Game 4 and 5, so Game 5’s choice would be Morton.
NLDS (As Segmentation Winners): The Braves will end the regular season on October 5 and the NLDS will not start until October 11.
So, with everyone available, I’ll show them off with Fried (Game 1), Strider (Game 2), Wright (Game 3) and Morton (Game 4).
I understood you? Fabulous. I’ll check back next week to explain why those expectations no longer make sense.