Braves opt for bench depth, leave off Teheran

October 3rd, 2019

ATLANTA -- After evaluating how to best match up against the right-handed heavy Cardinals in the National League Division Series, the Braves made the emotionally tough, but strategically sound decision to leave their six-time Opening Day starter Julio Teheran off their roster.

Once the Braves determined they would rather carry a six-man bench instead of what would have essentially been a nine-man bullpen in this best-of-five series, they had to debate whether to carry Josh Tomlin or Teheran as their long-relief option. Tomlin got the nod because he has capably handled the role throughout the season.

Here is a breakdown of the Braves’ NLDS roster, which was announced Thursday morning.

Catchers (3): Brian McCann (L), Tyler Flowers (R), Francisco Cervelli (R)

Carrying Cervelli as a third catcher gives manager Brian Snitker some flexibility with his bench, which was depleted by the September injuries suffered by Johan Camargo (fractured right shin) and Charlie Culberson (facial fractures). Cervelli will be used as a right-handed pinch-hit option and his presence will provide insurance when it’s necessary to use a pinch-runner for McCann.

Once Austin Riley went 5-for-38 with 18 strikeouts after returning to the Majors in September, the Braves had no choice but to carry Hechavarria as their only backup infielder.

Outfielders (6): Ronald Acuña Jr. (R), Nick Markakis (L), Matt Joyce (L), Billy Hamilton (S), Adam Duvall (R), Rafael Ortega (L)

With Ender Inciarte now done for the year with a right quad strain, the injury-depleted Braves once again had little choice but to give the last bench spot to Ortega, who provided little between the grand slam he hit against the Dodgers on Aug. 18 and the home run he hit in Sunday’s regular season finale. Though Ortega provides little value, what he could offer as a pinch-hit option in specific situations will likely be more valuable than carrying both Teheran and Tomlin.

Rotation (3): Dallas Keuchel LHP, Mike Foltynewicz RHP, Mike Soroka RHP

The Braves will line up their starters in this same order for the first three games. Max Fried could get the Game 4 start. But there is a strong chance Fried will be used out of the bullpen at some point within the first couple games.

The feel-good addition is O’Day, who missed more than a year with multiple injuries before being activated from the injured list in September. But the former All-Star reliever became a no-brainer addition as he retired 16 of 21 batters faced, including five of the last nine via a strikeout.