ATLANTA -- The Braves have not revealed their rotation plans for the National League Division Series, but it looks like they might wait until Game 3 to start right-hander Mike Soroka. This decision would be based on the splits that show the rookie hurler has been much more successful on the road than he has at SunTrust Park.
After Tuesday night’s 9-6 loss to the Royals, manager Brian Snitker announced Soroka’s scheduled start on Wednesday was pushed back to Sunday. This will give the 22-year-old hurler four extra days' rest leading into the final regular-season start of his first full big league season.
Dallas Keuchel will likely start Game 1 of the NLDS, which begins on Oct. 3. Soroka could start the following day in Game 2 on regular rest. But the Braves may choose to once again give him some extra rest by having Soroka start Game 3, which will be played away from SunTrust Park.
While creating strong candidacies for both the NL Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards, Soroka has produced a 4.14 ERA in 13 home starts and a 1.35 ERA in 15 road starts.
The Braves know they will host Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS against the NL Central winner, which will most likely be the Cardinals. Atlanta will be on the road for the next two games of the best-of-five series.
Snitker will likely not reveal his rotation plans until the opponent is set and he gets a chance to see both Keuchel and Mike Foltynewicz make their final regular-season starts this weekend against the Mets.
Keuchel’s postseason experience could prove beneficial if the Braves make the expected decision to start him in Game 1. The former American League Cy Young Award winner has produced a 3.31 ERA in nine playoff starts (10 total appearances). His splits also favor this arrangement. He has a 2.74 ERA in 10 home starts and a 4.76 ERA in eight road starts.
As Foltynewicz has produced a 1.19 ERA over his past six starts, he has made himself a strong candidate to start Game 2. Since returning from Triple-A in August, the former All-Star has produced a 1.02 ERA in three home starts and a 3.00 ERA in six road starts.
The Braves will also need to determine how they might use Max Fried and Julio Teheran, both of whom could be used as either a reliever or potential starter. But if simply looking at home/road splits, there might be reason to be hesitant to use Fried as a Game 4 starter. He has allowed five earned runs in each of his past three road starts and has a 5.28 ERA in 15 starts away from SunTrust Park.
Freeman nearing return
Based on the reports he has received, Snitker is more confident that Freddie Freeman will be ready to return to the lineup for Friday night’s series opener against the Mets at Citi Field.
Instead of traveling with the Braves to Kansas City this week, Freeman remained in Atlanta to undergo treatment on his right elbow, which has recently been bothered by a bone spur. The All-Star first baseman has responded favorably to the rest and treatment he has received since exiting Sunday’s game against the Giants after the seventh inning.
“I heard he is feeling a lot better,” Snitker said. “This is going to be a really good little blow for him, where he can just concentrate on the treatment. It’s been very, very positive so far. I’ve got a feeling when he shows up on Friday he’ll be really good to go.”
Inciarte runs bases
Instead of activating Ender Inciarte off the injured list before this weekend’s series against the Mets, the Braves may send the NL Gold Glove Award center fielder to their Spring Training complex to get as many at-bats as he needs against Minor League pitchers.
Inciarte’s right hamstring reacted favorably after he sprinted around the bases on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. He will complete the same exercises on Wednesday. The Braves will then decide whether to activate him or send him to Florida with the hope he could quickly shake off the rust that has developed since he was injured on Aug. 16.