Rich Rod out, Smyly in on Braves' DS roster

October 8th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- Terrance Gore has appeared in two MLB games over the past two seasons and Dylan Lee has totaled just two career appearances at the big league level. But both were placed on the Braves’ National League Division Series roster.

While Gore, Lee, Drew Smyly and Orlando Arcia were included, Trade Deadline acquisition Rich Rodríguez and top prospect Cristian Pache were not placed on the roster the Braves carried into the NLDS, which begins with Friday afternoon’s game against the Brewers at American Family Field.

As the Braves assembled their roster, they favored left-handers, especially those with good breaking balls like Smyly and Lee, and opted to stay away from right-handers like Rodríguez and fellow veteran reliever Chris Martin. The Brewers hit .219 with a .396 slugging percentage against lefties since Sept. 1. They batted .232 with .378 slugging against righties during this span.

“You prepare for your opponent and what the best matchup is going to be with the guys you have,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Not everybody can make it.”

Rodríguez pitched effectively the first couple of weeks after he was acquired from the Pirates on July 30, but he posted a 6.75 ERA over his final 10 appearances. Within the 9 1/3 innings totaled during this span, the right-hander allowed 13 hits, including five home runs.

The Braves also opted to not carry Martin, who struggled once MLB began enforcing its sticky substance rule in June. He produced a 4.26 ERA and surrendered a .812 OPS over 33 appearances since June 13.

“I'm sure [Rodríguez and Martin] didn't like it,” Snitker said. “But again, it's more who you're playing more than what they can or can't do. So they'll both be in play for the next round if we advance.”

Like with the Royals in 2014 and ’15 and the Cubs in 2018, Gore will be used as a baserunning threat. The speedy 30-year-old outfielder played in just two games for the Dodgers last year and spent this season producing a .680 OPS in 49 games with Triple-A Gwinnett. More importantly, he was successful with 18 of 22 stolen-base attempts.

Pache earned a spot on the Braves’ postseason roster last year and was forced into a starting role when Adam Duvall strained his oblique muscle during the NL Championship Series. But he struggled offensively as Atlanta’s starting center fielder this year and was just 9-for-16 with stolen base attempts for Triple-A Gwinnett. Had he been better on the basepaths, there would have been a stronger argument to carry him and his top-notch glove instead of Gore.

With Guillermo Heredia and Joc Pederson, the Braves didn’t necessarily need to carry Pache’s glove. Heredia or Pederson will be available if there’s a need to remove either Eddie Rosario or Jorge Soler for defensive purposes late in a game.

Lee has the chance to become a feel-good story during this postseason. The 27-year-old left-hander made his only two career appearances during last week’s season-ending series against the Mets. He posted a 1.54 ERA in 35 relief appearances for Gwinnett this year.

There was some thought the Braves might carry Spencer Strider, a higher-upside prospect who also made his only two career appearances this past weekend. But Lee, who has better command, got the nod.

Arcia appeared in just 32 games for Atlanta after he was acquired from Milwaukee on April 6. But the veteran outfielder has playoff experience. He and Prince Fielder share the Brewers’ postseason record for home runs (four).

Smyly’s addition provides the Braves some options as they debate who to start in a potential Game 4. If Huascar Ynoa were to be used as an opener in this game, Smyly could follow him with a couple of innings.

“Drew's been throwing the ball really well, too,” Snitker said. “He's had some really good outings. And it's just the matchup with the opponent, pretty much.”

Here is a look at the Braves’ 26-man NLDS roster. It includes 12 pitchers and 14 position players.


: As d’Arnaud missed three months with a torn ligament in his left thumb this year, it was easier to notice the significant value he brings to the club. The veteran catcher is a proven game-caller with the ability to provide some power at the bottom of the lineup.

: Contreras gained valuable experience when he was prematurely rushed to the big leagues to serve as Atlanta’s starter when d’Arnaud began his lengthy injured-list stint in May. The young prospect wasn’t ready to be an everyday catcher, but he’s improved defensively and his bat plays at the big league level.


: The reigning NL MVP got off to a slow start, but he was one of the game’s most productive players over the regular season’s final four months. This will be the sixth postseason he has experienced with the Braves.

: Albies earned his second All-Star selection and ranked among the game’s leaders in extra-base hits this year. The 24-year-old switch-hitter rides into the postseason on the heels of his first 30-homer season, and he already holds the franchise record for career homers hit by a second baseman with his current total of 90.

: Swanson produced his finest offensive season (slashing .311/.449/.760 with 27 home runs and 88 RBIs, both career highs) and consistently made great defensive plays. This was easily his most complete overall season since the D-backs took him with the first overall selection in the 2015 MLB Draft.

: Riley enjoyed a 33-homer, 107-RBI season that will earn him MVP consideration for the first time. The young slugger established himself as Atlanta’s everyday third baseman during the middle of April and was the club’s most consistent offensive player throughout the season.

: Adrianza is a switch-hitter who also provides defensive versatility with his ability to play all of the infield and outfield positions.

: Acquired in early April from the Brewers, Arcia batted .214/.282/.343 with Atlanta. In 13 career playoff games with Milwaukee, the former Brewer had four homers and six RBIs.


: Two years removed from a 32-homer campaign for the Twins, Rosario spent much of this season struggling through an injury-plagued stint with Cleveland. After being dealt to Atlanta, though, he emerged from the injured list in late August and established himself as the Braves’ left fielder with a strong final few weeks, slashing .273/.337/.580 down the stretch.

: Duvall combined to hit 38 homers with a National League-best 113 RBIs while playing for the Marlins and Braves this year. The Trade Deadline deal that brought him back to Atlanta stands as one of the key factors in the Braves’ ability to win a fourth straight NL East title.

: Soler hit 14 of his 27 homers and produced an .882 OPS in 55 games after the Braves acquired him from the Royals on July 30. The veteran outfielder’s 12% walk percentage is one reason he was moved to the top of Atlanta’s lineup near the end of September.

: The veteran outfielder has swagger and a pearl necklace he believes looks great when he wears it while playing. Pederson is a postseason veteran (151 at-bats over 13 series in six seasons with the Dodgers) who could provide value off the bench.

: Heredia can provide value as a late-inning defensive replacement or as the guy who swings his plastic swords whenever he is celebrating in the dugout.

: In nine playoff games, the pinch-running catalyst has zero hits, but he has five steals and three runs.


: Morton has been one of the game’s top postseason pitchers over the past four seasons. The 37-year-old hurler won the World Series with the Astros in 2017 and was a key arm for the American League pennant-winning Rays in 2020.  

: Fried produced a MLB-best 1.74 ERA after the All-Star break. This will be his fourth straight postseason with the Braves.

: Anderson had totaled six career starts entering last year’s postseason, but he didn’t allow a run until his fourth start, which came in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. 

: Ynoa’s long-term future might be as a reliever. But before breaking his pitching hand by punching the dugout bench in Milwaukee, he spent the regular season’s first six weeks proving to be a highly effective starter.


: Smith converted 37 out of 43 save opportunities during his first season as the Braves’ closer. The veteran lefty was the club’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee this year.

: Jackson is one of the funnier guys in the Braves’ clubhouse. He bounced back from a rough 2020 to establish himself as one of Atlanta’s top late-inning options this year.

: Matzek overcame some midseason struggles and proved to be one of the game’s best relievers in the second half. The lefty returned to the Majors last year for the first time since developing the “yips” while pitching for the Rockies in 2015.

: Minter garnered the attention of the baseball world when he was used as an opener in Game 5 of last year’s National League Championship Series and ended up recording seven strikeouts over three innings against the Dodgers. That remains the only start of his professional career.

: A midseason addition to Atlanta’s bullpen, Chavez emerged as a very valuable and versatile asset. The 37-year-old right-hander was successful when used as an opener down the stretch.

: Webb spent some time at Triple-A this year, but by the end of the season he was being used in some high-leverage spots at the big league level.

: The veteran lefty lost his rotation spot after his velocity continued to drop throughout August. There’s a chance he could be used as part of a piggyback arrangement during the playoffs.

: The lefty is a strike-thrower who had success at Triple-A Gwinnett this year. He made just two appearances in the regular season.