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Snitker goes with hot bat in Duvall for G5

@mlbbowman
October 9, 2019

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker took a chance on Adam Duvall by inserting the outfielder into the lineup for Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals on Wednesday. Duvall replaced Matt Joyce, who will be available off the bench for the winner-take-all series finale. •

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker took a chance on Adam Duvall by inserting the outfielder into the lineup for Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Duvall replaced Matt Joyce, who will be available off the bench for the winner-take-all series finale.

NLDS presented by Utz, Game 5: Today, 5 p.m. ET on TBS

“He's hot,” Snitker said. “He's had some success off of [Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty]. Who knows if it will last. He's had some big hits for us. We're going to try it.”

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 3 STL 7, ATL 6 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 4 ATL 3, STL 0 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 6 ATL 3, STL 1 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 7 STL 5, ATL 4 (10) Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 9 STL 13, ATL 1 Watch

There was a need for Snitker to attempt to add some potential power to his lineup, which has seen the 3-4-5 hitters (Freddie Freeman Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis) combine to go 7-for-48 with three extra-base hits through the first four games of the NLDS.

Duvall has come off the bench to go 3-for-7 with a home run. That homer, hit in the seventh inning of Atlanta’s Game 2 victory, was the second he has tallied in five career at-bats against Flaherty.

While it was highly unlikely Snitker would choose to sit Markakis, who has been with the Braves since the start of 2015, there would have been justification if he chose to do so. Markakis has gone 3-for-17 in this series.

Joyce has gone 1-for-9 in this series, but he produced a .991 OPS in 95 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers dating to Aug. 17, which is when he began filling an outfield platoon to account for Ender Inciarte’s absence.

Represent Atlanta with NL East champs gear

Markakis has produced a .490 OPS over 50 plate appearances against right-handers dating to Sept. 13. He has gone 3-for-17 against all pitchers through the first four games of this series.

Joyce went 1-for-3 with a single, strikeout and flyout against Flaherty on Friday. Markakis went 1-for-3 with a single and two groundouts against the St. Louis right-hander.

Maybe the shadows

Based on the ugly swings Freeman took while striking out in three of five at-bats during Monday’s Game 4 loss, hitting in the shadows might have been more problematic than the right elbow, which he emphatically said has not bothered him.

Freeman did not make any type of contact with nine of the 13 swings he took. According to Statcast, he swung and missed just 22.7 percent of the time this season. The right elbow spur certainly proved problematic when the All-Star first baseman produced a .440 OPS over his final 13 regular-season games. But even within that span, he completely missed the ball with just 26.5 percent of his swings.

Though Freeman said the elbow has had “zero” to do with the fact he had gone 2-for-16 thus far, Snitker said the performance made him wonder if his NL MVP Award candidate might still be battling some discomfort. But he followed that by saying he thinks Freeman could break out in a big way on Wednesday.

“He's a special animal and he's a special player,” Snitker said. “At any point in time this guy can -- because I've seen it over and over and over, man, he could come out -- he's the type of guy that will come out tomorrow and put everybody on their shoulders and take them for a ride.”

Making history

Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt has already tied a Division Series record by tallying six extra-base hits through the first four games against the Braves. Ronald Acuña Jr. is just one shy of this mark, and he could soon have more postseason extra-base hits than any other Braves player during this century.

Dating to 2001, Andruw Jones leads all Braves with 11 postseason extra-base hits (101 at-bats). Chipper Jones ranks second with eight in 105 at-bats. Acuña has seven through just 32 at-bats.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.